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Notes From Abroad: Simran in Amsterdam
Notes from Abroad is a new feature on the Off-Campus Programs website, in which we highlight small snippets of a student’s experience. This week’s feature is from Harsimran Kaur ’16, an English major and gender, sexuality and women’s studies minor, currently studying abroad at the SIT Netherlands program.
My journey here in Holland has been quite extraordinary. I am here studying international perspectives on sexuality and gender. From September 21st to October 5th we left Holland for two week excursion to Morocco where we visited five cities: Rabat, Casablanca, Agadir, Marrakech, and Fes.
When I first arrived to Holland in August I found it to be very different from the United States but still very alike in a way where everyone speaks English. However going to Morocco I think was very important because the majority of the people there spoke either Arabic or French. Many times, English is considered a universal language and those who do not speak it are considered lesser yet when I went to Morocco I felt that it was vital for me to integrate into the cultural by learning either French or Arabic or a mixture. It helped that I took a semester of Arabic sophomore year and when I used a few phrases to communicate with people they responded right away even though my pronunciation wasn’t quite good at all.
Also the Dutch bike everywhere, with their kids and their families and parents and just everywhere. This past summer I rode my bike to and from work which took about and hour roundtrip and I thought that was pretty decent bike riding but apparently not in Holland. Some people ride up to an hour each way and its incredible. There are people who are almost ninety still peddling their cycles. Hopefully I’ll do the same when I return back to the States.
I would like to thank the Speros Scholarship for Study Abroad. Through this scholarship I am able to freely travel around Europe and understand a history that was never the center point of my studies. During the Independent Study Project period in November I will use the funding for transportation aid to commute from one interview to the other to gain perspective on feminist and queer literature among European citizens.