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Leaving Friends while Traveling Abroad

Hello again from the Netherlands! In today’s blog post I am going to talk about my experience with leaving friends behind when I moved from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Maastricht in the Netherlands. Specifically, I am going to tell you about how I felt leaving my friends, being
unable to see them for 2 years, and my experience finally returning to, and seeing them after those 2 years.

As many students studying outside the US near their departure date, it is quite common to feel anxious and worried. I can personally relate to these feelings because, I promise you, I felt exactly the same way! The day I left, and I looked at my room one last time I could feel the tears welling up. Not because I was sad or regretting leaving, but because I was nervous. I had lived all that time in this one house, in my room; it was familiar and home to me.

As I said my goodbye to my friends one final time, I again felt those tears welling up in my eyes. I was obviously going to miss them greatly, but I also knew I would see them again. I think that was the hardest part, honestly, of saying goodbye to friends and family. I do miss Milwaukee, the city in which I lived before moving to the Netherlands, but there are new distractions and new places to see where I am now, but I think for most people it is the people you leave behind you miss the most.

Reading this far you might think it’s a bit doom and gloom, but there’s good news! We live in the time of technology. We can communicate non-stop with others. And that’s how I have kept
my friendships alive for these past 2 years.

For the most part, I was able to keep in touch over Snapchat and Instagram, by texting, and keeping up to date by watching people’s stories. I also tried to call my friends whenever I could. Unfortunately for me and my friends, we pretty much sucked at communicating via the phone even when we were at home, three blocks away from each other. Therefore, it took a bit of time to find time, but that varies per person.

If you put in the effort, you will not lose your true friends, you guys will be in it for the long
run:) I do say “true friends” because obviously it is impossible to stay in touch with everyone from
high school. I personally became closer with my ‘best friends’ because we both had to make
more of an effort to stay in contact, so our time together was more appreciated.

Unfortunately, as my first year came to an end, and summer neared, it became apparent to me
that the situation occurring at the time with COVID would make returning to the US extremely difficult. This was a big blow for me. Thankfully my family had moved back to Europe before
the COVID crisis began, so I could see my family during that summer, however I was
not able to see my friends from back home.

Honestly it was hard for me, but since travel was still possible within European countries, I was
able to distract myself with small trips with my new friends I had made at Maastricht University.
Fast forward another year, and thankfully COVID chilled out enough for me to finally be able to
return to Milwaukee to see my friends! My trip back was amazing, I spent the month couch
surfing at my closest friends’ house in the student area of Milwaukee. I was able to reconnect
with more than 8 of my close friends from High School, and even met up with people I hadn’t
talked to at all during my 2 years away.

When I arrived and first saw my friends it honestly felt like no time had passed at all. We began
to update each other on everything that had happened in the past months and planned what we
wanted to do while I was back. I was able to revisit my old neighborhood, all my old hangout
and food spots, as well as go camping, to the Six Flags Great America theme park, sports games
(Go Bucks!), and even go camping.

Once my trip came to an end, it was once again time for goodbyes. This time around however
they were not as hard. I didn’t have that fear of losing them because I knew we would stay in
touch, and would see each other next summer. In addition, I knew I wa s coming back to Maastricht, to my new friends, and my more recent home.

Overall, I just want to hopefully calm some of the nerves about first leaving home for university abroad. I know it is hard, and you might be scared, but from reading this I hope you can see that leaving friends behind shouldn’t scare you too much. It will be a big change, but new experiences and people will come and fill your time while away from home! When you can visit home again, things will fall back into place if you try while away to keep in contact a bit 🙂

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Podcast: Studying with ADHD in Europe

Title

Studying with ADHD in Europe

college in europe

Episode Summary

In today’s episode, Jenn welcomes Liza, one of the original BTS members, who some of you might know from TikTok. She will talk about her experience studying in Europe, as a student with ADHD.

