Traveling abroad can be a daunting thing. Miles away from home, different foods, and maybe even different languages than what you’re used to. Homesickness and culture shock are natural things to experience while you’re away but don’t let that hinder you from experiencing your time abroad to the fullest. If there is one thing my time in the Netherlands has taught me, it would be to try new things! There are a couple ways you can change your mindset if you’re beginning to feel stuck, overwhelmed, or out of place during your time abroad. I would encourage you to practice waking up with gratitude for the experience you get to have overseas. This trip through Millennium Tours has been organized specifically for you and your group– now you get to take the reins of the trip and truly make it your own. Here are a few ways that The Netherlands taught me to explore… I hope you can learn from them too!
If ever there was a time to explore new foods, a study abroad trip is it! Each place you visit has something that makes it uniquely the place it is. Food is incredibly intertwined with culture and a place’s history. You’d be surprised at how much you can learn just from asking yourself the question “what makes this cuisine special to this place?”
Another crucial element of a culture is the language itself. In all my travels, Amsterdam was the first place I visited that I had no background knowledge of the language. The sounds a language utilizes, common phrases, and figures of speech shape a culture or region’s mentality. The language we use is one of the ways we shape our worldview. Dive into what is right in front of your face (and likely on every sign, restaurant, or transportation system). I found this to be incredibly informative on the character of the country.
Keeping true to the theme of cultural exploration, one of the most vivid expressions of culture that you can experience is art. Museums, theatre, street art, architecture, you name it! Art is everywhere and often provides a deeper insight to a land or a people. Dig deep into what is around you. Some of my favorite memories of my time in Amsterdam took place in museums like the Van Gogh museum or the Rijksmuseum!
Finally, if your stay is mostly centralized in one location, look for ways you can experience more of the country you’re in. For me, this looked like taking a day trip to another Dutch city, Utrecht. Having a second reiteration of the nature of the country helped form a more well-rounded view of the Netherlands in my mind. And what’s great about this last pro tip is that travel opens up doors to all the other opportunities– new foods, language, and the arts!
There is no time like the present to soak up all that your trip is worth. In recap, it’s more than okay to have cultural questions and feel like everything is moving a million miles an hour but you don’t have to be controlled by your emotions. Use them to feed your curiosity about the place you find yourself in. Who knows what adventures are in store?