Saying "Yes" When Opportunity Knocks

There is absolutely nothing in the world that compares to the excitement of arriving in a new city for the very first time. A brand new place opens up the doors to possibility, exploration, adventure and so much more. That being said, simply taking a vacation to a new place and moving to a new place involve very different emotions.

Let's rewind to April. When I received my acceptance letter for HU in the Netherlands, I had originally decided I was going to decline it. My heart was set on my first choice, Singapore. I literally put random schools for my second and third choice because I was positive I was going to get what I wanted. Seeing the email read "Utrecht" and not "Singapore" made my entire plan fall apart. I had no idea where Utrecht even was. I closed the email, shut off my phone and wondered why I wasn't good enough for what I had dreamed for. During the past two years I researched and read everything there was to know about Singapore and Asia. I looked into courses that were offered by Ryerson's partner university, housing accommodations, travel options, health and safety, the culture, etc. I thought I had it all figured out and I was sure things would follow my plan. And then, just like that, they didn't. With one email, two years worth of dreaming felt like it went down the drain. 

The people in my life told me to sleep on it for a few days and start looking into Utrecht. I'm an extremely stubborn person, so in my mind I already knew what I wanted to do. I kindly replied with, "I will," because I didn't want to be bothered about it anymore. I couldn't understand what the point of looking into it was if I already knew I didn't want to go. 

A few days later I was scrolling through Facebook and an ad for Airbnb showed up. When moving my cursor, I accidentally clicked it. To my surprise, there it was. A sign. "Visit Utrecht." I figured there was no harm in looking at some pictures. I plugged "Utrecht" into my Google search bar and was certain I typed in the wrong city when the results came up.

Taken on my first day in Utrecht - Crazy how quickly perspectives can be changed. 

Taken on my first day in Utrecht - Crazy how quickly perspectives can be changed. 


I instantly fell in love with what I was looking at and that's when I realized how rare it is to be handed life-changing opportunities. Turning down something as big as moving abroad could have possibly be the worst decision to make for myself. I accepted my offer to HU and never looked back. I promised myself not to compare the exchange offer I got to the exchange offer I wanted to get as I needed to view the entire situation in a more optimastic light. 

Moments, when lost, can’t be found again. They’re just gone
— Jenny Han

Getting accepted to European Culture & European Journalism (ECEJ) at HU was something to be proud of myself for. More than anything, I wanted a fresh start and this was my golden ticket to do just that. This is when I learned an important lesson that will guide me through the next 6 months: Life hardly ever goes as planned and that is perfectly okay. I truly believe that absolutely everything happens for a reason. While I was nervous about moving abroad, I knew it would impact my perspective in all the right ways. 

Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.
— Arnold Bennett

So here I am, in Utrecht. It's only been one week and I've never been more grateful to be anywhere. Studying abroad is something I've wanted to do since I was 13 and it's surreal to me that it's actually happening. This city is more beautiful than words can describe and I've enjoyed every minute to exploring what this country has to offer. Next week is my first week at HU and I can't wait to be at a European Journalism School. Stay tuned for more on that very soon!

Dear the Netherlands...I'm sorry I doubted you.

But thank you for letting me stay. 

- S.