Furthermore, Liza will share her insights in how to utilize her strengths related to diagnosis and all the knowledge about strategies that help her personally in areas she struggles with. Tune in and learn how to use your disabilities as an advantage!

However, before we jump into an interview with Liza, you will get the latest updates on Sam’s studies in Europe and how he overcame the difficulties studying amid the global pandemic.

In addition, you’ll find all about October special, a Crunch Time Pack which is offered only twice a year. Get your Best Fit List soon enough! It’s limited to 5 students only.

“The positive thing about ADHD? When something is enjoyable, you can dive in!” Liza Majeski

Special Offer: Get VIP Crunch Time Pack during the October Special

Guest: Liza Miezejeski

What you will hear in this episode:

  • Sam’s experience with ADHD through middle and high school
  • The challenges he faced studying online in the COVID era and
  • Why he transferred to study at Anglo American University in Prague
  • Liza’s experience studying in the EU as a student with ADHD
  • How to utilize strengths related to diagnosis
  • More stories of students with ADHD in Europe
  • Liza’s background in schooling with a learning disability
  • Deciding best options and programs for an ADHD student
  • Binding Study Advice in EU and other obstacles
  • How EU Universities adapted Covid measures
  • From Prague to Brussels: Going to different schools every year
  • Liza’s 504 plan
  • Advice for ADHD students that want to be proactive and develop learning skills
  • Chasing Dopamine: The positive sides of ADHD
  • Staying in Europe, or coming back to the US?

Resources:

Connect with us:

Check out our FB Page! 

Liza’s TikTok

Check out our IG Profile!

Check out our TikTok!

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Podcast: All around Europe with Anya

college in europeTitle

All around Europe with Anya

Episode Summary

Welcome back to another episode of the Beyond the States podcast! In today’s interview with Jenn, Anya talks about a unique study program in Europe in which a student studies in a different city/country each year.

Far away from her birthplace in Colorado, now a student in ESCP University, our guest will talk about how she found the right college in the EU, why she’d decided for that kind of program, and what track she’ll pursue in time to come. Anya reveals how it’s like to learn foreign languages and cultures (3 times in a row) during challenging times of COVID issues, and much more!

Besides, Jenn is having a word about who has made her life considerably easier during her stay in Portugal. Have you ever heard about Bruno “The Fixer”?

Guest

Anya Berchtold

What you will hear in this episode:

  • ESCP program: Studying in 3 different countries
  • Who is Bruno, and how he “fixed” Jenn’s life in Portugal
  • Using school & system resources, or going full self-righteous way
    (or… using someone like Bruno)
  • From Boulder, Colorado, to being Down and Up in Paris and London
  • Finding the right college and study program in Europe
  • Anya’s EU roots and family background
  • The choices in ESCP: Paris, London, Madrid, Turin, Berlin… Where to go?
  • Student life in EU: How it’s like to adjust, find a residence, and much more
  • The Graduation: The % of students that go to the Master, and the % of students that go to the workforce (and what % gets the job)

Special Offer:

We’re running a special offer right now to celebrate the return of the podcast, check out the deal here!  

Resources:

Connect with us:

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Carolina On My Mind

Well, after almost two years abroad, we are moving back to North Carolina!  Tom has accepted a position in a company he is really excited about, which requires us to live in the US. This has been in the works for a couple of months now, but I needed to keep it under wraps until it was official, and he let his current employer know.

There are a lot of mixed feelings around this move. Though we left the US in January of 2020, we got to Portugal in March. This was right when Europe shut down and we’ve been in and out of different levels of restrictions since we got here.

We really haven’t had an opportunity to fall in love with Portugal. That’s not because there is anything wrong with Portugal, but because it’s hard to really get to know a place under these circumstances. Until this summer, restrictions made it difficult to enjoy the ease of European travel offered by living here as well.

