Abroad Bucket Lists: The Final Countdown

Mallory Brander
May 21, 2022

Half way through the semester I was asked: Tell us 3 things that are on your study abroad bucket list. To this question I replied: Honestly, I’ve ticked most of my study abroad bucket list items. The top of my current list is to visit Portugal. After asking some of my most well-traveled friends what the must see country is, Portugal was the resounding answer. I’m spending a few days there this month and I’m so looking forward to it. Second, I have been dying to do one of the boat tours here. My friends and I have scheduled them once or twice, but routinely get rained out and have to cancel. But I’m determined to get on a boat before I leave. Third, weirdly, I really want to try pickled herring. I know, it sounds disgusting, but it is a really popular Dutch food and one of my roommates has been raving about it for months now, so I guess I’ll throw that on the list.

As I enter my last week in Amsterdam, I traveled to Porto, been on two boats, and even scarfed down some pickled herring. But the question on everyone’s lips remains “what can’t you leave here without doing?” As my angst over having the perfect last week grew more and more consuming, I turned to my friend Jess on the metro and asked, “Don’t you feel like it’s kind of overwhelming that we have so much to do in such a short time here?” And to this, Jess wisely said, “Why rush to the end when we will be back here someday?” 

It was a simple and beautiful thought, one that my do-it-all attitude had blinded me from. Your time abroad hurdles by, and while it’s all too easy to measure your experience abroad by how many countries you visited, or how many sites you saw, or how many people you met, it’s really about finding the things and the people that make your life here feel like home. Jess’s sentiment was especially reassuring to me because it reminded me that my time here was not finite. I won’t be banned from ever returning to Amsterdam (lack of physical IND residence permit notwithstanding). I have years and years ahead of me where in all likelihood, I will be back here. Whether that be in a year, five years, or twenty-five years, I don’t need to do everything all in one go.

I didn’t come into this experience with any hard and fast to-dos, and I couldn’t recommend it enough. Looking back on my time here, I could’ve never expected to find the amazing connections and experiences that I have. Were I to have had this rigid set of to-dos at any point, I would’ve easily shut myself off from a myriad of new and exciting opportunities. So if you do have an ever-expansive to-do list, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t check every box because, as cheesy as it sounds, you probably found something even better.

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Mallory Brander

<p>Hey everyone! I'm Mallory, a 20 year old originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I'm currently a junior at UNC Chapel Hill majoring in Business and minoring in Social and Economic Justice as well as studio art. I'm a people person who loves all things travel so I'm beyond ecstatic to be studying abroad in Amsterdam this spring!</p>

Home University:
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Tulsa, OK
Business Administration
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