It has been over a year since I was living and studying in Amsterdam, and though I’m no longer living in Europe, I find myself constantly using the skills that I learned and am more comfortable with overcoming challenges on a regular basis. Studying abroad was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made—not just because of the travel, but because of what I learned and who I met in the process.
So what did I learn from studying abroad that is transferrable to my life in the US today? To list a few, I gained skills in…
- Establishing rapport quickly and building self-reliance
- Adaptability, flexibility, and patience in an unfamiliar environment
- Embracing cultural differences
- Achieving goals despite obstacles and gaining appreciation of diversity
- Ability to function with a high level of ambiguity
- Problem solving skills
- Independence and enthusiasm
- Ability to learn quickly, gaining inquisitiveness
- Strong listening, communication, and organization skills across language and cultural barriers to navigate through new cities
- Language and cultural interactivity skills through observation
- Assertiveness by communicating despite barriers
- Time management skills
- Management of finances in varying currencies
- Managing stress and building self-knowledge
- Comfort in working on a team with people from different cultures and educational backgrounds
- Self-confidence by handling difficult situations
- Tolerance/open-mindedness by accepting responsibility
- Awareness of global issues
- Perseverance by taking initiative and taking calculated risks
These are all excellent skills to have, and in order to keep practicing these skills I must continue to put myself in study abroad-like situations. Since my return, I have remained connected with those I met abroad both in person and online. I was even able to test my hospitality skills when a couple of them came to visit me in Burlington. Aside from cultural experiences, I can use my skills of adaptability, flexibility, and problem solving to navigate a new city or job when I graduate.
My study abroad experience was invaluable and I plan to mirror this experience in the future in every situation I’m faced with.