Answering FAQs: Last Round

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Katlyn Clarke
December 23, 2023

Is it easy to make friends? 

Out of all of the questions I’ve had about going abroad and all of the ones I’ve been asked, there’s always one about friends! Whether it’s trying to stay in touch with friends from home or making friends while abroad, my biggest piece of advice is to not put too much pressure on yourself once you arrive abroad. Your friends from home will call, and if you want to chat more, just tell them! One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that you need to communicate what you want/need from your home friends while abroad because they can’t read your mind. They probably just want to support you and do what’s best for you, while also allowing you time to foster relationships in your new country. You’ll probably fall into a calling routine, or what I did sometimes is just randomly call a friend to see who would pick up! The time difference can make things lonely, but sending photos and quick updates of little things that happen in your week can make staying in touch easy and fun. 

As for making new friends abroad, it will come with time! You’ll be in the same building with some people, have classes with others (a mix of American and international students), and randomly meet. If there’s someone you’re really clicking with, you’re probably both thinking the same thing! I leaned into the students I knew in my building who I had class with, and the ones that I lived on the same floor as. In fact, it just happened naturally. I’m not saying fostering relationships abroad is effortless, but oddly enough, things just made sense for me. My favorite people in my building happened to be the same people I had classes with at the IES Abroad exchange center. Another person who I immediately knew I wanted to be friends with was my neighbor on our floor, and other people who made time for me I reciprocated by making time for them. It will feel like the first year of college at first, but trust me, you don’t need to go out of your way in the first week to make friends. People will be heading out to bars, clubbing, and trying to figure each other out at the same time. It will feel fast and furious, but just start chatting with people as you feel comfortable and things will fall into place. Four months in another country is longer than it seems. It is never too late and you still have time to make and meet new friends. 

That’s another cool thing about being abroad, you have the potential to make new friends the entire time! One of my classes didn’t start until the second half of the semester, and it wasn’t until December that I met a new friend. We were able to go out for coffee, and at the final exam for the course, she introduced me to her other friends. Although I was sad that I met a new girl crew in the days leading up to my departure and wished we had more time together, it was amazing to continually be exposed to new people and connect with them, And those fleeting moments of time stick out to me as some of my favorite memories. 


What is Amsterdam like in the Fall? How long were you there? 

I was in Amsterdam for about four months, or more specifically, from August 20th to December 23rd. So I was there when it was 80 degrees and sunny, and then for the incredibly long and saddening rainy season that feels as if it will never end! I was told it would rain. I read through all of the student blogs before leaving myself. Yet, nothing prepared me for the gray skies and wet clothes that I would endure. You’d think that rain is just rain, and rainy days happen every now and then. But in Amsterdam, I tallied that there were 26 days of consecutive rainfall. And it’s not just sprinkle or little storms. It will pour, the whole day long. Into the winter, you will not see sunlight. You may not even realize that time is passing because the sky will be the same gray at 9am as it will be at 4pm. In my English class, a few girls told me that when they go to the doctors, they are literally clinically deficient in Vitamin D! Who knew. It’s hard to know exactly how you’ll feel without experiencing it firsthand, but some days you’ll just feel extra tired or even a little sad. You will inevitably show up to class appearing like a drenched sewer rat, when your Dutch classmates look totally unfazed. Their hair might even be completely dry, no drop of water falling off their coat. Even more, it can be hard to feel happy when you haven’t seen the sun in a full month. But when you do, it will be everything and more. Truly, a rarity that I might have skipped class to enjoy. 

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Katlyn Clarke

Hi! I'm Katie. I enjoy iced matcha lattes, sunset walks, and Bernedoodles! I'm a huge book lover, and will easily pick up the newest summer romance. I also have a knack for crafting playlists for friends and could listen to the same song all day!

2023 Fall
Home University:
Franklin & Marshall College
Creative Writing
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