Imagine getting on a plane and traveling half way across the world. Stepping off the jet for the first time you realize you are not only in a new country, you are on a completely different continent. Buildings look different and sounds have a harmony you have not yet heard echoing in your head before. New friends and opportunities are waiting for you to immerse yourself in a culture not your own.
UFV Psychology student Oana Salcescu shares her adventure that started by joining the Study Abroad program. After making all the necessary arrangements she was able to attend the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands for a ten-month period. This four hundred year old Dutch country not only introduced the world to the microscope, telescope, Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, and the mercury thermometer, but it is also a gateway to the rest of Europe.
Oana was born in Bucharest, Romania but she was raised in Canada since the age of three. She is fluent in Romanian, English, and proficient in Italian. This list of languages is impressive, but not necessary in the Netherlands as English is recognized at their unofficial language.
Travel opportunities and sharing values of other cultures was the main reason Oana joined the Study Abroad program. She felt very strong about having the opportunity to travel across the world, study different styles of teaching, and immerse in other cultures.
This Dutch are not known for their unique food, but there was a tasty dish that Oana enjoyed called Pofferjes. It is much like the North American version of mini-pancakes, but made from a traditional Dutch batter.
One of Oana’s favorite things to do was ride her bike all over the countryside. She took advantage of their amazing bicycle infrastructure and took many day trips to other towns. Traveling from town to town is relatively easy and not very time consuming, as Netherlands is only about
1/23rd the size of British Columbia. In a matter of a couple of weekends Oana was able to travel to from Rotterdam to most of the countries biggest cities; which included, Delft, Den Haag, and Kinderdijk. She even found that taking trains to further destinations was just as easy. Oana managed to find time to travel via railway to Utrecht, Maastricht, and even as far as Antwerp, Belgium.
Canadians tend to have a universal reputation of good manners and proper etiquette. This followed Oana to the Netherlands, where she deepened this reputation with her open-mind and friendly demeanor.
One of her goals of going on the exchange program was not only to learn another way of life, but also to share her own experiences and insights. “As you talk to and meet more people, you gain a better sense of what this new culture is really about”, says Oana. This attitude illustrates how Oana was able to successfully immerse herself into her temporary home.
Erasmus University offers unique and interesting classes, such as the Philosophy of Science, but also has introductory programs to help international students acclimate to their new surroundings. These programs really helped Oana build cross-cultural bridges with her peers and create long lasting friendships. Oana says the keys to making friends are, have an open-mind, be friendly, be adaptive, and never be judgmental.
Learn more about the UFV Study Abroad partners here.
This post was written by UFV student Scott Lukasek as part of a communication practicum. It details the experience of returning UFV student Oana Salcescu in the Study Abroad program