Three days ago, I landed in Amsterdam for what is going to be one of the most momentous experiences of my life—my third year abroad.
For me, the decision to study abroad was a relatively impromptu one. Some people have had the dream of studying in a foreign country since childhood, but it had never really been something that I’d considered doing myself. I’ve never been much of a risk-taker, tending to prefer to play things safe than to step out of my comfort zone. When I told people about my decision to study abroad, most people’s reaction was one of surprise. They didn’t see me as the type of person who would choose to take the risk of starting a whole new life in an unfamiliar country.
Some people have had the dream of studying in a foreign country since childhood, but I’ve never been much of a risk-taker. And that's exactly why I'm doing it.
And that’s exactly why I’m doing it. I know that studying abroad is going to be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, experiences that I will ever have. It will give me the chance to experience a new culture and way of living, and to meet people from all over the world with diverse life experiences. It’s an amazing opportunity, and one that I personally think everyone should take advantage of.
I first looked into the Erasmus programme when one of my housemates mentioned that she was planning on doing a year abroad. My university has a very good study abroad scheme, with a number of agreements with various partner universities across the world. For studying Psychology, two of the options were universities in the Netherlands.
I had visited Amsterdam previously and had loved the relaxed, accepting atmosphere of Dutch culture. Combining this with the fact that Amsterdam is an exciting, multicultural city, and that the university is renowned worldwide, it became the obvious choice for my study abroad destination.
The choice to study in Amsterdam has, in itself, brought several more challenges—the main one being that I am not too graceful on a bicycle, which is the primary mode of transportation here. Likewise, I am prone to getting lost in unfamiliar places (to be honest, even in very familiar places) and the idea of having to find my way around a new city is somewhat daunting. But instead of being off-putting, the chance to overcome these obstacles excites me as it will help me develop new skills and independence.
In the three days since I’ve been here I’ve already met people from all corners of the globe, experienced a sample of Amsterdam’s many cafés (which are like British cafes and pubs rolled into one, serving both alcohol and coffee throughout the day), and even (regrettably) had a superb cultural experience in the form of my first Dutch McDonald’s.
I can’t wait to see what else Amsterdam has in store for me over the coming year.Add this article to your reading list