Beyond the Borders: Nelly from the Netherlands

Once Nelly Tap started learning English in high school, she knew she wanted to study in an English-speaking country.

This senior psychology major is used to her psychology books being written by Americans. Coming from Groningen, Netherlands, Tap decided to study at Geneseo for a semester because of the contract between here and her school back home.

Geneseo is much different from her school in the Netherlands, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG), mostly because of the size. An average psychology class at RUG has 300 students, compared to the 30 students that Tap now shares class with. Because of this size, classes here are more interactive than Tap is used to. She was surprised by the participation credit that teachers offer and the multiple required essays. For Tap, it is harder to write than to speak English; however, she said she has done quite well on her papers.

Being used to a lack of a dining hall at RUG, Tap prefers to cook for herself in her townhouse. The large portions of food found in the United States and how popular junk food is here surprises her. One can get pizza, burgers, and french-fries at every meal. "People learn to eat this stuff; those aren't good habits," she said. She is used to eating more vegetables in the Netherlands and less meat.

One of the biggest surprises for Tap is that the "public transportation was so horrible!" in the U.S. Other countries have buses and trains, making it easier to travel. Here, Tap borrows her professor's car to take weekend trips to Niagara Falls and Toronto. She is not used to the roads, indicating that there are many more lanes than in the Netherlands. It was also a shock to drive an automatic car. Most cars that Tap is used to are stick shifts. While driving around, Tap noticed that many people fly American flags, and said it was amazing to see such patriotism. People aren't allowed to hang flags in the Netherlands except on special holidays.

While there are so many differences between the two colleges, Tap easily finds many similarities. "We're all students and we want to have a good time," she said. Tap achieves fun here through Zumba, ice skating and going to the Inn Between or the Idle Hour. There is a bar similar to the IB at RUG that most students go to, but the drinking age is 16 and bars are open until 5 a.m.

At the same time, however, both schools also crack down on studies. Tap said that at home, everyone crams into the libraries around finals. RUG's library is much larger but doesn't allow students to talk.

Tap is leaving after this semester but hopes to return in the future to see the West coast. Eventually, she plans to settle down in the Netherlands and work in a hospital.