Name: Scarlet Montilla
Program: Short-term faculty-led program in the Netherlands
Major: Criminology & Criminal Justice
Term Abroad: Summer before junior year
Having always traveled to the Dominican Republic from a young age to visit my family, I wanted to branch out and learn about a culture different from my own. I also wanted to spend time in a new area without being dependent on my family. So, I began researching the available programs UMSL was providing. I found a faulty-led program to the Netherlands for Criminology and Criminal Justice majors. It was perfect for me! Although, visiting Netherlands wasn’t at the top of my list, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
While the travel time was long and tiring, the second I walked out of Schiphol airport in Amsterdam I felt the need to go explore. After settling in the hostel, my roommates and I decided to go to The Dam, which is a huge city square with many restaurants, attractions, and shops. It was so lively with the people, noise, and the view! Although, the traditional foods given at the hostels weren’t my favorite, I absolutely loved Dutch fries and to this day, I haven’t eaten anything similar. Exploring the different cities and towns in the Netherlands was incredible. My favorites were Delft to tour the medieval prison in a former city hall; The Hague attend a criminal trial at; the International Criminal Court; Kinderdijk to see the windmills and learn about its background; and the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. On our day trip to Belgium, I was able to meet up with an uncle that I hadn’t seen since I was very young. We went to many different types of neighborhoods and saw famous monuments.
The best part about the trip was getting the freedom to explore on own. My roommates and I went to the Holocaust Museum, a ziplining adventure course, the beach, and many shopping stores. Going shopping in local markets was in interesting experience. Some locals only spoke Dutch and I would have to use context clues to understand them. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to learn Dutch, I did learn how to say thank-you and how to read the maps at Tram stops.
Towards the end of the trip, I was excited to return home but I was sad to leave the country and signified a new chapter in my life. I realized that I grew up a little bit and became more independent. Studying abroad was culturally fulfilling and I hope others take the same opportunity and cherish it.