Spencer Stone

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Business Administration
Program: Radboud University - Nijmegen School of Management
Location: Nijmegen, the Netherlands
Email: Spencer_Stone@kenan-flagler.unc.edu
Term: Spring 2019

 

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I had always thought in my head that I would study abroad, but after my first semester at Carolina I started having serious doubts; I didn’t want to miss any time from my precious 4 years with my friends and with the town of Chapel Hill. Studying abroad did not become concrete for me until I took a visit to the Study Abroad Office and met with Ms. Meredith Bryson. She walked me through the options I had as a sophomore, which areas would line up well with my major, and more about the general process. After that meeting, I never looked back. As for my program, I chose to study at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands because of the location of the Netherlands in Europe (easy to travel from), the language (while Dutch is the official language, English is spoken by 90% of the population), and the University’s accredited School of Management.

 

What did you learn about yourself?
I spent nearly six full months on my study abroad period (end of January to mid-July) and that time was filled with self-discovery. It is an inspiring and empowering thing to actually live in another country where you know absolutely no one. By not only surviving but thriving in the Netherlands and during my travels, I have learned that my interpersonal skills have the power to span continents, languages, and cultures. Even when I could not speak the language of a place I was traveling to, I was always able to get my point across with gestures, words in a similar language, or, as a last resort, Google Translate. I am now endowed with the confidence to travel anywhere in the world with a smile on my face.

 

What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
My favorite memory from my program actually occurred after my official program period had ended and I was afforded a week of travel time before I had to be back in the US. Along with a few of my friends I made at Radboud University, we stayed at my friend Violet’s house in Brighton, England. Then, we went to Dublin, Ireland to stay with our friend John. Finally, we all went to our friend Katie’s house in Galway, Ireland. It was amazing to see the people I had spent each and every day of the last six months with back in their elements and scuttling around their hometowns. To have families of people I hadn’t met until a few months prior welcome me into their homes as if I were family is something that I could never have expected and will always hold with me.

 

What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS! APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS! APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS! After the main study abroad application, I decided to fill out the scholarship application as well, despite some application fatigue. I was the fortunate recipient of the Gravely Family Study Abroad Scholarship, allowing me to travel while abroad. During the six months I was able to travel to Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Norway, Spain, England, and Ireland. If you want to travel, eat out more than you usually would, or just add more wiggle room with your budget while abroad, then apply for scholarships.

 

Would you do it again?
A million times over.

 

How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at UNC?
The structure and nature of the classes I took at Radboud University were much different from those at Carolina. As is standard in much of Europe, 80-100% of the final grade in any given class is determined by the final exam grade. However, this also means that there are no regular homework assignments. The relationships with professors were also much different than at Carolina; I felt as though teachers at Radboud were more concerned with their own research than they were with the learning of their students, and that created more of a chasm with professors and students than exists at Carolina.

 

How do you identify?
Covenant Scholars, Rural County Resident

 

Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
For Covenant Scholars, please take the opportunity to study abroad whenever possible. It was one of the best decisions of my life, and it was all paid for. All of the money from your normal aid package goes toward the study abroad fees, and the rest is provided to you for rent, food, travel expenses, and discretionary spending. Nearly all study abroad programs run at about the same total cost as a semester at Carolina, bar Summer programs. For those from a rural county, particularly if you do not have a lot of experience with (international) traveling, studying abroad is the perfect opportunity to expand your worldview. Being from a small town it can feel like the world is shrunk down a bit, but studying abroad blows that narrow view apart. Having your mind blown by food, eccentric people, and cultural quirks is a daily occurrence during your study abroad period.

 

If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
The friends I made while abroad quickly became my support system to lean on. While my family and friends in the US were always there for me, the friends you make on study abroad are experiencing challenges and triumphs in a very similar manner to the way you are. They understand the depth of your struggles more than anyone else could, and the limited time you have together creates an open and accepting environment.

Memories

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