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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

Notes from Abroad: Rodrigo in the Netherlands

Rodrigo Sanchez ’19 is a double major in Psychology and Chemistry who is studying in Nijmegen, Netherlands.

My experience abroad thus far has been absolutely amazing, although not without its challenges, but that just makes the experience even greater! At first, I felt nervous, although I’ve traveled to different countries before, they’ve always been with my family or a group of classmates; this time I was traveling to an unknown country by myself. I’d love to say that once I arrived in the Netherlands all my worries dissipated and I arrived to Nijmegen without a problem, however that wasn’t quite the case.

My first dose of reality hit when I received my baggage, I found out just how difficult it is to navigate an airport with two large suitcases, a carry on, and a book bag. Next, in my jetlag induced confusion, I boarded a train going in the opposite direction of where I needed to go, a perfect start to my semester, I thought. Luckily, I noticed my mistake before I traveled too far in the wrong direction and stopped at the next station I could. I felt scared, tired, and lost in a new country, but it wasn’t all bad because with those experiences I learned how kind the Dutch can be.

When I exited the platform, I found a few locals waiting nearby so I explained my situation and where I needed to go; as I explained, their faces reflected a genuine concern which immediately relieved some of my worry. After telling them what happened, they helped plan what train I needed to go on next and where I would need to transfer, they even offered to help take my luggage up the ramp to the correct platform! At the station where I needed to transfer, I worked up the courage to ask another local for help and found that they were excited to be talking to an international student and happy to help my first day in the Netherlands go smoothly. All I could think about on the way to Nijmegen was how those little acts of kindness, while probably no big deal to those locals, made me feel immeasurably better. While I may not have had my family or friends to comfort me, I found comfort knowing that there were people willing to help a complete stranger find his way.