“Travel Far Enough and You’ll Meet Yourself.” This is what Julia Schneider remembered as she studied abroad at Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands to complete her Master’s of Economics.
Julia wasn’t new to the world of studying abroad. While attending high school, she did a two-week exchange to Dusseldorf, Germany. She loved it so much that she decided to do a year-long exchange, followed by a Bachelor’s Degree in European Studies in Maastricht, Netherlands. “When I left Waterloo, Ontario for Germany I never thought I would still be living in Europe six years later. Now, I am studying a Master’s in Economics at Radboud University. I loved living abroad so much, I just couldn’t leave!” Through travelling the world, Julia was able to find herself by learning about herself and the world around her.
What Julia Learned About Herself
When Julia started travelling, she didn’t have any expectations. “I think having no expectations made it a much better experience.” Studying abroad helped Julia learn new things about herself. She learned that she was capable of being independent and how to solve her own problems – something that she didn’t think was possible. “I feel that going abroad has made me a much better version of myself.”
“When you’re abroad, you don’t always have family and friends constantly around to help you out. Being abroad helped me learn how to rely on myself, and that there is a solution to every problem.”
Studying abroad has helped Julia to improve her communication skills and she also gained a deeper intercultural understanding – something that companies really value. “It looks great on my CV, and I always get asked about my travels in interviews!”
Networking is extremely valuable regardless of where you are in the world and Julia was able to build a professional international network by connecting with her professors while she was abroad. Since her lectures in the Netherlands were in small classes and discussion based (much different than her studying experience in Canada), she was always encouraged to ask questions. One teacher even gave bonus points if students disagreed and debated with him. All of this boosted Julia’s communication and networking skills that she gained while studying abroad – and not to mention confidence!
During her studies, Julia realized she wanted to pursue an international career that would make her step outside of her comfort zone. Armed with her Master’s in Economics and experience gained while studying abroad, she is currently searching for a job in the Netherlands and would like to stay there after her studies.
What Julia Learned about the World
Julia’s study abroad experiences not only allowed her to learn more about herself, but it also created an opportunity to connect with people in the Netherlands and all over the world. During her studies, Julia stayed in student housing with other international students along with Dutch students. Living with 15 other students in a shared spaced was definitely messy at times, but the friendships Julia created made up for it. She found her Dutch classmates and peers to be very welcoming, they were eager to share their culture but also learn about Canada! Her new connections resulted in many new friendships that extended beyond borders.
“The best part about having friends in different parts of the world is that you always have a reason to go somewhere or someone to meet up with.”
Julia spends her weekends visiting friends across The Netherlands, a great way to see different parts of the country, and in different countries. These connections have also allowed Julia to travel all around Europe in a truly authentic way. For example when travelling to Italy, Julia stayed with an Italian friend who served her grandmother’s authentic Italian food.
Completing her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Netherlands allowed Julia to build her career while exploring the world. Studying abroad helped Julia learn so much about herself and gain a different perspective.
“You grow as a person in ways that you never even knew were possible, and that is something that you can’t gain in other ways.”
After spending six years growing through studying abroad, Julia is excited to continue her international journey of self-discovery.
Here are Julia’s three tips for students who are considering studying abroad:
- Don’t go in with any expectations.
- Money will always come back, but experiences won’t.
- Just do it!