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Study Abroad in Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Haydn Hornstein-Platt

Major: Sociology (BA), Psychology (BS)
Hometown: Narberth, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I was always interested in studying abroad, and I was particularly interested in Amsterdam because of their reputation of being particularly socially progressive. As a Sociology student, I was really interested in learning more about their social policy and comparing it to US policy. I met with Scott Runner at the University Office of Global Programs and we discussed the program, and he assisted me throughout the process.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

Studying abroad was a rewarding experience. There are the obvious rewards, like getting to live in a new place and learn about another culture, try new foods, and travel, but I think the best reward comes out of the difficult parts of the experience. Arriving in Amsterdam, I knew no one. I decided to go to a place where none of my friends were going because I was interested in that experience, and I'm glad that I did. It was lonely and challenging. The things that I was so used to doing with friends every day like eating, studying, and grabbing a drink were suddenly a time to either engage with someone new or spend time alone. That process was emotionally exhausting. By the end I had made some great friends, but most importantly I had a better understanding of how to spend time with myself. I even traveled to London by myself for the weekend, and it was one of my favorite parts of the experience. Having the skill of spending time alone makes me feel exponentially more confident about graduating college and moving somewhere new next year.

How did this experience impact you academically?

University courses in the Netherlands are fairly different than in the US. We spent less time in class, but there's a lot more work to do on your own. For one course, I had about 300 pages of reading to do a week. For Dutch students, this was a breeze, but for me and many of my American peers it was difficult to get used to. Despite the difficulty, adjusting to the new structure was a fun change of pace, and helped me to feel generally more prepared to write my thesis and continue on to graduate school, as I have more experience now with self-directed academics.

My studies and experience abroad did not directly relate to my career goals, but I feel more confident that I could move to a new country or city for a job. 

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

I would like to work as a counselor, either as a social worker or a psychologist, and work in the field of integrative mental health care. My studies and experience abroad did not directly relate to my career goals, but I feel more confident that I could move to a new country or city for a job. Studying abroad confirmed for me that I want to leave room in my life for travel, ideally as part of my career.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would not recommend studying abroad to everyone, but for many people I believe it is a wonderful and enriching experience. I am glad that I went, and I would choose to go again if I had the opportunity, but I do want to acknowledge that studying abroad is not all fun. It's challenging socially, emotionally and physically. Depending on where someone is in their life, that type of challenge may not be the best option. However, I think that anyone can benefit from leaving their own world for a few months and experiencing something new.

For more information on global experiences for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.

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