We have to keep in mind that the first word in the phrase “study abroad” is indeed “study”. After my trip to Croatia earlier this month, I made the decision to take a break from traveling and focus my efforts into finishing strong in school. Throughout my stay in Amsterdam, I’ve been attending a Dutch course every Tuesday evening. While this is true, I did not really take my lessons seriously until about a week ago when I was studying for the Dutch final exam. In the United States, I realize that the education system does not put a great emphasis on learning any language other than English. It’s often very handicapping in the United States to not understand English and a simple language barrier can cause extremely negative social interactions. I will leave Europe with a lasting apperciation for the European emphasis on learning foreign languages through education and experience. Every European I’ve met has had an understanding and appreciation for more than one language. While I was locking myself in my room for the past week trying to memorize how to tell directions and talk about the weather in Dutch, I was able to go out only a few times to take photos and interact with the culture I was so desperately trying to learn in isolation. During my short journeys I would feel nervous trying out my Dutch in real conversation, but my efforts were often rewarded with smiles and laughter. I think the people I spoke broken Dutch to really appreciated my efforts to try and understand and use their language and acknowledged the difficulty I was facing in doing so. Even though my Dutch course definitely did cause me some stress, I think the experience has given me a more indepth understanding of Dutch culture and improved my interactions with Dutch natives.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, I've spent my entire life in an environment heavily connected to the entertainment industry. As a student at Cornell University studying the connections between visual perception and media communication and design, I strive to be able to understand and implement effective design in media management. Fashion, art, architecture, music, food, and people are among the many subjects I hope to capture during my travels</p>