Brianna Condilenios, Simon Fraser University, winner of the spring 2020 BC Study Abroad Scholarship

Study Abroad Destination: the Netherlands

I arrived in Maastricht with three neatly packed black pieces of luggage and a folder holding my precious city maps, confirmations, and to-do lists. I meticulously prepared every thinkable element of this trip, from making a double copy of my birth certificate to handwriting the exact train transfers I needed to get from Paris to Maastricht. I have always found delicious comfort in planning. So for my first time in Europe, I wanted to ensure my safety and success through careful precision.

I cautiously wandered down cobblestone streets and ventured into curious-looking stores. I did not know where I would end up or what I would find. I allowed myself to get lost in the enchanting splendour of Maastricht. I said hello to people without knowing if they would want to share a friendship. I enjoyed the shy friendliness of meeting new people, not knowing how they would be. Slowly, I was learning how to let go of my strong desire for control. 

Then a global pandemic came roaring through the world like a tornado. Almost every student I met flocked home in a panic within the blink of an eye. I had just built up an understanding of how life works here, established relationships, found a rhythm, and silently everything just shattered right before my eyes. I was left in a foreign country with almost no contacts, and everything in the world was rapidly changing. This was not something I had scheduled in my planner.

With no clear idea of what the future would look like, I gradually loosened my diligent planning skills to a less structured approach to life. I let go. I went on bike rides without a destination in mind, just to see where I would end up. I went to the grocery store and bought food that was not on my list. I got tattoos without knowing exactly how they would feel. I ate dinner at midnight and changed my plans on a dime. I stopped trying to control every element of my life and accepted the beauty of the unknown.

I now welcome uncertainty with open arms. Although a little order and organization is comforting, I have learned to thrive in an environment where that simply is not promised. Along the way, I developed wonderful friendships and an astounding openness to life that I would not trade for the world.

Category: 
Student Blog

0 Comments

Leave a Comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Recent Blog Posts

Thank you to everyone who participated in our scholarship! We are pleased to announce the winners of the Fall 2021 Stories from Abroad: British Columbia Study Abroad Scholarship . Congratulations to: Adele Mark , University of Victoria Joshua Fang , Simon Fraser University Sophia Berezowski ,...Read more
Stephanie Wong, University of Victoria, winner of the Fall 2021 BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship Study Abroad Destination: Reykjavik, Iceland Stephanie is a fourth-year student from the University of Victoria, expecting to graduate with her Bachelor of Science in Microbiology in...Read more
Sophia Berezowski, Capilano University, winner of the Fall 2021 BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship Study Abroad Destination: Aarhus, Denmark Sophia is a third-year Motion Picture Arts student at Capilano University. Next spring semester Sophia plans on attending the New Screens...Read more