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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!

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Student Life: Taylor at HU University in Utrecht, Netherlands

Will the Creative Business Program Suit You as Great as it Suits Me?

              My name is Taylor Petersen, I am from Washington State and a first-year student at Hogeschool Utrecht University of Applied Sciences (HU). I am attending school here in Utrecht, Netherlands and today I am going to talk about my program, Creative Business. While looking into universities on my search to find the perfect school, the Creative Business program stood out because of the wide range of skills I would be learning in order to inch my way towards becoming the entrepreneurial woman I’ve always wanted to be.

As a Creative Business student, or as the students call it, ‘a CB student’, I have learned an enormous amount in my first year. Each half year is divided into two blocks. In the first block you have your first 3 classes, test on the  m, and then move on to the next 3 classes in the next block. I love this block system for many reasons, one being that I am able to focus better on fewer subjects before me and really delve into the topics without having my brain dragged in many different directions. Thus far in my first year, I have learned the proper marketing fundamentals, I have accumulated skills to cultivate my creativity, learned how to correctly interview and gather information from sources and more. This program has greatly benefitted me and my understanding of what it takes to be a part of a business. Each of my classes have been mostly online due to Covid-19, but the teachers have adapted well, and still manage to engage the students. At the beginning of the year, when my classes were still in person, we did many engaging activities and learned by doing. This is the goal of universities of applied sciences. By applying what you’ve learned you are able to truly understand it, and this is another aspect that was very enticing to me about goi ng to this university.

Throughout my program, there are many levels of personalization that go into your learning process. During the first year, classes are prechosen in order to set a basic level of knowledge for students, but as you enter you second, third and fourth years, you are able to choose things that will benefit your personal future. In the second year, there are 8 main classes that everyone must take, but the other 4 are electives that each student can chose based on their interests. During year 3, it is a totally global focus. Half the year is spent at an internship of your choice (you just have to approve it with the school), and the other half is spent at a school exchange

with the only requirement being that it must be in a non-native language environment. Year 4 is all about the final project and developing your own project of choice. This entire program has so many benefits that contribute to student success and personal development. I have loved my experience thus far.

For the social aspect of HU, there are student and teacher advisors that are there for student suppo rt, whether it be with schoolwork, social life, or just personal issues and advise. There are many opportunities that the school promotes for people to make friends and have a good time out of school as well. Because of this, I was able to make many of my friends.

Overall, the Creative Business program as well as Hogeschool Utrecht in general, is a great place to be. I love so many aspects about it and would recommend anyone who is st ill figuring out what they want to do or is very certain about the path they want and knows this program could help get them there.

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Czech Student Life: An American’s Perspective

Czech student life 1 This week we hear from Claire, who is here to talk about Czech student life at one of my favorite schools in Prague!  Get this! International student tuition for her program is just under $500 per year!  For more on why European universities are so much more affordable, check out the podcast episode I did with an American professor at this same university. – Jenn

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My name is Claire, and I am studying Environmental Engineering at Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, Czech Republic. I am currently in my second year having experience with both COVID and non COVID times.

Academic Schedule School days at public universities in the Czech Republic are generally Monday-Thursday with Fridays off or left for extra classes. I have only had Friday classes once, when taking the mandatory sports class during my first year. Classes take place between 8:45am and 6:00pm and are and hour and half long. Usually, each class meets twice a week, once for our lectures and once for our seminars. During my two years, I’ve had five to eight classes a semester, but usually a couple of the classes aren’t work/study intensive. My current schedule of classes (2nd year, 2nd semester) is:

Tuesday: classes from 8:45-5:15

Wednesday: classes from 8:45-10:15

Thursday: classes from 12:15-3:30

Usually one day a week has a full day of classes which is extremely exhausting, but because of the extended weekend days, on school days, I try to keep long study hours to a minimum and find that it is very helpful for my stress. Typically, after classes are done, I will work out, relax, and maybe get together with my friends depending when classes end. COVID has definitely affected my school schedule, as it has everyone, especially studying a STEM subject and having all lab activity closed. However, professors have tried their best to make the classes work as much as possible.

