Before we returned home, we talked about the “W” curve—how there would be lots of ups and downs when we returned home. Personally, I was really looking forward to coming home as I missed my family, friends, and community and it was difficult to be so far away for such a long time. Our program ran a little longer than others so it was challenging to feel far away once my friends returned from their travels.
I had come to terms with saying goodbye to Amsterdam and know that it will always be a special place for me. Studying abroad is a very different and transformative experience for each person. Personally, I felt that I gained a lot of confidence in myself to travel independently, navigate a whole new public transportation system, and put myself very outside of my comfort zone by going to study abroad in the first place!
I think each person grows through traveling and experiencing another culture. On our college campuses in the US, we sometimes forget how big the world is and how much there is to see and do and learn about. I had the opportunity to meet so many people from different backgrounds and immerse myself in a culture that is different from my own.
While I got to do so much incredible traveling, explore the city of Amsterdam, visit tons of art museums, volunteer, and make connections with locals, it can be really difficult to be so far away from home. Unlike every picture you see on Instagram, not every day is picture-perfect and there are wonderful days and bad days alike. During these times it’s really important to lean on your support systems and realize that studying abroad is all about living and experiencing life abroad and not just a vacation! It felt like a chapter of my life was closing as I left, but I felt content knowing I had so many wonderful experiences to look back on.
Savor each moment and I found that journaling really helped me do that! I saved ticket stubs, train tickets, and many more small mementos from the trips that I went on. These notebooks will be important time capsules of all that I did long after the small details of memories have faded. I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity and I encourage you to take advantage of studying abroad and to do it even if it feels terrifying! It was worth every penny to experience and travel through Europe and I have so many fun and exciting memories and photos to share with my family and friends once I returned home.
If you ever have any questions about studying abroad please reach out! :)
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Hi! My name is Rachel Alliker and I am a Junior Psychology major and Spanish and Honors Forum double minor at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY! I am from Greenwich, CT and I’m excited to be studying abroad in Amsterdam with IES (Spring 2023). At Skidmore, I am one of the head tour guides, a Writing Center tutor, a sustainability office volunteer. I’m also a part of the Positive Psychology Lab and Co-Vice President of the Honors Forum. Outside of academics, I love to bake, read, spend time with my friends and my dogs.