Luckily, Ellie had in-person school most of the time and she has made wonderful friends who she will keep in touch with. Covid restrictions closed the school to parents, so Tom and I weren’t able to form the same community there. I have made some close friends, but the importance of community  became evident to me when I was back in North Carolina this summer.  For me, community is different than friendships (though there may be overlap).  It’s about having some sort of connection and regular interaction with people who have shared values or interests. Many of the farmers and regular customers at the Carrboro Farmers Market hold a significant part of my community and it felt so good to be back. Even going to Pilates and catching up with people I knew from before provided a sense of connection that I didn’t realize I was missing. I believe that we could have formed that community in Portugal if it weren’t for Covid lockdowns and such.

I’ve learned a lot about myself since we lived here, which has been very valuable.  Part of this relates to my identity as an American.  When we moved, it wasn’t to get away from North Carolina.  We really loved the area where we lived. That said, we had a lot of concerns about various matters/issues in the country and were also eager to remove ourselves from the hostile political environment. Here’s the thing though….whether I live in Portugal, the US, or Antarctica those same concerns affect me. I didn’t experience much of the hostile divide in my everyday life in the US. Social media was my main exposure to this divide which is something I experience no matter where I am living.  What I’ve learned is that I really do identify as an American, in addition to a global citizen. There are elements of the US that I’m proud of and others that I’m not. Moving back will allow me to be more active in causes that I feel strongly about.

There are a number of things I will miss about living here. Though I haven’t been able to spend much time with them due to lockdowns, my brother and his family live just 30 minutes away from us. I had looked forward to getting to watching my niece and nephew grow up. I love the pretty constant 70 degree weather with sunny skies, walking on the ocean every day, the incredible shellfish, and the extremely affordable health care!

There are also a number of things we’re looking forward to in the US.  My dad and stepmother are less than 15 minutes away from us and Ellie is looking forward to the weekly dinners they used to have. She’s also incredibly excited to be back with her long-time friends, get her driver’s license, and get a job. Ellie’s never been to Mexico, so we’re looking at a beach vacation sometime before she graduates. I can’t wait to get back to my friends, family, and also my community. I look forward to driving without anxiety, running more than one appliance at a time without blowing a fuse, not having to use a VPN, and grocery stores with so many options! Tom is most excited for the taco truck he has missed and the craft beer store where he meets his friends.

I’m also looking forward to language learning.  My Portuguese lessons challenged me in a way that I really enjoyed. Though I don’t plan to continue Portuguese, I am going to start learning Spanish.

The most significant things I’ve learned through this experience are more around how I want to approach life than anything else. When we first moved, our goal was to stay five years and apply for citizenship. Being open to possibilities allowed us to explore and pursue a path that was not aligned with that goal.  Since I’m a big planner and goal oriented, being open to different options is something that is difficult for me. Exploring, pursuing, and being excited about a path that is different from our original goal helped me learn the real value in being open to possibilities.

More than anything else, moving abroad has made me really see the world as a place that is open to us (well, except during a global pandemic). Moving abroad as a family is no joke. It’s a lot of work, logistics, and bureaucratic hoops. And we’ve done it now. Twice.  I have no doubt that if we want to do it again down the road that we can and we will.  It’s this confidence, this identification as a citizen of the world, that our students living abroad obtain as well. And it’s really an incredible feeling!

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Podcast: Studying and Playing Baseball in the Netherlands

college in europe

Title

Studying and Playing Baseball in the Netherlands

Episode Summary

In this week’s episode, Jenn discusses with Adam, a US student currently studying in Rotterdam. Our guest talks about a number of his experiences beyond the States, including the fact that he plays competitive baseball in the Netherlands.

Learn more about Adam’s background, how it looks like to study as an international student in Europe, and the main differences between the US and EU school systems. Moreover, find out how American students get used to European life, especially during the COVID era. Tune in and hear out firsthand from our young, and yet so mature guest, Adam!

