Baylor student reflects on her semester abroad

A cobblestone street in Maastricht, Netherlands Photo credit: Corrie Coleman

Corrie Coleman | Reporter

Baylor in Maastricht, Baylor’s oldest semester-long study abroad program, sends students to the Netherlands each semester and summer. Nestled between Germany and France, Maastricht is home to 123,000 people. Irving junior Lauren Frick has been living in this small Dutch city for the past three months, studying at Maastricht University and traveling on the weekends. Late Thursday night, she boarded a plane to return home to Texas.

Reflecting on her semester abroad, Frick said she is thankful for her time in Maastricht, a city she says now feels like home.

“I love Maastricht. I enjoy the people. Right now it’s in the 60s, and everyone is just walking and biking and laying in the lawn,” Frick said. “It’s just a slower pace of life. I’m really able to walk and think about things and talk to friends on the way to school.”

Frick also enjoyed her time attending Maastricht University where she took classes from Dutch professors.

“Getting to learn from the Dutch professors was amazing. They have such a different teaching style than American professors,” Frick said. “Getting to learn from other cultures and live in them helps you develop your worldview.”

Each weekend, Frick traveled to a different country. Her favorite destinations were the Irish countryside and Prague, Czech Republic.

“I went to Dublin was over St. Patrick’s Day weekend. We landed, and it was so festive, and the airport had all these shamrocks hanging off the ceiling,” Frick said. “Also, I knew nothing about Prague going into it but I absolutely loved it. There was this castle that we spent all day exploring and the architecture was amazing.”

Frick says that, while traveling, she has developed close friendships with the other Baylor students in her group. They plan to have reunions in Waco during the fall semester.

“I love our group so much,” Frick said. “There’s thirty six of us, and everyone loves each other. We’re all friends.”

Frick says she has not often been homesick but sometimes small difficulties make her miss the United States.

“I’ve missed being able to read the signs, which was never a big deal in America. Walking around Maastricht, I have no clue what signs say,” Frick said. “Sometimes little things make me homesick but I’m having so many amazing experiences that I know I would much rather be here.”

Frick believes that her semester in Europe has taught her to be more independent and empowered her to travel more in the future.

“I’m a lot more independent and not as scared to walk up to someone and be like, ‘Hey, we need help figuring out where we’re going.’”

Her time abroad has also given her more empathy for others, Frick says.

“I have a whole lot more respect for people in America who don’t speak the language,” Frick said. “I’ve always understood that it’s probably really hard but now, being in those shoes, I have a lot more respect for them.”

Frick feels that experiencing new cultures and beliefs has impacted her in many ways.

“Getting to experience so many different cultures and really take it in was amazing,” Frick said. “But also a lot to process and I don’t think I’ve finished processing it yet.”

Los Altos junior Derek Chou attended Baylor in Maastricht last semester. His time in the Netherlands has allowed him to feel more confident in himself and to be more open to new people and ideas.

“Coming back to Waco, I’ve definitely been more open minded about different perspectives and different people. Trying to figure out train rides and organizing groups to go somewhere, I’ve really learned to be more independent.” Chou said. “It was a great experience and I hope to go back.”