Elinor Sheridan on her Third Year Abroad in the Netherlands
I would say that I am an optimistic, positive person, and so I was a little apprehensive going into the year abroad in case I had unrealistic expectations, but I decided to make the most of whatever the situation. I’m lucky to have found a good balance – I was excited for a new adventure, but the experience still far exceeded my expectations. I’m very fortunate that my first semester in Nijmegen was almost postcard-perfect! Looking back, it’s hard to fault it.
I had never been to the Netherlands before, and so I didn’t even have the stereotypical Amsterdam preconceptions, but arriving at the Hoek van Holland (I got the ferry across) I was instantly surprised at just how flat it was – quite foreign to someone used to the valleys of Wales, the seven hills of Sheffield and the Pyrénées in France.
I spent the first semester of my Year Abroad as an exchange student at the Radboud Universiteit. My new Dutch school somehow felt familiar to me – a leafy campus and very accommodating lecturers made sure it wasn’t too difficult to settle into the academic side of life. Being the only international student in a couple of my classes, the other students were very friendly and fascinated that I was learning Dutch and helped me a lot. I started playing both hockey and football again at the university and made many Dutch and international friends who helped me discover the less-touristy side of the city and the country.
It is definitely the little moments that stick out the most! I remember a night out in the town of Eindhoven at a silent disco with friends who exclusively spoke Dutch and feeling so grateful for the moment because I no longer felt anxious about my Dutch. We love some Dutch courage -- pardon the obligatory joke. Or when I got my Dutch bank card and cashiers no longer spoke English to me at the sight of my stroopwafels and my bright Monzo card!
Now I’m back in Wales, I miss watching the boats pass along the Waal river from my window and chilling on the loggia with friends as the sun sets… I am incredibly grateful to have had that unforgettable opportunity to find a space for myself in Nijmegen and in the Netherlands and I will definitely be returning soon!
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