Fearless

Today, I walked up from Avant Garde to Hogeschool Zuyd, which, if you’ve read before in these posts, is no small feat. The walk takes nearly an hour by foot, which comes out to be a few miles/several kilometers, which typically leaves my feet sore for about an hour (thankfully I recover quickly). Yes, I will eventually get a bike, but that hasn’t been in my cards lately. So far, going by way of foot is serving me just fine.

On the academic side of things, I am fully registered for my classes at Zuyd and begin said classes on the 17th September! Next week I should be seeing the arrival of my full class schedule, so patience is my new game to play.

With that errand accomplished, I decided that I would zig-zag my way through Maastricht back to Avant Garde, by taking streets that I have yet laid my eyes upon. You know, prior to coming out to the Netherlands, situations such as this (mindlessly wondering the streets) were not something that I would be akin to doing. Even the thought of doing a semester of study abroad never fully crossed my mind; it’s much too scary to be living in an environment that I am not familiar with. Granted, that’s an element of human nature that’s in us all – everyone feels that sense of unease when we feel displaced from the habitat that we have longed call “home.” What it takes to see the fuller picture of the world, and that of humanity, is learning to fight fear by becoming fearless and taking the plunge.

Never did I once feel fear when I departed Kansas City, nor did I feel fear when I was far from home in London; on the long train ride to Maastricht, fear never raised its head, nor was it ever there through my first night woes ‘homeless’ in Maastricht. Like a skydiver about to make their first dive, I quelled that fear, banished it, and now it’s no more. I honestly can feel that I can walk to Germany, fly to Scotland, or take a train into France and not once feel uneasy at all.

And besides, fear of exploring could have kept me from getting this amazing photo of Maastricht:

Maastricht

When you explore, beautiful things happen. This was one for me.

To Study Abroad…

I'm here!

Maastricht, all the way at the bottom of the Netherlands

Studying abroad was not something that I had intended to do during my college career at Northwest Missouri State University. I had chewed over the thought of possibly going somewhere, at some time, but those thoughts never amounted to much. “I’ll travel someday,” I told myself.

Things began changing, however, in early 2012 when a chance moment of correcting German pronunciation with a professor led me on the path that I am currently on. “No, it’s not ‘Kreeks-bergs, it’s pronounced ‘Crikes-bergs,’ with a long ‘eye’ sound,” I was telling to Jacquie Lamer during the annual Off-Broadway Tour into Kansas City on Groundhog Day 2012. I was assigned to lead a group of my fellow peers through a couple of the agencies in the downtown KC area, one of which included Meers, where my group would be meeting with an (awesome) gentleman by the name of John Kreicsbergs. Upon learning of the dude’s last name, I immediately recognized it as Germanic in pronunciation, thanks to two years of learning German back in the far-off age called “high school.” Similar to my own last name of ‘Meier,’ when there is an ‘ei’ in the middle of a word, the ‘I’ sound is pronounced. The reversal happens with ‘ie,’ wherein the ‘e’ is then pronounced.

“Why haven’t you studied abroad?” Jacquie asked me directly after I gave a lesson concerning German pronunciation. I sat there for a moment, wondering what I should say. “Because I would get homesick really bad,” I believe that was my (lame) response. She nagged at me a little bit more as we continued to journey into Kansas City, though I shrugged off the suggestions for the duration of the day. But therein a seed had been planted.

As the day progressed during the Off-Broadway Tour, I continued to ponder the thought of possibly studying abroad. “Where would I go? How hard would it be? Would there be hamburgers there?” Those were but a few of the thoughts that were swirling through my mind during the tour. A few days passed before I finally found the initiative to find out more concerning studying abroad. A quick email questionnaire to the study abroad office at Northwest brought back answers that I sought, most importantly where I should go. Part of the questionnaire included asking what countries I was interested in, which I believe I gave the United Kingdom and Germany as my choices (Europe has been on my bucket list of places to visit). Of the few choices given, one school did strike my chord: Zuyd Hogeschool.

Zuyd Hogeschool, located in Maastricht, Netherlands, first popped up on my radar during the Fall 2011 semester at Northwest. An exchange student by the name of Tim, who hailed from Zuyd Hogeschool, was then studying at Northwest and shared Web Publishing with me. He gave a song and dance speech about his university and the city he came from, which I found to be quite interesting. During that time, I also learned that Jacquie, as well as my advisor Jody Strauch, had both done a short teaching gig at the school; these connections only furthered my interest in Zuyd Hogeschool.

And Zuyd’s offering of courses catered perfectly to my major, Interactive Digital Media: New Media. While here in Maastricht, I’ll be taking four fairly intensive courses, which should only help sharpen my skills and grow my knowledge.

As of this writing, there are still a couple of weeks to go before starting up classes. More to come regarding those matters!