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Study Abroad - A View from Two Sides of the Pond

From Maastricht to Goizueta

When I was looking for potential exchange universities, Emory immediately popped up, as it offers distinct educational opportunities, paired with a location in metropolitan Atlanta, one of the most flourishing cities in the U.S. Before taking on the journey to Atlanta there were, however, a few questions still unanswered. Would it be easy to adapt to the American way of life? Would I be able to keep up with the university material, and still have room to travel and explore the country and its people? What would Atlanta be like? After the first few weeks, even after the first few days, I was very positive that I would not need to worry about any of these questions or concerns. The people were very accommodating and helpful, which made the process of settling in very easy, both inside and outside the university. I am more than happy with the selection of classes and the general environment in the business school, as it combines academic excellence with a very personal atmosphere. Once I had settled and more or less explored the campus and its surroundings, I decided to make plans for trips around the country for the coming weekends. Although travelling around the country is not as easy and cheap as in Europe, there are still numerous ways to make your way around. I have traveled with friends to Savannah, New Orleans, Athens,  New York, Chicago and Miami, which all offered very different and unique experiences. Although the task of arranging my trips around a busy class schedule, which might involve a few “all-nighters”, it is a challenge worth taking on. To sum it up, Emory has been a very unique and exciting experience, both academically and traveling wise. If there was one thing I would like to change about my time at Emory, it would be the length of the stay.

Cornelius Hafner, Maastricht University – Study Abroad at Goizueta, Fall 2010

From Goizueta to Maastricht

When I arrived in Maastricht, Netherlands, a picturesque medieval village welcomed me. I quickly learned that medieval beauty equals cobblestones and cobblestones can equal an unpleasant bike ride.

In the Netherlands, everyone rides a bike…always. I had not been on a bike since middle school! Night after night, I saw my foreign friends get into horrible bike accidents on their way home from bars. One girl from Brazil lost all of her front teeth and had to get veneers. Another night, a boy from France got a concussion.

Nevertheless, one sobering, cold Monday morning, I got onto my rickety pink bike to ride to the grocery store. I was riding along on the left side of the street in a wide and empty lane. It was a straight shot down the road to the store, free of cobblestones. The cold, Dutch wind blew through my hair and I looked up for one fleeting moment to see a huge mass transit bus about three feet from my face, honking frantically. I quickly turned my bike to the left to go up on the curb and my bike spun out of control. The bike went flying about 15 feet behind me and I flew about 10 feet forward, falling flat on my face. Two adorable Dutch grandmothers were walking along and saw the horrible accident. They came running up to me to ask how I was and through the blood and tears in my eyes, out of politeness, I said, “I think I’m okay, thanks.” In this situation in America, a little old lady would call an ambulance. Yet I knew I was in the Netherlands when the little women shook their heads and said, “good girl” and walked away. It was this cut and dry directness that I experienced for the first time from the Dutch. When I was in class and I said something that was wrong, the teacher would harshly say, “that is incorrect” instead of the wishy-washy “well, that sounds like an idea I never considered” that you get from American professors. Once I ordered a particular sandwich and the woman behind the counter told me that it sounded “disgusting” and she refused to make it for me.

The first few weeks, I pushed as hard as I could against this staunch cultural difference, but as time went on, I slowly embraced it. I learned that a simple gesture or smile meant volumes more than my rambling American sentences. I learned that no matter how hard I argue, plead or bargain a person still has the fundamental right not change their mind, even if they are wrong. It was the American entitlement within me that lead me to believe that sometimes the wide, smooth and straight shot way to your designation may be a perilous bus lane. Sometimes it is necessary to follow the narrow cobblestone bike path to get to your destination alive.

Allison Dwyer, BBA ’11, Study Abroad at Maastricht University, Fall 2009

Please check the Goizueta Study Abroad page for more information on international opportunities.