Netherlands Study Abroad Story: Katie Nimtz

Honors student, Katie Nimtz, recently studied abroad in Utrecht, Netherlands with the help of the honors funded travel scholarship. Below is a little about her experience as well as her favorite pictures from the trip. Thank you, Katie, for sharing!

“Over the course of the Fall 2017 semester I had the terrific opportunity to study abroad in Utrecht, Netherlands. This trip brought more into my life than I ever thought possible. I was pushed to my limits and lived outside my comfort zone on a daily basis. I learned about the Dutch culture along with a variety of norms and beliefs from the students I lived with from across the globe. From riding my bike ‘Berta’ from the student complex to class everyday to navigating public transport to visit cities across the Netherlands, I experiences life in a whole new way.

From the first months of planning I forged my way to make this trip a reality, despite the many roadblocks that came along. Through the adversity I learned that no dream is too big and that if I want something it will take patience, organization, and grit to get it. The path to get to the Netherlands was the beginning of personal growth that continued to blossom over the fall semester. Being from a family that never had much in the small town of Eau Claire that was centered around the agro-tourism industry, I though that studying in a different country was just a dream I had. My personal goal was to study abroad since I took a Spanish class in high school. After almost five years of debating if  I should do it, I decided to take the risk and jump head first into the experience. Utrecht was the perfect place to study, the ICM (International Communications and Media) course at HU University was a great addition to my program and everyone who attended had to speak English. Check, and check. Upon arrival I couldn’t believe I had accomplished the great jump across the ocean.

Living in a different country was intriguing from the moment I stepped off the plane. Over the course of 20 weeks I had learned to become self reliant and made friends that expanded my views of the world. I found myself in conversations about topics that reached so much further than the borders of the country that I grew up in. I sat across from Spanish women talking about what was happening in Catalonia, talked to a British man about his opinion on his country leaving the EU, and the struggles of an Eastern European woman who rose above tribulation to attend college and forge a path for other young people back home. I had down to earth conversations with Australians and Canadians on similarities of our cultures and what television shows we watched growing up. I learned about traditions from Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Belgium. I’ll never forget the feeling I got when all my flatmates – all 11 of us – were sitting around the table for a ‘family’ meal and we turned on some music and everyone sang along word-for-word. There was a certain magic of how music could bring people from different backgrounds, languages and cultures together.

As I assimilate myself back to the American culture, I will use what I learned during the Fall 2017 semester to continue to grow into the person I aim to be. I could explain more about my experiences of traveling to places in history I had merely read about in books. The Westerbork Trasit Camp, the Anne Frank House, Manneken Pis, the Louvre, Waterloo, the Eiffel Tower, and even the beautiful canals that lined the streets of my city, Utrecht – but that’s for another time. These moments, now fresh in my mind will be treasured for a lifetime. There is no short way to sum up the experience, my life has been altered forever and I couldn’t be happier for the experience.”