Social Schedule On easier days in our schedules my friends and I may go out for lunch or do something after classes but, we try to get together at least once a week outside of school to just hang out, go out to eat, or nights out. Prague is amazing and has a lot of parks and places around the river Czech student life that people can hang out and outdoor festivals/events so during warmer months a lot of time is spent outside. It’s pretty easy to find different types of foods although Asian (specifically Vietnamize), American, and Czech are most common cuisine, and we have never run into any issues with dietary restrictions because Prague is very vegan/vegetarian friendly. I live in an apartment with roommates which has led to an easier time during COVID lockdowns. One of my roommates and I cook dinner once a week and study together (even though we study different subjects), we started working out together, and just trying to get out of the house.

In terns of Czech student life, I have found that I tend to have more free time than my friends who go to university in the US because of how my school and exam schedule is made. Even though I have 5-8 subjects a week, I have three to four “free days”, so my life isn’t so cramped. Since exams grades are the final grades of classes, usually we don’t get much in the way of homework or test/quizzes which also helps with keeping free time. Compared to my friends in the US, the class difficulty is relatively the same, but can feel harder because I have to self-study more than they do. Overall I find that even with more classes, even at the same level as my US friends, I tend to have more time to study and socialize due to less weekly work.  — Claire

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Studying Overseas in Utrecht, Netherlands: Taylor’s Experience

“Why did I choose college in Europe? This is a question I get a lot, and often I am not sure how to respond other than simply, why not?” Read more on Taylor’s journey to studying overseas in the medieval city of Utrecht, Netherlands.  

I have grown up in a small town in Washington state, and was very excited with the idea of being able to experience living in a whole other atmosphere in a way I hadn’t before. I am eighteen years old and studying overseas in my first year in the Creative Business program at Hogeschool Utrecht University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. When looking for schools, I was interested in business school, but wanted to be sure that my desire for becoming an entrepreneur wasn’t lost. That is why I chose the Creative Business program, which heavily incorporates entrepreneurship and helps students along the way. In the program that I have chosen, each course topic has been interesting and informative. 

During the process of applying to schools in Europe, I was focusing on the program that best fit my interests as well as my desired atmosphere. I visited multiple schools around Europe and found that my best fit was here in Utrecht, Netherlands. Some of the other schools I had visited in this process offered good English programs, but when I visited, I wasn’t quite convinced that I would want to live there. I have learned a lot since living in the Netherlands, from budgeting, taking public transportation, time management, as well as becoming more culturally aware. My choice of studying overseas in Europe has been the best and biggest decision of my life. I have grown in many ways from living on my own and grown in confidence because I have also figured it out on my own. After first moving here, there were lots of things to check off the list, such as the visa requirements, residency numbers and more, but after a few phone calls it wasn’t so hard to figure out because people are so willing to help.  

As a student it has been very eye opening to be a part of such an international community. There are many different cultures in my program, and it has been so wonderful to be able to work with so many different types of people with many different backgrounds. With Covid-19 being a part of my first year, it hasn’t all been easy, but there are lots of programs and student organizations that have put in extra effort to make sure that students have the opportunity to make new friends. My main concern with moving across the world during a global pandemic was how I was going to make friends, but it has been easier than I thought to keep connected with other people from my school. I am so grateful for finding this program in this town.  

— Taylor

Thinking of college abroad for yourself? Ease in with our Self-Paced courses where you’ll be guided on how to choose a major, or a university in Europe, get your questions answered on the admissions process, and more. Prices for these chock-full courses range from $50-75, but members pay only $25. And speaking of membership, there is a special limited time offer on Annual Membership right now. Check it out!