“You’re going to learn 10% in the classroom. Plant seed and water the relationships. That’s where you really learn from, the people you connect with.” Adam’s Dad

What you will hear in this episode:

  • How hard it’s for international students to adapt to Europe
  • The differences between US & EU school system
  • Why US university campuses are like a bubble, while EU student residences make you bonded with the city and academic community
  • Off the pressure: Leisure of EU collegian sports
  • Which “Greek System” is better?
  • Where do students go after their first years in the student residence?
  • Adam’s family background: Support, preparation, motivation
  • How you can play “pro” baseball in Europe
  • Minor & Major plans of a student and how does COVID affect them

Special Offer:

We’re running a special offer right now to celebrate the return of the podcast, check out the deal here!  

Resources

Connect with us:

 

 

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School Visit to Cork, Ireland

My weekends as a preteen in the mid-80s often involved trips to Blockbuster with friends.  If we weren’t renting Mask (with Cher) for the millionth time, then a National Lampoon movie was a likely pick. Say what you will, but European Vacation remains one of my favorites of the series.  I can’t even count how many times Sam, Ellie, and I have said “Look kids, Big Ben” as Tom struggled with traffic circle exits in various countries.

Anyhow, you might recall the bicyclist from the movie.  Chevy Chase continually causes all sort of accidents that injure this character, but each time the cyclist responds with kindness, friendliness, and unnecessary apologies. Though this part of the movie took place in London, I thought of it often while we were in Ireland.

As an introvert, I am not someone who enjoys small talk with strangers. By this, I mean strangers who will stay strangers-like the person sitting next to me on the plane. Small talk exhausts me, so expending that energy with someone I will likely not see again doesn’t appeal to me. Every single person I met in Ireland was just so genuinely friendly, that conversations didn’t feel like small talk with a stranger. It was really remarkable. I was talking to an administrator from University College Dublin, who is also American and a self-proclaimed introvert like me, and he noted that it’s really hard to truly explain or understand until you experience it.  We lived in North Carolina for many years, so friendliness from strangers is something I’m familiar with, but this is something beyond that.

We started our trip in Cork, which was a three-hour train ride from Dublin.  I was particularly excited about this part of the trip, as Cork is known as a great food destination. And it did not disappoint!  The cheeses were particularly amazing, though the emphasis on local food was prevalent in many places around the city. I walked past more than one kebab shop that advertised using only local Irish lamb. I also like that it’s a smaller city, which made getting around and exploring quite easy. Though not evident in the summer, it’s a university city, with about 17% students included in their population of 210,000.

This trip was different than others I’ve been on. Though Irish universities plan to open in the fall, most are still closed with employees working from home. In most cases, I walked around campuses to get a feel and then had zoom calls with administrators who answered my questions.  The exception was University College Cork, as much of the staff in the International Office continued on campus work through the summer. Due to this, I was able to have an in-person meeting.

Surprisingly, there was only one rainy day on our entire trip. Of course, this happened to be the day of my meeting at UCC so after seeing the forecast I decided to check out the campus a day early. As you may know, centralized campuses are rare in Europe. Usually the different department buildings are scattered around the city. Though there are some beautiful university buildings, they aren’t generally all in one place.  The UCC campus dates back to 1845 with incredible landscaping and Gothic architecture. Even some of the newer buildings are built into original structures, which provides a striking contrast. I have to say, this must be the most beautiful campus in Europe that I have visited.

UCC has 76 bachelor’s and more than 100 masters.  This is comparable to the number offered at the other Irish universities. So how does a student choose between schools in Ireland if they are looking for a program that is offered at many of the traditional universities (as opposed to the technological instituted, which is a topic we will explore in a future post)?

A student might like UCC because of the beautiful facilities, the commitment to a green campus, the focus on sustainability and green campus, the career services offerings, the breadth of student associations, or the incredible English Market (ok that one is me…). While there are a number of aspects students could look at, one that I think is important is international student experience.

