Author: Rachel Silcox

Location: The Netherlands

I hope as you read my blog you will be connected with the places I see and people I meet. I hope that I can transport you to Holland and even further through these words. However, before I begin to show you the world I have started to discover here in Utrecht, I thought I would first tell you my motivation in coming to the Netherlands. Do I just really love bicycles and windmills and tulips? No. I decided to travel to Europe to discover more about the Liberal Arts and Sciences. Through my studies at Valpo and more specifically Christ College, I have learned about the humanities in a way I have never experienced before. By reading texts written by Aristotle, Kant, Bonhoeffer, and Augustine, I discovered a love for examining, questioning, and discussing that I had not experienced before. At Christ College, I was not taught formulas and facts, but instead I was taught to develop my desire to learn. So, when CC emailed me describing a new study abroad opportunity like Christ College itself, I had to participate.

I am a mechanical engineering major at VU, and so normally, I don’t have time to spend exploring and taking Liberal Arts and Sciences courses. Therefore, this was an ideal opportunity to  explore courses, subjects, myself, and Europe. Throughout this exploration, I hope to bring you along with me. So, welcome to the Netherlands!

First, some basics: we are at Universiteit College Utrecht or UCU, the international campus and university college (meaning liberal arts and sciences college) of the much larger and spread out Universiteit Utrecht. Our school is made up of about 800 students from places ranging from Utrecht itself to Zimbabwe. We have a little close knit campus, with green space to lay out and lovely European architecture. Campus even has a cute black cat who will let you pet her! However, the cat can scare you at night when you see the little ninja creeping around in the shadows. Besides that, campus is lovely! We live in Elmarelaan 21, the newest (and smallest) building on campus. Built in short and stocky mid-century modern style, it is in stark contrast to the rest of campus, and because of that people lovingly refer to it as “the Wall.” However, the Wall is great for one reason: indoor parking…for bikes. Yes, we have a tiny little parking garage for our bikes, where they won’t get rained on or stolen, the latter being a bigger fear. Bikes are the main source of transportation here and we all want to keep ours safe! However, since mine only cost 65 euros and is one of the hundreds of lottery bikes the Dutch government gave away 4 years ago, the motive to steal mine is very low. My bike is not the best, but it works and we can even go grocery shopping with the little basket I attached on the back!

Now that you know approximately how life in the Netherlands and UCU goes, I’ll more carefully introduce you to the academic side of UCU. Everyone takes four classes. I am in Mathematical Methods (Partial Differential Equations), World Philosophies, Introduction to Law, and Origins and Crises in the Global Economy. I am excited to take courses on math, economic history, law, and philosophy!

Last, since you know approximately where we are, what life is like, and what we are studying, I now want to introduce you to some of the amazing people from UCU. If there is one thing that makes this new country feel like home, it is the people. Amongst a new language and a different world, these people are caring, funny, and great friends. Some of the first people I met here were my UCU Introweek “Family.” We did everything together from a scavenger hunt around town to playing Ultimate Frisbee at together for the Sportsday of Introweek. Look at the pictures for shots of us having fun together!

Through this blog, I will be introducing you to some of my new family members and some of the other cool people I have met at UCU! I hope that by introducing you to them, I can make you feel at home here too. While they still may be strangers to you, I hope that you will grow to care for these strangers, and all people that are different from you. While many people may rush to judgement in these times, I hope to show you that any stranger can become family, and every stranger should be treated as such. In my next blog, I will introduce you to Marie-Christine! But till then, once again, welcome to the Netherlands!