So, here I am, a normal Dutch girl: coming from a country where the prevailing attitude is no-nonsense, middle-of-the-road and straightforward, going to a country where, if I rely on my expectations, people are over-the-top, use superlatives and scream OMG every opportunity they get. Of course, my expectations are inaccurate, having never been to the United States. Nevertheless, not even in my wildest dreams did I expect to go to The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.! To top all that, I get the opportunity to be there during the 2012 presidential elections and find out all about the political system on the ground first hand, as well as experience the American way of democracy for myself.
Before introducing to you my intentions for the coming five months, a proper introduction is appropriate. My name is Liza. I am twenty years old and studying international relations and international law at my home institution, the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. An inherently international university, my experiences there convinced me of the necessity to encounter different cultures, in order to create more understanding and sympathy through shared experiences. I thoroughly enjoy listening to music, meeting up with friends, reading, and getting obsessed with sometimes slightly random things, but mostly with political developments, both nationally (Dutch) and internationally.
Over the past few months I have been preparing for my semester abroad. I learned the hard way in my preparation, because I never expected having to provide such massive amounts of documentation and material. This might have been naive of me, but preparing for a semester in the United States takes a lot of patience, money, and energy. What kept me going was the thought that in the end, I can reap the fruits from the experience (that is what partners in (mis)fortune kept telling me). Besides, I have found that I enjoy this – preparing is a lot more fun when you know what to look forward to. Not knowing what exactly to expect, I do intend to completely immerse myself in American culture, and as a student of international affairs, GW might just be the most perfect spot I could have imagined to study. Over the next few months, I will update you on my experiences in the United States. I plan to compare the United States and The Netherlands and reflect on both cultures, not to judge and over-emphasize differences, but most of all, to find similarities between the two. I can already assure you that my experiences are very likely to be amazing and insightful, so follow me and enjoy the ride!