Study Abroad: Outside her Comfort Zone in Amsterdam

Have you ever considered studying abroad? Many Scranton students study abroad every year. Students have the choice to study in Europe, Asia, Central and South America, Africa, Australia or New Zealand during a semester, an academic year, January session or summer session. The University also offers faculty-led courses. Learn more about The University of Scranton Study Abroad program here.

Molleur in Amsterdam, where she studied abroad for the semester.

Elise Molleur ‘20 studied abroad in Amsterdam, Netherlands, during the fall 2019 semester. Molleur went through CIEE, one of the major study abroad programs for American students, with the Social Sciences & Humanities Program. 

She took two classes with CIEE and three with the University of Amsterdam.

“The two classes I took with CIEE were Beginning Dutch (to learn the basics of the native language of the Netherlands) and Screen Cultures, a course on gender and sexuality in films. The three classes I took with UvA were 1) Perspectives on Amsterdam: a course that focused on urban issues and solutions in Amsterdam; 2) Complexity––can it be simplified?: a research-driven course about complex science in areas like the environment, and psychology and the models used to describe them; 3) Introduction to the Philosophy of Culture: a focus on the Western/European tradition of the philosophical positions on and conceptions of culture,” Molleur said.

Molleur coined the major difference between The University of Scranton and the University of Amsterdam (UvA) as the class sizes and environment.

“My average class at Scranton is 25 students, but I had classes at UvA that were up to 100 students. In Amsterdam, students would question the professor to challenge their statements, often leading to back-and-forth conversations or even arguments between the students and the professor. I would also bike 45 minutes or take a 30-minute metro to UvA, but in Scranton, I can leave my house 10 minutes before the start of class,” Molleur said.

Molleur’s favorite part of her semester abroad was her exposure to new cultures, people and surroundings. 

“UvA is a very large school and popular among international students, so I befriended people from Vietnam, England, Italy, Poland, Germany, Spain, Ukraine,

Molleur in Barcelona, Spain.

and much more,” Molleur said. 

She was able to easily travel to different places while she was abroad, as transportation is reliable and inexpensive in Europe.

“I was able to travel to 9 different countries and 12 different cities and experience their history, food, and culture (on a college student’s budget),” Molleur said. 

During her time in Europe, Molleur enjoyed how inviting and comfortable the experience was. She explained that everyone is always walking around or sitting outside, whether at cafés or parks, in Europe. 

A “typical Amsterdamn photo” Molleur took in Amsterdam.

Besides learning that she loves spending time in Europe, Molleur also learned how to be more independent and manage new situations. 

“It is difficult to take that step out of your comfort zone and immerse yourself in a place with a different language, foods and daily routines by yourself. A lot of students in my program knew each other before studying abroad, but I was the only University of Scranton student,” Molleur said.

Molleur found that it was not difficult to return back to her routine in America and schedule at Scranton. 

“Because of the differences between The University of Scranton and UvA, I found it easier to adjust back to my Scranton life,” Molleur said.

While abroad, she made strong relationships with people as well as found a love for the city of Amsterdam, both of which she misses.

Molleur exploring Brussels, Belgium.

If anyone is considering studying abroad, Molleur encourages you to do so, whether it is for a few weeks or a full semester.

“DO IT! It was the best chapter of my life so far, and I gained so many real-world skills while furthering my education and traveling the world. I was told that I could not study abroad because of my major and the programs I participate in at Scranton, but I didn’t let that stop me and neither should anyone else. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so take it,” Molleur said.

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