There are some aspects of the international student experience that will be common at most Irish universities.  Most of the traditional universities offer an Arts program, which is similar to liberal arts and provides a level of curricular flexibility. Housing for first year international students is (basically) guaranteed at most universities too.  Adjusting to the first year can also be easier in Ireland. I’ve been told that the friendliness and inclusiveness I experienced extends to international students. Further, since the language in Ireland is English, international students are able to access all the various clubs and associations (as opposed to only those in English as is the case in non-anglophone countries).

There are factors around the international student experience, though, that are directly affected by the international student resources in place. This was just one area in which UCC impressed me tremendously.  These supports start with the admissions process. International students apply directly to the international student office who work with the applicant to answer questions and assist with the process.  Application decisions are turned around quickly, generally within 4 weeks or so.  These supports continue after acceptance and before starting at campus.  What struck me were the ways in which the international office team goes above and beyond the help their students during this time. Before they even arrive on campus!  One example of this is the email that was sent to students this summer. It was friendly and informative without being overwhelming. They provided information about arrival, orientation, events and more as well a number of ways for students to connect through Facebook groups and such before arrival. Sam was a first year student at two different Dutch universities and the difference in this before arrival support and what he received is dramatic.

The support from this office continues after arrival and through graduation.  In addition to the orientation that is integrated with the non-international students, the international office hosts four “Essential Information” sessions for international students.  These include sessions on immigration matters, how to access various supports and resources at UCC, practical tips, and issues around culture and transition. Like the summer email, I like that the information is partialized and presented in a way as to not overwhelm the students. The staff really seemed to care about the students and their overall well-being. During covid times, they sent out regular emails, with ways to connect that were aligned with restrictions on movement and provided the students with an online hub to access supports around wellbeing.

I can’t tell you how glad I am that we added Ireland! Though more expensive than most of the offerings in continental Europe, they are still less expensive than private universities in the United States.  All the traditional universities have FAFSA numbers and accept direct federal student loans (not the Pell Grant) and some have scholarship options for international students. Of course, many of are pursuing higher education in Europe in order to avoid debt for ourselves or our children…That said, many of our members are exploring options in Europe due to other benefits around international education and/or have been saving according to US tuition rates.  If your budget includes options in the12-20k per year range, I highly suggest exploring the options in Ireland.

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Isabell in Maastricht

Hey guys, my name is Isabel Waszkiewicz. I’m originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin which I will address as “MKE” for the rest of this blog post. In this blog I am going to tell you guys about my experience moving from MKE to a smaller Dutch city.

In high school, when junior year rolled around in 2018, I was hit with an immense dilemma: Do I want to stay in the USA for my college life, or look farther from home, like in Europe. I decided to apply to schools in Europe and applied also to backup schools in Wisconsin in case I changed my mind. I ended up choosing numerous schools in the Netherlands as I wanted to focus my studies on biology, mainly human biology, and I wanted to study in an all-English course. Therefore, thorough using Beyond the States, I was able to find numerous courses fitting my needs and wants, in numerous countries. The course that best fit me and provided me with a wide variety of biology courses proved to be a program called the Maastricht Science Program (MSP). I ended up applying here, and mid-senior year I got my acceptance letter. I was beyond thrilled.

Fast forward two-and-a-half years, and I am now about to start my third and final year of university at MSP. MSP is a Liberal Arts and Sciences program based in a smaller, Southern city in the Netherlands: Maastricht. Leaving to come to Maastricht was a big change for me, not only because I didn’t know anyone, but because the city was smaller compared to the MKE I was used to, and the culture was so different.

Specifically speaking, Maastricht is slightly larger than 60 square kilometers, and has a population of about 122,400 people. Compared to Milwaukee, which is over 250 square kilometers and has a population a

lmost 5 times larger than that of Maastricht with 594,600 people. I was in for a big change. However, I could not be happier with my decision.

Personally, I find studying in a smaller city like Maastricht extremely nice and comforting. You can get to know the city, and all of its hidden spots, whereas in much larger cities I feel you can still feel a bit lost after even years of studying there. I also find since you know more areas well, there is also a greater feeling of safety in smaller cities. In large cities there commonly are areas that may not be the safest to walk through at night perhaps, but in smaller cities like Maastricht I find there are little to no unsafe areas, and if there are areas best not travelled alone at night, you know about them well due to their scarcity.

