Europe Opened My Mind

By Michelle Paltin — GCU Accounting Major

This summer I was privileged enough to travel to some amazing places in Europe, and along the way I have learned so much and have met so many amazing people. From May 26th to June 9th, I visited several countries with some very amazing people that I still keep in touch with. Those two weeks have been some of the best yet exhausting days of my life. While this was a fun experience, it greatly expanded on my knowledge of other cultures, it helped me become a more social person and also made me realize that one has to be open minded in order to appreciate different cultures.

Over the course of these two weeks I visited the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France and the United Kingdom. As an accounting student, I was very intrigued by the different currencies in these countries since sometimes we are stuck in a bubble and forget that other countries do not use the US dollar bills. I remember that at first I would actually dismiss the coins until I noticed that they were one or two euros. Dealing with different currencies for me was extremely helpful since in my future career I will be dealing with money. The first time I got money out of the ATM in Amsterdam, I took out 150 Euros only to check my bank statement and notice it was over 200 USD. This quickly made me realize how much more euros were worth and made me be smarter with my spending.

While the currencies were certainly a big change, the everyday culture of the different countries was eye opening. The United States is a more modern country and sometimes people may forgot how young America is compared to the world. Some buildings in Europe were actually older than the United States. The buildings in America are more modern and looking at the different cities in the different countries was refreshing to see some beautiful architecture. My first days in Europe I found myself constantly taking pictures of the streets and buildings. Not only was the architecture different but just the way people were was different than America. In Amsterdam I was astonished by the amounts of bikes I saw and in many of the hotels they talked about being green, so it appears that in some countries in Europe they are more environmentally conscious. I also remember seeing several buses in Switzerland that were covered in quotes of people who have been hurt by domestic violence. Such raw social consciousness is admirable because in the USA it seems that only advertisements appear on our buses.

Not only did I expand my learning on different cultures but I also found myself growing as a person through this experience. I am a commuter student at Georgian Court and have never had any roommates, so learning that during the trip I would have two other roommates was very exciting for me. I actually went on this trip without knowing anyone that was going on it and during the meetings I did not really find myself trying to make friends. On the airplane and on the first day I found myself staying with my roommates, but by the second day I socialized more with other people even with students not even from Georgian Court. I feel like I went from knowing a couple of people’s names to by the end of trip having at least one conversation with everyone who went. I never expected to meet such amazing people that made this trip so enjoyable and I did not expect that I would be tearing up at the airport saying good bye to my new friends.

Traveling to Europe was one of the best experiences of my life and has made me realize that there is so much more out there that I need to go out and see. The different cultures was astounding and has definitely impacted me. It made me feel more grateful for small things such as my bed and actually knowing the language of the area.

This trip made me get out of my comfort zone and for that I am also very grateful. I cannot wait to revisit some of these places and visit new countries. I already want to go back!

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