5 Expectations for Studying Abroad

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A year from now I’ll be reminiscing on my time abroad, and thinking back to how much I changed (or didn’t).

I have friends who have studied or interned abroad, and their stories have always seemed so extraordinary and significant. I hope that one day I’ll be able to share my own stories that inspire people to travel or study abroad.

But of course, having friends with these stories means I have some pretty high expectations for my own time abroad, so I’d like to share with you my top five expectations for living, working, and studying in the Netherlands.

1. I’m going to meet the most interesting people while working at a hostel.

Have you ever stayed in a hostel? Cause I sure haven’t. I didn’t even know what a hostel was until a few months ago. When I think of a traveler that frequents a hostel, I picture a solo dude with dreadlocks that has an accent you just can’t seem to place, who has become a professional backpacker, and often ends conversations with “Namaste.

I’m actually very hopeful that I will meet someone who fits this description, so fingers crossed.

2. I will rarely attend my classes, but still manage to pass them all. 

The European approach to school is so different from the United States. At Ferris, I am required to attend all of my class lectures, complete approximately five assignments of homework for each class every week, and take three to five exams each semester, for every. single. class. But did you know that in Europe it’s typical for professors to make their lectures optional? Yep, you read that right. There’s also no homework and only one exam at the end of the semester. Hallelujah!

3. My alcohol tolerance will be tested, but I will ultimately win in the end. 

For those of you who know me, I can carry myself pretty well while guzzling down a bottle of wine. But those European’s, they’ve got me beat. Give me a beer or anything with vodka, and I look like I’ve just eaten a Warheads Sour Candy. With the appropriate amount of mental preparation, I know I can take on the European bar scene and not look like the sloppy American people will expect me to be!

4. I will make some of the best, lifelong friends. 

How could I live a whole ocean away and not manage to make a few lasting friendships? Although leaving my friends in the United States for six months will be hard, I’m comforted knowing that there are good people everywhere.

5. My life will be changed forever. 

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I plan to run with it. I’m going to spend a semester trying new and exciting things, meeting new people, and traveling the world. I would be crazy to think that I could stay the same person after returning in July.

 

Don’t worry, after my trip ends I’ll be sure to refer back to this blog post and write a killer story about the Namaste guy I meet.

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How I Landed a Job as a Hostel Worker

For those of you who don’t know, while studying abroad I will be juggling a few classes and also a sweet gig at a hostel in the city center of Utrecht, Netherlands.

A hostel is similar to a hotel, but travelers can stay there cheaper because the rooms are set up “dorm style.” You will have your own locker for personal belongings, but share a large room with other travelers.

When I tell my coworkers and friends this, they always have two questions: How did you land a job like that? Have you seen the movie Hostel?!

For starters, I am not a scary movie fanatic, nor do I plan to be, so please don’t scare me out of working there!

And secondly, I came across this job through a website called workaway.info.

I was scrambling to find a place to stay for the semester because the student housing through my university was so expensive! Yes, I know I’m studying abroad and will need to splurge once in awhile, but I was also up for a unique experience so I began searching for alternative (cheap) housing. I looked into the possibility of a home stay, but couldn’t find anything close enough to the city, or anything that allowed me to have some free time to explore my new surroundings.

And then fate worked its magic and workaway.info fell right into my lap (metaphorically, of course).

Workaway.info is a website that allows travelers to work part time in the country that they’re traveling to, typically in exchange for a bed and some authentic cuisine. You can work in so many different countries for as little as a week, or as long as months on end.

You can even sign up as a single person or with your significant other! The only catch was paying a fee for creating your account, but the fee covers a membership for two years. ($29 for a single person or $38 for a couple)

After creating my profile that detailed my skills, interests and hobbies, plus a few pictures so interested hosts would know I’m not a robot, I was ready to reach out to possible hosts.

I searched for opportunities in Utrecht, Netherlands, where I will be staying, and found nine options. After reading each profile, I sent a message to three hosts, two of which were volunteer positions at hostels.

I didn’t hear back from any of the hosts for two weeks, and I almost lost hope. But if I’ve learned one thing from the process of studying abroad, it would be to never give up!

I received an email two weeks later from the owners of the hostel and they offered me a position!

In exchange for working 12-16 hours a week, I will be sharing an apartment with four other female workers and I will have my groceries paid for (basic ingredients to make breakfast, lunch and dinner).

I will primarily have reception duties, in addition to making sure the hostel is clean and up to the guests standards.

In no way will this be the typical study abroad experience, but I’ve always been open to new things and I’m excited to see what this opportunity will bring me.

Disclaimer: This is not intended to be an advertisement or promotion for workaway.info. This is simply me sharing my experience through their website.