My name is Steph and over our summer break I completed a unit on Positive Psychology at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. And now I’m back. I will never be able to fully articulate the full experience that I had while overseas, it was just too good for words. The people that I met and became friends with, the places that I got to see, which were full of so much culture and history. And it still feels a little bit odd to be back in Australia. There’s just something so thrilling about studying overseas, or maybe its just knowing that you’re in a completely different country where you don’t speak any of the language! And even though the majority of them speak English fluently, it was always amusing to be asked something in Dutch and to have to awkwardly say you only speak English.
The list of things that I miss from my time in Maastricht is too long to completely go through but above all I miss the people I was with. Due to the course I was doing, I had the opportunity to become friends with people I would never have met otherwise with many of them from different states and cities across Australia. And the people you’re with make all the difference. It’s a weird feeling to not see the people you were with for basically 24/7 for 3 weeks, and to have to make time to actually see each other! I miss the days when if I needed an extra plate or ingredient, all I had to do was walk across the hall.
And I miss getting to bike ride everywhere. That was one of my favourite things about the trip. Nothing like a nice cold, sometimes rainy, 30-minute bike ride to uni in the morning, although the frozen and numb fingers is something that I definitely don’t miss. And having to bike ride home with the grocery bags awkwardly slung over the handlebars (and sometimes almost crashing because of them) is something I won’t be forgetting for a very long time. But there is always a plus side, it helped me not to gain too much weight from all the pastries that we had for breakfast! If there’s one thing Europeans know how to do, it’s how to make the best pastries and desserts.
There are so many other things that I could talk about but I don’t feel like I would be doing my trip justice. The feeling of awe when you step into a building, whether it’s a town hall or a cathedral, which was built before Australia was even founded, is truly indescribable. Seeing some of the most famous artworks in the world and getting to appreciate their beauty. Sitting in a café in Paris just sipping a coffee while listening to the locals talk. Doing a half-walk half-jog through train stations to get to make sure you get to your train on time. Getting to wander the streets and little alleyways of some of the most famous cities in the world with no particular destination in mind. Fast internet connection. There are a couple hundred more things I could name that I miss about Europe. And there is no doubt in my mind that one day I’ll go back there, hopefully to live. Getting back after a month of travel can leave you feeling a little bit lost without that sense of adventure. But for the moment, it’s nice to be home all the same. There’s nothing like having a shower that works, and a bed that you like.