Study Abroad: Students investigate localized Dutch geography

Junior Nathan Trombley spent the fall semester away from home, studying abroad in Groningen, Netherlands.

A geography major with minors in economics and geological sciences, Trombley selected four classes that focused on the local area.

“I was able to still learn geography but it was within the context of the Netherlands and learning about the Dutch geography,” Trombley said. “I think it really enriched the experience because it was immersive. It wasn’t just living in another country, studying the same thing, it was living and studying in the different country.”

Similarly, the academics at the University of Groningen encouraged out of classroom learning. Trombley went on day trips to Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague as part of classes to learn about a specific theme in those areas.

According to Trombley, other differences in academics included the grading and class structure. Professors graded fewer assignments. One of Trombley’s classes, a Dutch history course, had only one graded assignment: the final exam. Other courses, such as one on spatial planning, relied on independent work, and Trombley’s class only met a couple of times before it was responsible for holding its own group meetings throughout the semester.

“I think that was the most extreme example,” he said.

Due to the multinational students, all of Trombley’s classes were taught in English. Three of Trombley’s courses were exclusive to exchange students, while one included both University of Groningen degree-seeking students and exchange students.

Back in Geneseo for the spring 2013 semester, Trombley said he recommends studying abroad.

“I was kind of on the fence about it because it’s outside your comfort zone totally, but the people you meet and the experiences you have and the things you learn about the rest of this world outside of a little community here is definitely worthwhile,” he said.

Trombley said that he thinks Groningen is a great place to study abroad due to its strength in academics, but also its location. The University of Groningen dominates the city and therefore, its economy and activities are geared toward the students, making it easy to meet many new people, he said.

Returning to Geneseo, though, “it’s a very strange feeling,” Trombley said.

“When you have a home in two places you always miss one,” he said, citing adjunct lecturer in English Wes Kennison, a faculty fellow for international programs. While Trombley was away, he said he missed his family and friends in Geneseo and his hometown in Canandaigua, N.Y., but now that he’s back, he misses the city and friends he may never see again.

Despite the tough goodbyes, they’re “worth it ten times over,” Trombley said. “Even if I’m missing one of my homes, I have two and that’s really special.”