Slade Baumann ‘14 is an Honors alumnus who is currently enrolled in the Information Technology Master’s Program at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He is studying abroad for six months at HAN University in the Netherlands as part of an exchange program. He currently owns a blog, https://sladesjourneytothenetherlands.wordpress.com, in which he writes about his travels and experiences. At the midway point of the semester, he updates us on his experiences in Europe.
Going abroad changes you. Honors students: if you ever have the opportunity to study abroad at this crucial point of learning and freedom in your life, don’t hesitate. The experiences you’ll have will not only teach you about the world, but also about yourself.
Before talking about what I have experienced here in the Netherlands, I think my motivations for studying abroad are important to recognize. The Honors Program has given me many opportunities to learn about other cultures and to experience them firsthand. Upon graduation, no experience had impacted me as much as my semester learning about Belize and working with students in San Pedro, Belize as part of the Spring 2014 honors seminar Service-Learning in Belize. This course proved to me that there was so much more world out there, full of unique individuals and culture.
Ever since that pivotal moment in my life, I have had the urge to travel and meet new people. Naturally, when the opportunity to live, study, and work in the Netherlands arose, I focused all my efforts on that chance to experience a different culture firsthand. I was accepted into the exchange program and have been living in the Netherlands since the end of January.
This experience has taught me a lot about culture and about myself. I started here with the driving urge to meet people, see everything, try all of the local food, listen to Dutch music, etc. Being in a new country for the first time is exhilarating. As time went on, I started to realize how truly small I was in such a large world. This may sound like a negative thing to realize and, admittedly, it was hard for me to deal with at first. However, it is one of the most valuable lessons that I have learned in life. This realization only makes me want to travel even more and interact with new people. I’ve already met people from all over Europe, who all have different pasts and experiences. I have started to appreciate how important each person is and the uniqueness that they all possess.
If you are considering studying abroad while at the University, do it. You will learn so much about the world and about what you want in life. It will truly test your independence and your will to succeed. Take advantage of the many opportunities that the Honors Program provides you to grow your cultural competency. One (or many) of them could change the course of your life.