What does it mean to be a student living exactly 11,329 kilometers away from home? For Chris, it means a whole lot of exploring – both in the academic and experiential sense. Originally from Jakarta, Indonesia, this newly graduated Masters student, has been exploring a few of Europe’s finest non-mainstream destinations. I had the privilege of listening to his recently acquired travelling wisdom, and he was generous enough to let me convey his own experiences to all those who were once in his position – a student of Amsterdam.
Christiaan R, Rudolph, Masters graduate from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
This 25-year-old graduate now proudly proclaims his MSc Business Administration-Human Resource Management title. To bring an end to his hectic and dreadful deadline days, he concluded the academic year with a three-legged Eurotrip with the company of his closest friends. After finally finishing his academic career last July, Chris didn’t travel back to Indonesia, but stayed in the Netherlands to pursue the chance of visiting neighboring countries in Europe. His three-legged trips took the course of nearly a month, and from each trip he learned valuable life lessons that you won’t find in your typical classroom.
The Three-Legged Eurotrips
Chris started his journey to Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in the first week. He couldn’t pass out on the chance to travel around these three gorgeous countries when an invite from his fellow Master graduates was handed to him. Essentially, he coined the trip as having a particular theme which revolved around ‘a journey to the Baltics’ with the exception of Poland.
Describing the places he visited as ‘picturesque cities’, the five of them enjoyed the “surprisingly beautiful sites” which exceeded any expectations Chris previously had in mind. For him, it were those kinds of revelations that he enjoyed experiencing, “You shouldn’t expect anything when you travel, let the city surprise you.” They mostly wandered around the capital cities of these countries, and it was in Auschwitz where European history really got to him.
When asked what his other motivation was to go on this trip, Chris’ reply was simple: “While you have the opportunity to live so closely to neighboring countries – and without the complication of needing to book a tourist VISA or such – you should go for it.” It’s not a matter of making the most from living so far away from home; rather it’s about making the most of the advantages that you can proliferate from while you’re in a completely foreign country. Thank God for the Schengen agreement.
Travelling isn’t only about leisure, but also about the intricacies of life including its people, culture and history
After returning from his first leg of the trip, Chris realized that travelling is much more than taking photographs of sceneries and shopping, it’s also about learning. Learning not just about the countries he visited, but also about the course of life. “Travelling isn’t only about leisure, but also about the intricacies of life including its people, cultures and history.”
The second leg of the trip revolved around Scotland, mainly Glasgow, Edinburgh, and the Highlands. This time he travelled with his friend from Indonesia who currently resides in Scotland to immerse the nature more than the culture. That’s when he then mentioned another travelling wisdom, “Different friends, different travel situation.” Each traveller must learn to compromise in order to make the most out of the trip; this, he believes, will ensure happiness and positivity during the trip.
During his last rendezvous, Chris and his friend from the second leg visited Belgium, Slovenia and Italy. This was another one of his nature-centric trips as it was also because his friend enjoyed photographing natural landscapes than going around museum trips. Chris then shared another one of his wisdoms, “You need to find a travel companion that really suits your interests and overall travel agenda.” He stressed how it’s important to find someone who shares your travel perspective. In the event that no compromise can be established between travel members, adaptation is always the best way to go.
Travelling is key
What I learned most from our conversation was generally how large the world truly is. You can find wisdom in every corner. You encounter new knowledge about living when you’re out there in the world. Sure, academics is important, but it’s really the value you find from the opportunities and experiences being laid out to you that should get you out from your reverie of responsibilities, pressure for success and the what-ifs of the future.
In this case, geographical proximity is an opportunity that both Chris and I perceive important as international students residing in the Netherlands. I need to start visiting neighboring countries if I truly want to fully benefit from studying here in Amsterdam.
Cover: Linh Dinh / Final editing: Tamar Hellinga