Wsup everyone! Hope your day is well. I finally got around to creating this damn blog after being lazy for the last three weeks. I’ve always thought blogging to be an excellent way of documenting my thoughts and sharing my experiences with everyone. My intent is to spread some of the lessons I’ve learned here to everyone. Enjoy 🙂
I like to describe Rotterdam as a “city-sized version of an IKEA” store, but more beautiful. The city had been re-constructed after 1960 and is one of the largest trade ports in the world. The architecture is magnificent with many buildings “leaning to the side” while mini-canals sit around the quiet suburbian homes. Compared to Amsterdam, where Holland’s historical culture is fully abundant within the city, Rotterdam has more of a modern look. The city center of Rotterdam is a mixture of commercialized stores and local eateries with everything being biking distance away. Biking is huge in Holland since the country is flat. Compared to California, the weather here is significantly colder with rain coming every other day.
One of the most introspective moments I’ve had so far had been when I sat around a friends apartment and looked up to see 20 people in the room just chatting. Every person was from a different part of the world with different beliefs, culture, lifestyle and yet we were all in that one apartment together. There were people from Argentina, Brazil, Spain, France, Canada, Equador, Finland etc. I had barely gotten to know any of these people but we all shared that thirst for adventure that every exchange student craves. Everybody wanted to make friends and nobody knew each other three days earlier. It was like freshman year all over again.
Talking to these students is another communications class altogether. Every person had their own type of slang, humor and methods of communicating which is one of the fun challenges you encounter when abroad. I’m really forced to be open-minded about things, especially when dealing with different cultures. Students from South America or France may pronounce their English differently from Americans which makes it difficult to understand their phrasing and pronunciation. Since English is a second language to many, the difference in language correlates with a difference in lifestyle, beliefs and thought formations. It’s similar to how some languages have words that cannot be translated into English, but there is a meaning behind it. I imagine how difficult it may be for these students to speak in English when we’re all drunk too. Languages really do alter perception.
In order to adapt to these differences, I’ve learned that it’s important to genuinely listen, and be curious about what the other person is saying. Always ask “why?” or “how?” Being able to find that deeper meaning behind a conversation really forms a deeper connection of friendship. Too often, people are thinking of the next thing to say during conversations which takes meaning away from what the other person is saying. Being abroad, I can’t do this or else I won’t be able to maintain a fluid conversation with anyone.
A bit long, but thanks for reading! 🙂 More to come soon. Any feedback would be great!