Reflecting on a year abroad

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Kees Lynch
June 12, 2024

It’s hard to sum up what a year abroad is like in a 500-word blog post written less than two weeks after returning from a 9-month adventure. I imagine I will have many more thoughts and reflections on my time in Amsterdam at the end of the summer while I’m gearing up for my last year of college, which is a crazy thing to think about in and of itself. Ultimately, I am so thankful for my time abroad. I grew fundamentally in many ways and feel like a different, better person. I learned so much independence in all facets of life, from navigating the vastly different university culture to making friends in a big, foreign city, from registering as a resident within the city and the country to working at a restaurant, and truly living on my own for an extended period of time. I learned the most from living on my own and having to navigate that. The University of Amsterdam was a fine institution but ultimately underwhelming; I can’t speak for the IES classes, but I will say that I prefer the education at my home college to the education I received while abroad. However, I learned more than I ever have at my home college about navigating life as an adult, and in this way I couldn’t have asked for a more valuable experience. I see so many students at my home college who are so privileged and sheltered and have never had to do anything for themselves in their lives, and in some ways I was like this before I moved abroad. The abroad experience changed this; it really helped me begin to make the transition from kid to adult. 


There is a bunch of information on IES’ website about readjusting to coming back to the states, and that it can be very hard for students. I honestly haven’t found it difficult at all. I returned to my hometown of Philadelphia and, despite having been away for so many months, everything feels exactly the same. I will say that the jet lag is pretty intense, given that my brain was so fundamentally adjusted to being 6 hours ahead, but otherwise the transition was seamless. The hardest part about readjusting was simply having to give up the lifestyle, routine, and friends that I made while in Amsterdam. I made some really great Dutch friends who I will likely never get to live in the same city with again, which is a pretty depressing thought. I also can’t just bike or walk around with the ease that I could there, and of course everything looks, smells, tastes, and sounds different. However, I’m quite happy to be home, and familiar things like driving to my local convenience stores, walking my dog through my neighborhood, and seeing my friends made the transition very easy. I think the fact that I have a concrete plan this summer really helped me; I went straight back to working at my hometown job and have an internship lined up that starts next week. Without this, I probably would be wallowing in my departure from Amsterdam a lot more than I have been. There’s one thing I know for certain, though: I’m booking a trip back as soon as I can.

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Kees Lynch

Despite being a history major and studying history at the UvA this year, I am a passionate musician. I have been playing piano for over a decade, focusing largely on jazz, but I love to play guitar, banjo, and mandolin in my free time!

2023 Fall
Home University:
Skidmore College
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