My First Week Abroad

Tomorrow will mark one week since I left the Mitten State and settled into a new life in The Netherlands.

After traveling for an entire day and landing in a foreign place, I made my way to the train station and realized how utterly alone I really was. – A pretty depressing start to this blog post, eh?

Once I finally retrieved my luggage from the dreadful baggage claim, I took the morning train from Amsterdam Schipol to Utrecht Centraal. As I hauled my luggage across both train stations, I looked around at the masses of people heading to work or starting their day, and I felt very small in this new city.

I cannot speak or read the Dutch language and I was naive to think I could easily navigate Utrecht after never having visited before. Public transportation is not common in the motor city and I can’t remember the last time I rode on a train or city bus. For the first time in my life, I experienced serious culture shock.

According to my best blogging friend, Wikipedia, culture shock is the feeling a person gets when they are in a new territory. I would say this feeling is hard to describe, but Wikipedia says individuals facing culture shock may have an overwhelming feeling of homesickness, experience a technology gap, and boredom. Wikipedia is correct in describing how I felt. Per usual.

Luckily for me, though, I wasn’t completely alone.

My new boss at the hostel met me at the train station and helped me get settled into my new home. I’m referring to this place as home, because after a few days of living at Stone Hostel, that’s exactly what this place is to me.

Maybe it’s because every person I have met here has worked in the hospitality business, or maybe my new coworkers and friends are just exceptionally awesome, but everyone has been so wonderful to me.

I experienced my first coffeeshop, went shopping at a European H&M, took a day trip to Amsterdam, and ate the all of the bitterballen I could get my hands on – all thanks to my new friends.

This past week has been crazy and exciting in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I have had conversations with people from all over the world, put myself in uncomfortable situations, and in the process I have gained a new outlook on life. I feel more relaxed and happy with my decision to come to Utrecht.

If this was only week one, I can’t imagine what is yet to come.

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9 thoughts on “My First Week Abroad

  1. mary hogan January 18, 2016 / 10:56 pm

    I’m glad you’re getting settled in. I really miss you. I can’t wait to come visit you in the Netherlands. Love you, Mom

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  2. Jennifer Spicer January 19, 2016 / 3:38 pm

    It sounds like you are having a great start to your time abroad. We miss you at the PCC but we are so excited for you to have this opportunity and to share it with us when you return.

    Like

  3. Paige January 31, 2016 / 2:41 am

    I found your blog through tumblr and I’m so excited for your study abroad in the Netherlands! I’m glad it’s gone smoothly so far and I think that’s awesome you’re working at the hostel and studying. That idea never even crossed my mind when I studied abroad and the university housing wasn’t worth it, so I’ll definitely recommend this option to people from now on!
    I’ll be visiting the Netherlands this summer so I’m looking forward to seeing more posts on the cities there/things to do and see, etc. Have a blast!!

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    • Lindsey Hogan January 31, 2016 / 8:44 am

      Thank you so much! This opportunity has changed my life, and I would recommend the workaway website to anyone who’s traveling long term! I hope my stories make you even more excited to visit here. Thanks for reading 🙂

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  4. kelseywatson6 April 13, 2016 / 3:14 pm

    Hey Lindsey! I loved finding this. I am also a student from Michigan who lived in the Netherlands (a half an hour from you in a town called Wageningen) so it’s so fun finding people to relate to. It’s also something I like to write about because I fell so in love with it. Utrecht is one of my favorite cities, I bet you’re really enjoying it.
    Are you working at a hostel as a part of your exchange program, or are you an EU passport holder?

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    • Lindsey Hogan April 17, 2016 / 7:17 pm

      Thanks Kelsey! It’s so nice to know there’s someone out there who’s experienced what I’m going through right now! What was your favorite part about your time in the Netherlands? Do you have any good suggestions?

      I’m actually doing a workaway in addition to my study, which is how I found a job at the hostel. If you’re interested in a workaway, check out their website at workaway.info. I would definitely recommend it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • kelseywatson6 April 18, 2016 / 3:51 am

        Yeah I ended up reading more of your articles and found that. Living in a workaway during a study abroad is such a good idea. I really wish I would’ve thought of something like that then as well. Such a good experience and money saver.
        Hm. It’s tough to pin down a favourite part. I love everything. So much so that I actually plan to move back when I finish school and call it my home one day. Haha. I really love Dutch people and attitudes the most. And I love the language funny enough.
        As for suggestions I think I’d just say that I really hope you’re taking the time to get to know Dutch people instead of just Americans and other internationals. I know how hard it can be to get stuck in that bubble when on exchange but it’s so worth it when you get to know the culture a bit better. Also to check out some less traveled to places if you get the opportunity. Head up to Texel, an island in the North. It’s nice that you’re there when it’s warm too so you have some nice outdoor activities. Lots of music and food festivals too! (There’s a food truck festival in Rotterdam I really love that should be coming up in May). Take advantage! If you have any questions about anything or want to chat about it anytime just let me know. I really love talking about Holland and comparisons to home with people who have had similar experiences. Have fun!

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