by Matthew Hicks (reposted from http://www.matthewmatthew.com/blog)
How can I reflect on a 5-week experience traveling all around the Netherlands, going to London, and a 9-year reunion with my host family and friends in Germany? No matter what I do – writing blog entries, taking pictures, recording video, it’s ridiculous to think I can even try to reflect on all that went on by doing any of these things. Even if I chose one or a combination of these ways to explain my experiences, I am still missing something.
Do i focus on one of the times my mouth dropped open from one of the amazing presentations we saw from the Erasmus Studio? Do I focus on Dutch architecture, editing the photos in a way that make you see the curves and colors look like what I saw? Do I focus on the museums and the interesting performance art I was lucky to see in the Van Gogh Museum? Do I tell you about the time I was in a nightclub in Utrecht and had an intense conversation with someone regarding race in the U.S. and how the issue differs in the Netherlands? Or the time I woke up after getting 3 hours of sleep and my friend made chicken paste sandwiches for breakfast and we ate on his roof-top terrace in central Amsterdam? I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know because almost every experience matters.
No matter what I try to do, I can’t justly reflect on this experience. It’s almost as if a whole world opened up for me while there, and how does one go about explaining another world?
If you study abroad my only recommendations are these: Go there and make friends with locals and talk about complicated matters (and not just the weather), ask them where they grew up and then Google Street View their address, ride saddle on the back of their bike and smile when your foot accidentally nudges a car bumper.
Most of all, go to a cafe, put on your headphones but don’t turn the music on yet, look around casually and ABSORB your surroundings.