UMD: A Globally Connected University

Caitlin McPartland

Caitlin McPartland

Program: CIEE Open Campus Program
Term: Spring 2020
Major: Environmental Science & Policy  

I am able to experience and see how others live and view the world. I appreciate the opportunity to learn their culture and customs and to be exposed to new surroundings and ways of life. One of the biggest challenges that has helped me grow so far, is how to adapt to unfamiliar situations and to learn to be comfortable in stressful and unknown situations. I have met so many people with all very different backgrounds in life, yet we are all here to learn and explore, and it has helped me view these experiences in many different ways.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad:  Go in with very few expectations, because no matter how much you plan, there will always be surprises and different outcomes. I think the best part of this experience is just saying yes to as many things as you can and trying to absorb so many different cultures and backgrounds, and to learn about these countries and yourself. By having a more open mindset, I believe it is easier to go with what is offered and appreciate what you see, and not be stuck on your expectations.​

My first weekend in London, me and 3 other friends that I had met just a few days earlier found tickets to Amsterdam for a cheap price. We bought the plane tickets less than 16 hours before take off, with people we did not know a week ago, to go to a country we had never been. It was a whirlwind trip, we did not know a single word of Dutch to speak there, had no idea what our plans were, and we were still getting to know each other. The trip itself was an experience I will never forget. We found tickets to a lookout tower and climbed to the top while a storm was passing through and got a little lost in the city and had to find our way back. We definitely made an effort to see as much as we could of the city in our short weekend trip. This trip was one of the most spontaneous things any of us had ever done, but was also one of the most memorable trips I have had. Having to rely on others and take the trip for what it is helped us appreciate the people in Amsterdam and depend on each other even more.

My hardest challenge so far is the adjustment of always feeling slightly unfamiliar. [This is] because I am surrounded by people I have never met or I am going to countries I know little about, or even just taking classes that are new to me. I have learned to accept being uncomfortable, and that is part of the experience. It is definitetly helping me grow and I am getting used to and starting to enjoy living in new ways.