In addition, not only do you get to know the city better, but the people living there as well. In smaller cities you are very likely to get to know local people from your favorite restaurants or small stores extremely well and make connections that are scarce in larger cities. Besides locals, you are easily able to meet up with friends you meet from university whenever since almost everything is less than a 20-30 minute bike ride away. I cannot express how nice it is to run into friends on the streets, especially when you are so far from home. Almost every time I leave my house, I am able to run into, or spot someone I know. I personally find this extremely comforting as I get homesick sometimes and miss friends from back in the US, and these interactions allow relationships to grow in your new hometown.

Lastly, in smaller cities like Maastricht, commuting to class, work, or even to friend’s places is extremely easy. In fact, since the Dutch bike everywhere, I can bike to my friend’s place on the complete opposite side of the city, in under 30 minutes in Maastricht. Most places are reachable by foot, but biking provides a greater ease.

With tight schedules, this proximity helps greatly, as if you are running late, you are usually 5-10 minutes away from work even with traffic. This makes moving places, commuting to work, getting home at night, and even grocery shopping so much easier and faster.

Overall, I know moving to another country across the ocean is already a huge change and causes stress, trust me I’ve been there. I just hope this blog post takes a little bit of that stress away if you are currently worried you applied to a smaller university or will be living in a smaller city. All change is going to be somewhat stressful at first, whether that is good or ba

d stress. In the end however, you just need to realize that you are human, you will adapt, and wherever you end up will bring so many new and amazing opportunities. Take it from me, moving to a much smaller Dutch city from the US was one of, if not the best decision I have made yet in my life.

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Andrea at UCU

by Andrea Pantazi

A typical day at University College Utrecht starts with cooking breakfast in my unit’s shared kitchen. I live with eight other people, but most students only live with 4-6. This is organized differently than in the US, where this apartment-style living is not as popular. 

After getting ready, class is only a two-minute walk away. Living on a campus means that all my peers and my classes are contained in one area, making my day-to-day schedule easy and more manageable, however this is not very common in Europe. Before class, a friend and I catch up and go to Jazzman’s, the on-campus café.

Classes are typically two hours long, with a 15 minute break in the middle of the session. The class size is also relatively small, with the maximum being 28 students, but my law class has only about 10 other students, which is typical for many courses. The professor encourages group discussions and critical thinking. This is similar to other small liberal arts colleges in the US, however the different backgrounds of each student make discussions more lively and interesting. Each student at UCU has some type of international background, having lived in more than one country, or willing to travel and expand their worldly perspective.

After class is over, I walk across the quad to Voltaire, the Humanities building which also has a large study room on the second floor. There, I prepare for my next class. As a first year, I am encouraged to take advantage of the unique curriculum UCU offers and to take a variety of classes, from the Social Sciences, Sciences, and Humanities. My next and final class of the day is in the Humanities. The course is called “The Literary Canon of Human Rights”, and it encompasses a multitude of novels and how they use literary techniques to portray major world events. With my work finished, I head downstairs to the classroom and join my peers in another group discussion. This method of teaching is popular at UCU, however there are other classes that are mainly lecture-oriented, particularly in the Sciences. 

As my final class of the day finishes, I join some friends and grab a table on the terrace of the nearby cafe NOEN, which is very popular among UCU students, and later take a walk through Wilhelmina park, which is just down the street from campus. Afterwards we all head back to Voltaire to finish up some work, and later have drinks on the quad to celebrate the end of the week. Unlike in the US, we don’t have a dining hall. However, we all join together to cook easy recipes and the process is enjoyable with friends to help you.

