I Was Just Abroad... Now What?

Headshot of Bess Goldstein
Bess Goldstein
July 31, 2023
A bink decorated bike in front of a window in Amsterdam

After 6 full weeks in Amsterdam, I successfully immersed myself in Dutch culture while I was away from home, broadening my perspectives and learning about the many nuances of the Netherlands. By stepping outside of my comfort zone and adjusting to new circumstances, I was able to personally grow. I gained increased self-confidence, as I was able to make it in a city across the world, and complete two advanced college courses there! In 42 days, I was able to explore over 10 museums, 5 parks, 3 countries, and make an infinite amount of memories. Living in Amsterdam while simultaneously learning about its history, art, and culture made this journey so much more memorable and meaningful. But after I’ve had the summer of a lifetime… now what?

So far, I’ve been spending my time giving my family their gifts--like cheese, tiles, and flea market finds--, reflecting on my journey, and relaxing after a busy summer of classes. I definitely missed a few aspects of America, like the free public bathrooms and large ice waters, but dreaded coming back to others. While living back at home has not been as exciting as Amsterdam, I still have found ways to bring parts of my trip back with me. 

After spending time abroad, coming home can be a bittersweet experience. When you come home with vivid memories and distinctive experiences to share, these thoughts, along with times of introspection and self-discovery, have helped to shape your identity. The humility you developed from seeing cultural differences other people experience and the gratitude you felt for this opportunity sticks with you.  But what else should you do after you finished your journey?

  • Find your favorites: Snacks, restaurants, stores; you name it. Coming back home can bring back a sense of familiarity and comfort from what you love about where you’re from.
  • Stay Connected: Keep in touch with the friends you made! Whether that be within your program, your housing, or just friends you made along the way! Thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to maintain long-distance friendships.
  • Share Your Experiences: Talk about what happened abroad! Share your stories and adventures with some friends and family you missed while away. You can also share your journey on social media sites and write online!
  • Reflect: Preserve your memories, your emotions, or just what you remember doing during your trip. Journaling is a great way to do this, as it provides a safe space to express and navigate new emotions. One day in the future, reading your own travel journal can bring you right back to the memories that live vividly in your head.

As you reestablish contact with your family and friends, you find solace in the international plans you had, and the ones you will make. It hurts to be ripped away from a place you loved so much but remember that it is always possible to visit again. I believe that traveling opens people up to new possibilities for what their lives could be. Even if the adventure may have come to an end, the life-enriching force of travel will still be present in you as long as you take these reflective traits with you on your future travels.

Thank you for following along with my journey, and I hope you consider studying in the Netherlands soon!

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Headshot of Bess Goldstein

Bess Goldstein

My name is Bess, and I'm a senior Journalism major at the University of Pittsburgh. I'm a published writer and enjoy writing for news publications, creating digital media projects, and expanding my writing perspectives through global cultures.

Home University:
University of Pittsburgh
Fanwood, NJ
Creative Writing
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