In a few days I will leave for Rotterdam, Netherlands. I’m not really sure what to expect yet, but I am both nervous and excited. I know it will be an adventure, and I want to see as much of Europe as I can, but I don’t know the customs and culture there and I am worried it will be hard to assimilate. I am writing to let you know what I am thinking before leaving on my trip, and how I expect this trip to influence me.
I have a few goals for while I’m there. The first is to stay on top of my schoolwork. My sister warned me that being abroad makes it hard to focus on your work because there are so many new and exciting things to do and see. She said she had trouble with it, so I want to make sure I stay on top of that. The second thing is to explore Europe. Although I want to see as much as Rotterdam as I can, I do not want to limit myself to this city and instead I want to travel on weekends so I can get to as many countries as possible. My final goal is to find a way to stay active. It is the middle of winter in northern Europe, and I must make sure that I stay in shape even though the weather isn’t good.
In my ICE block last semester we learned about how companies must adjust their marketing and business models in order to reach customers in other countries. I want to learn how to do that while I’m here. That doesn’t necessarily mean I will learn that in the classroom, but I want to understand the cultural differences that companies would have to model around if they are to come to the Netherlands or another European country. Another thing I’d like to learn, while not related to global business, is some coding which I hear we will do in my information management class.
In the Netherlands they obviously speak Dutch, and I know no Dutch, so I am hoping people are well-versed in English there. I know some Spanish, yet that should not help me while I’m there. From what I hear, it is one of the better European countries when it comes to speaking English. This is great because the language is a hard one to learn. I expect to learn some basic Dutch, such as “hello” and “thank you”, but unless it becomes a problem to only know English I don’t think I will take the time to truly teach myself the language because it is not one often used outside the country.
I don’t know that much about the culture right not. I hear from my family friend who lives in Amsterdam that they are nice people who don’t often break rules, and that they like Americans enough. One thing that I must watch out for is the culture of stealing bikes. Apparently people will simply take whatever bike is available, ride it, and then leave it for the next person to take when they arrive. I plan on getting a bike, but I do not want to partake in this culture so I will make sure that I get a great lock.
Some preconceived stereotypes I have of the Netherlands include that there are windmills everywhere, and that they eat a lot of cheese. This gets me excited to go because windmills are beautiful and I love to eat cheese. However, I have not idea how urban Rotterdam is, and there may only be windmills in the countryside.
I think that after this semester I will be much more independent. I am living in a two person apartment with my friend, and we will have to cook our own meals. I’ve never done that before, especially because last year I didn’t even have a kitchen. I hope to become a decent enough cook while I’m there. I also want to become a neater person, and I think that only having one roommate will force me to be a little neater.
In all, I am not sure what to expect but I think I am ready. I need to plan out where I plan on traveling to so that I can get a head start on my travels. I’ll keep in touch and tell you how it is going!