Rotterdam: A Letter to Myself

Predeparture Blog 1

Dear Tyzo,

Traveling to a foreign country to study abroad is an excellent opportunity for you to further your business learning. Although you have studied abroad before in London, this will be a completely different cultural experience and incorporate the challenges of a different language, as well. The Netherlands is an international country and RSM an international school, which will make the opportunities for intercultural understanding that much deeper.


You have three main goals for this semester as you travel to the Netherlands and settle in to learning for the semester. First, you hope to develop a social and business understanding of Dutch culture, enough to feel comfortable living there potentially full-time. Second, find a group of friends from around the globe, forming business and personal relationships. Finally, bring a new perspective on international ways of discussing and interpreting business challenges.


I hope Dutch business differs enough from American business practices to get a good feeling for a different way of conducting professional relationships and strategies. For instance, I anticipate that the tolerance for risk, ways of interacting with colleagues, and/or legal concerns may vary greatly from those in the US. With that in mind, I hope to get a better understanding of how and why decisions are made in the NL.


Although in my previous trips to Amsterdam I had no issues communicating in strictly English and expect this will continue to be the case, I will work to learn some Dutch phrases, at least enough to communicate my interest in the language and willingness to learn.


Culturally, the Dutch are often defined by Amsterdam and architectural and societal stereotypes like tulips, canals, windmills, etc. I know there is more to the country from my friends and previous trips, but hope to learn a good deal more about the true Dutch culture beyond the American perception.


I know, for instance, that the Dutch are a laid-back people but also have some German-like qualities of order and timeliness. These are interesting and seem counterintuitive but provide an interesting way of viewing the world.


At the end of this semester, I anticipate my viewpoint will have shifted considerably. Although I will be abroad for only a few months, I know from previous experience that an abroad mentality includes cultural as well as practical differences in actions, such as greater consideration for others and their reactions and an acknowledgement of cultural norms. All in all, I hope this experience helps me grow and mature and gain a better perspective socially and professionally.


Tyzo Mennitt

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