Study abroad? Yes.


Photos courtesy of: Sophie Pauline

Sophie Pauline, Correspondent

Editor’s note: Sophie Pauline is studying abroad in London this semester, and will be writing about her experiences as the semester goes on.

Should I …

Go on this trip to Amsterdam for a week? Yes.

Go to these seemingly stupid orientation events? I’m 21 years old, I don’t need that…no! I mean, yes. GO.

Try a Dutch pancake with bacon on it? Yes.

Go to another pub with this new group of people? Yes.

Should I walk an hour and a half home from class since it’s a nice day? Yes.

Should I ride two buses for almost two hours to see a local musician play?

Stay up until 6 a.m. to watch the Superbowl?

Ask for a hug when I miss home?

Go to the Tate Modern alone on my afternoon off?

Take time to wander?

Go to a morning rave on a Wednesday?

You get where I’m going with this.

Two weeks after my arrival in the United Kingdom, where I’m studying abroad at King’s College of London for the semester, some of my new friends invited me on a trip to Amsterdam for a couple of days. A week later I was rushing home from my Friday night university course to quickly pack my bags and hop on an overnight bus to the Netherlands. I had barely been settled into my life as a pseudo-Londoner, and I was already leaving.

We were dropped from the bus in the middle of definitely-not-central-Amsterdam (don’t tell my mother) without Euros or Internet connection to get us to our hostel. So we wandered a little ways, found a tram, and managed to get to a more populated area. After getting some coffee and Wi-Fi, we found our way to our hostel and got comfortable for a second.

The next days were filled with adventures wandering down alleys to find supposed street art, exploring the red light district, trying stroopwafel and frites with “sauce” (otherwise known as fries with mayo; needless to say I only tried that once), and much more.

One of the friends I traveled with is from Australia and had a friend studying at Utrecht University, which was just a train and two bus rides away from Amsterdam. A party celebrating Australia Day was taking place while we were in the country, so the group of us were invited to join the celebration.

I soon discovered that Utrecht University has an abundance of study abroad students from Australia, so I felt a bit out of place at first, but by the end, I was initiated as an honorary Aussie.

The study abroad students I met over those two days in Utrecht proved to be fun and exciting, but they also opened my eyes to the opportunity before me.

The students were enjoying their last week in the Netherlands before they trekked back to their home countries. All they kept saying was how their study abroad experience had flown by.

They found home in a new country and developed lasting friendships with people who were strangers six months prior.

I looked at them and could see my future self. It was then I realized how I must appreciate every moment on this trip, fully engaging myself in this new life, because sooner than I would realize, it will be over.

As we were leaving, one of the guys said if he could tell us anything as were beginning our journey, it’d be: “You can never say ‘no.’ It’s always gotta be a ‘yes.’”

That’s already shaping up to be good advice.