Across the pond

I’ve written a number of editorials on how the education you receive at Rensselaer is only as powerful as you make it. In all honesty, it’s probably the easiest thing to complain about at RPI: we’re consumed by studying to a degree that prevents us from remembering that the world is larger than Troy. I think it’s important to take the value of our education into perspective, and to understand the context in which you can apply it. Oddly enough, that context is much larger than the capital region, and even the United States.

I don’t mean to sound preachy about the importance or relevance of spending a semester abroad; I feel like it’s a terrible cliché for a person to get high and mighty about the time they spend abroad. But at the same time, I think there’s something to be said about the opportunity that’s presented to college students. This is arguably the most readily available chance you will ever have to live in another country for months at a time; after college you have to worry about the bills, work, and relationships that come at the expense of leaving. There is a world that is at your fingertips right now, and it might not be there again for a very long time.

And it’s for that reason that I’m spending this semester at Maastricht University in the Netherlands—because I probably won’t be able to try this again until I’m retired. For me, it’s about taking the chance to really understand the culture and history of a country that isn’t the U.S. to a degree that I wouldn’t be able to achieve in the space of some two-week vacation. This is about really sucking the marrow out of a different place, so I can understand how different people can be.

I’ve opted to put my experience as an RPI student to print, and I’m hoping that I can achieve two major things. For one, I’m hoping that I can bring something new to my favorite college newspaper: The Poly. For another, I’m hoping that I can give RPI students some insight into the experiences of one of their own abroad. I can’t say that I won’t miss everyone in Troy, but I think this is an excellent opportunity to show the impact of Rensselaer abroad.

Nathan Dorer will be writing a regular column on his experience studying abroad.