My year abroad has officially ended, I’ve handed in my departure form and I’ve got the ball rolling on de-registering as a Nijmegen citizen. I do still have my flat until mid July so there’ll be some more Dutch posts coming your way, but until then here’s what I’ve learnt this year, and how it’s changed me!
- I’ve become more social- I don’t think I used to be anti-social per se, but going to a foreign country and not knowing anyone has forced me to talk to new people and socialise a hell of a lot more. Within a few weeks of living here I’d already gone on a trip to Brussels, sharing a hostel room with my friends, who really I barely knew! Also, cooking for each other is way more of a thing here. I’ve gone to my friends places for dinners and they’ve come to mine. It’s little things like this which have made me more social and more comfortable being so.
- I’ve become more understanding- Again, I’ve never been not understanding, but this year has thrown me amongst people I never would’ve crossed paths with before. Back in England my friendship group is incredibly white and straight, and it’s in this respect that I’ve learnt more about people. One of my closest male friends here is a German gay guy who spent a year hiding his sexuality whilst living with a Christian family in deep South Texas for a year. That is such a story, and it can’t help but broaden your horizons. Another of my friends, a South Korean, who had to join the army for a few years before he could go to university. Maybe I’d have met people like this without this experience, but I certainly wouldn’t have met so many, and spent so much time with them to fully understand them.
- I’ve become less prejudiced- A year ago today if you mentioned Eastern Europe I’d think of intimidating men and widespread poverty. Now, I’ve been to Poland twice, I’ve been to Romania, Czech Republic, and I’ve met plenty of others from similar places. I’ve seen just how friendly the people are, and how beautiful the places are! It’s not until you experience something first hand that you can really make a decision about somewhere!
I realise reading this back that I’m making myself to be the perfect, most well rounded person ever. I’m not that much of a pretentious dick head I promise!
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