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Adam Housing

Adam submitted this video for us a few months ago and I immediately sent it to Sam in order to light a fire under his housing search-and it worked!  I’ve enjoyed getting to know Adam through our student ambassador program and recently interviewed him for our upcoming podcast relaunch.  He had really interesting experiences to share around playing baseball in the Netherlands, his academic experiences, and his upcoming semester abroad in South Korea!

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Resilience

I recently let Sam go from his job with Beyond the States.  Since Covid limited job opportunities, I had given him a job helping Stefan with our database updates. Though Sam had developed a great work ethic working at a grocery store throughout high school, this didn’t transfer over to working for his mom and there were a series of problems (usually involving me having to call to wake him up to work which really got me riled up….). I gave him many more chances than I should have and after continued issues, I decided enough was enough.

So why am I telling you this? It’s because I’ve been thinking a lot about resilience lately. There will undoubtedly be things in life that knock our kids for a loop. They are also sure to make mistakes in life that will have consequences. I think we all want them to learn from these experiences and apply these lessons to other areas/situations in their life. We want them to develop resilience so that they know how to get back up and back on track when these things happen. I also know that I am sometimes guilty of protecting my kids from situations that would help them develop those traits.

I was recently preparing for a podcast interview with one of our members who attends ESCP. Her program involves studying in three different countries over the course of the three-year program. Having just adjusted to one country, I can’t imagine going through this each year-especially as a young adult!  Anyhow, I was looking at the website before our interview and noted that the brochure said “Studying each year in a different country will allow you to become more independent, self-reliant and resilient. All important skills for future business leaders to have!” I thought this was such an awesome way to look at it. It’s not that you have to BE independent, self-reliant and resilient in order to face challenges, it’s that navigating your way through the challenges and obstacles can LEAD to self-reliance, independence, and resilience.

I sometimes encounter parents who are worried about the level of independence needed for students in Europe.  There aren’t meal plans, so students cook for themselves.  There is much less handholding from the university and many universities will communicate only with the parents, not students. Sam spent a year eating scrambled eggs or noodles before he started to learn how to make a few more things. Some students learn that they like to cook (good to have these as friends…) and others learn that they need to know enough to get by. Either is fine! While I personally would have preferred to see some more leafy greens in his diet, this adjustment didn’t harm him in anyway and taught him a number of skills.

We have one member who started at a university in Prague this past January, right in the height of the pandemic.  Not only is the Czech Republic one of the more difficult issues with visa issues, but the pandemic made everything harder and prevented his parents from traveling and helping him.  His mother posted in the group in our Facebook member group at the end of the semester about the incredible growth she has seen as a result of him having to handle things like getting a bank account in a foreign country, learning public transportation, finding an apartment, dealing with quarantines and lockdowns, learning to plan his meals and grocery shop, seeking medical care, and working with an agency on around visa issues. I can tell you that they are things that were difficult for me as a middle-aged woman with life experiences to help me.  That our kids are navigating their way through these situations is truly amazing! That’s not to say that it’s always easy.  It took Sam SEVEN trips to the US embassy in Amsterdam to get his passport renewed. Some were due to errors on his part, others because the embassy was being particularly difficult. Nonetheless, he got it done and (hopefully) learned some important lessons throughout.

So, back to my unemployed son… I keep reminding myself that since we provide him with money for groceries, rent, and necessities, I don’t need to worry or nag about his progress in looking for a job (he would likely argue that I need to remind myself about the nagging part).  While I don’t like seeing him bummed about how the lack of spending money affects his social plans, I’d rather have him learn the lessons now when the stakes are lower.  Our kids are learning about attention to detail when dealing with bureaucratic nonsense, planning and time management skills when making mistakes on public transportation, a huge range of communication skills when dealing with language barriers or different cultural norms, self-care skills in meal planning and budgeting-to name just a few.  All of these things are frustrating, but none are inherently dangerous. By getting through these without having their parents handle or fix the situations for them, they gain patience, independence, self-reliance, resilience, adaptability, and perseverance. These are the skills that can’t be taught in the classroom and will greatly benefit them all through their lives!