International Business Student Finds Rewards in Studying Abroad in The Netherlands

Written by Phuong “Emily” Nguyen, senior, specializations in business analytics & intelligence and information systems

Emily Nguyen in Netherlands2I know it is rare for an international student to study abroad but studying abroad was one of the most valuable decisions I have ever made. The idea came since I ran into one of my friends who just finished his semester abroad in Australia. After listening to his story, I decided to look deeper into the study abroad program at BGSU. With the support from the College of Business and the Hicks Travel scholarship, especially Dr. Tim Chambers and the international office, I decided to spend my spring semester at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands, as a business analytics major.  

As I began my study abroad journey, I was nervous. I thought I would not make any friends here because I didn’t know Dutch or the Dutch culture. Nevertheless, Amsterdam turned out to be a place where I built lifetime friendships with people from all over the world. My friends and I came from different backgrounds, different cultures, have different accents, but we were all going on adventures together. I started to learn a new language, to manage my time between school and traveling, to adapt to any environment, and to try the food that I thought I would never eat. By the end of my fifth month in Europe, I was able to speak some basic Dutch, made many new friends, visited 8 countries with more than 25 cities, and created unforgettable memories. I became a better version of me – happier and wiser.

Emily Nguyen and friends2NetherlandsThough the experience of the social life is fun, I did not forget that my goal of going abroad was to study. Vrije Universiteit is a top university of The Netherlands, so the expectations of the students are very high. Students are expected to read a decent amount of academic journals and industry articles to prepare for the lecture and exam as well as group projects within 6 weeks. With classes of 350 students, no teacher office hours, final exam weight 80% - 100% of final grade, and balancing time to travel, I thought it was a challenge. However, it was not that bad. Reading these papers kept me up to date about what is going on in the business world, and the digital teamwork with a real company case gave me a sense of working on a global team and understanding how business works in Europe. With these experiences and some help from the College of Business, I landed a summer internship with an international company in America while I was overseas.

Coming back to the U.S. for an internship was bittersweet because the whole Amsterdam experience was an INCREDIBLE dream for me. It opened my eyes to see what I have not seen in 21 years. It taught me to appreciate the culture, the people, and the most – the differences between everybody in every place. It helps me become more knowledgeable in my field of study with global eyes and a stronger belief in "life begins at the end of your comfort zone". Thus, you only live once; go and see all you possibly can. 

Updated: 08/27/2018 01:54PM