 

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Travel Experiences as a Student in Europe

This week’s post is written by one of our student ambassadors. Sam (yes, that Sam…) is from North Carolina is a student at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

 

Travel opportunities played a significant role in my decision to go to college in Europe. My family made international travel a priority ever since I was about six years old. One of my favorite trips was visiting my uncle in Istanbul when I was 13. I was able to see what it’s like to actually live in another country, as opposed to the less authentic experience of a tourist. This trip made me realize that I wanted to, at some point, live outside of the US. I had a similar realization when I did a summer language program in Morocco. I lived with a Moroccan family and got to experience the local culture firsthand. When I learned that I could go to college in Europe, where I could live in another country AND easily travel to so many places, I knew it was what I wanted to do. 

I moved to the Netherlands in 2019  and the ease of travel compared to the US is unbelievable! I can travel to many places by train, which is so much more comfortable and easy than flying! When I do need to fly, it’s not hard to find cheap airline tickets, which has made it easy to take long weekend trips with friends. Before COVID, I went to Morocco with some friends and the ticket was only 80 euros round trip and the expenses of the trip were half of that! I’ve also been to Portugal many times to visit family, and I spent about a week in Prague. Over the summer, my friends and I spent a week hiking and camping a route on the Camino de Santiago, from Portugal to Spain. Further, the Netherlands is so small that I have been able to visit different cities in the country as well.

Obviously, COVID has put a stop to all of my other travel plans for the time being, but I have many more planned for when things are back to normal. If travel is open again, I will be taking a week long bike trip through Bavaria over spring break and plan to visit friends in Spain, France, and Germany over the summer. Of course, I will visit my family in Portugal and perhaps another hike will be planned as well! I will also be taking trips to visit schools as a student ambassador for Beyond the States. The bottom line is if you like to travel and experience the world for yourself, college in Europe is something you should explore.

 

 

 

 

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Student Ambassador Experience-Andrea in Utrecht

This week we hear from another one of our student ambassadors!  Andrea is from Andover Massachusetts and is in her first year of the liberal arts program at Utrecht University.
Read on to learn more about her experience.

My decision to attend college in Europe was made in my senior year of high school in Andover, Massachusetts, where I have lived almost all my life. Growing up in this suburbia, I was comfortable with the way things were and generally thought I would continue to live in the same area for my college years as well. However, after being exposed to BTS through a family friend, I began growing curious of what other opportunities could be out there for me.

I ended up applying to universities in the Netherlands and Czechia, and am currently in my second semester at University College Utrecht, one of the few liberal arts colleges in the Netherlands. This liberal arts curriculum allows me to explore my interests and combine them to create a unique degree. The courses are split up in three sections: Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities. There are no GenEd requirements, except that you must try out at least one class in each of the disciplines in your first year. The program is three years instead of the four years I would be taking in the US, but don’t let that fool you, it is shorter but the course load and curriculum is equally difficult if not harder than that at US schools. At the end of my second year, I have to choose a discipline to major in, within which I have to finish “tracks” or a series of courses in a certain subject to graduate. I am leaning towards taking an Interdisciplinary Major by combining the Social Sciences and Humanities.

My classes have been enriching and interesting, as I have been able to learn about historical events and methods of thinking through a completely different perspective. I have been able to recognize some of the biases or misconceptions I may have as a result of growing up in one area for so long. The classes are also relatively small at UCU, so a close connection with the professor is possible in case I ever need help or have specific questions.

The application process for UCU was similar to that of schools in the US, except that I needed to turn in my AP scores. This added a bit of stress to the process, but I also applied to other universities and university colleges in the Netherlands. The universities here have a set of requirements that if you meet, your acceptance is almost guaranteed, which definitely gave me an added sense of security as I was applying.

The decision to move across the Atlantic to pursue a higher education proved to be worth it. Not only will I graduate without student loans, but I also will receive a degree unique from many other of my peers in the US. The friends I have made here have also helped me grow, and learning about their experiences across the globe has greatly enriched my day-to-day life.