The first time I ever left North America was when I traveled to France during my senior year in high school. Now, as technically a junior in college, I will travel to the Netherlands where I will stay from late August to early January. I recently read an article (although the article itself isn't very recent) called Why NOT to Study Abroad in Western Europe, but while the article offers a number of interesting points, here's why I'm returning to Western Europe and not feeling guilty about going:
- I want to learn Dutch. It's been difficult trying to learn Dutch here when my school doesn't offer it as a language (not to mention that I came into college with my language requirement already taken care of). No one I know speaks Dutch, so there's no one to teach me or to practice with.
- I want to be surrounded by a culture that I know very little about. We learn a lot about particularly Western Europe in school when we learn about World War II in particular, but I don't remember hearing about the Netherlands at all because the Netherlands wasn't as instrumental in World War II as Germany was.
- This will be my first time going abroad not attached to a class (as in, I won't be traveling with anyone I know). It'll be nice to go back to a region (Western Europe) that I've started to explore, but still have tons of things I haven't yet experienced.
- One of my absolute favorite books takes place, in part, in the Netherlands. I've been inspired to go and see what this place looks like and feels like so that I can more fully own this book.
I think that the Netherlands will be a good place for me to spend an extended amount of time. It has year-round weather that I can endorse (I've been following in the weather for the past year and I don't think I've ever seen the temperature (in Fahrenheit) fall below 30 degrees. 30 degrees is still cold, but compared to what Minnesota in the fall/winter can be like, I'll take my chances. Besides, I'll be near water! Super close to the seaside, in fact.
As my Count-Down clock ticks down and as I check more things off of my to-do list, I'm getting more and more excited. I love Minneapolis/St. Paul and I know for a fact that I'll miss my family and friends, but I can't wait to get out of town and experience the rest of the world!
Thanks for Reading! This won't be the last pre-departure post.