Today marks my final day in Amsterdam participating in the Erasmus+ Programme at Universiteit Van Amsterdam. I am extremely sad to be leaving such an amazing city and I am so grateful for the amount opportunities I have had whilst on my study abroad.
Having grown up in a multicultural household (Spanish mum and a South African-Indian dad), taking part on the exchange programme wasn’t a massive cultural adjustment for me personally, but I can still say that the Erasmus+ programme has made me more open and tolerant towards other cultures.
Studying Geography, the study of places and the relationships between people and their environment, it only made sense to take part in a study abroad programme, where adjusting to different learning techniques has helped me develop cross-cultural understanding and stronger adaptability skills.
Taking part in the programme has made me feel like a true European citizen, and I hope that Brexit will not affect future UK students from taking part in the Erasmus+ programme. Studying abroad helps foster diversity and openness and could be an antidote to hate and discrimination in times of rising tensions over race and heritage around the world.
When Covid-19 forced us into lockdown in March I, like many other students, packed my bags in a rush to get home before the borders closed. After an extremely long summer (which basically began in March) I tried my best to get back to Amsterdam, not only to collect the belongings I had left but also enjoy what was left of my time abroad now that online studying had finished. With my accommodation contract being terminated early in April I stayed in an Airbnb with some friends whilst I searched for a way to stay and live in Amsterdam for a few more months. If I wanted to stay I could either find a job and a spare room, or become a live-in au pair. I chose to become an au pair despite having no experience with kids. I found this job by browsing through Facebook groups and I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t want to spend money on accommodation!
Being an au pair in Amsterdam meant I could really get to know Dutch culture and language through living with a family. I was fortunate that my host family were Dutch-Chinese, so I benefitted from learning how to cook unique dishes, such as the lengthy process of making dumplings (here we made 250 and it took us 6 hours).
I am forever grateful to the Erasmus+ Exchange Programme for funding my time abroad. I would not have been able to spend 12 months abroad if it was not for the generous grant provided. Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout the year, helping to make it such an invaluable experience.
Tot ziens Amsterdam! I’ll be back ;). For now, I am now looking forward to returning to the University of Manchester to complete my degree in Human Geography.