Vail Daily column: A place of transformation
February 6, 2013
Sydney Miller graduated from Battle Mountain High School in 2009 and went on to attend San Diego State University. I knew Miller through volleyball I was a senior when she was a freshman. I remember Miller as a very spunky girl with such a positive attitude and a contagious smile. As an ex-teammate of Miller and a friend of hers I am so happy and proud of her for going for her dreams. Miller proves that with determination, hard work, drive and courage that you can make your dreams come true. Miller’s experience in Amsterdam seems amazing and a truly life-changing experience. Miller is a senior at SDSU and will graduate in May. She majors in journalism and media studies and minors in television film and media. Good luck, Sydney, with your future.-
– Britney Brown
I’d have to say that studying abroad was by far the best and most rewarding experience of my life. After realizing that choosing a private program was not an alternative for me, I decided to go through SDSU Exchange, a program in which you pay tuition at your home university and get the opportunity to study in a different country. Given my desire to work in the dance music industry, I knew that many of the world’s best DJs come from the Netherlands. I chose Rotterdam, known for having the biggest port in Europe. After choosing my destination, I had to complete a checklist that included applying for a residence permit in Holland, various scholarships, course approval forms, securing an apartment and plane tickets. Although the process was tedious, I can say now that it was well worth it.
Fortunately, I was awarded two scholarships, The Gilman International Scholarship and the San Diego State University Associated Students Study Abroad Scholarship, which almost completely covered all of my costs abroard. Just a word for any of those who are considering going abroad – there is free money everywhere. Go for a scholarship because most likely, if you put in some effort you will get it. Who doesn’t love free money?
I arrived in Holland alone on Aug. 27. I had no idea what to expect. Let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised. My apartment was amazing, and so were my friends. The university was large and bustling with dedicated students. I found the way of teaching there to be unique – eight weeks of three-hour intensive courses with face-to-face sections, followed by a cumulative final. The semester was split into two terms. I studied away during the first term, learning what the true definition of theoretical teaching was. Little did I know that during Term 2 I would have the ultimate opportunity of a lifetime.
Given that I chose to study in Holland because of its influence on the dance music market, I attended the one and only Amsterdam Dance Event – a three-day conference about the industry and a festival to showcase nearly every DJ/producer big or small, underground or mainstream. It is Europe’s equivalent to the Miami Winter Music Conference, but in October instead of March and in Amsterdam instead of Miami.
Fortunately for me, my evolving network in the industry, passion for the movement, location, irrationality and my gut feeling to talk my way into VIP paid off. During that weekend in October I met the woman who would be my future boss who would later interview and hire me for the internship of a lifetime at the internationally acclaimed Ace Agency (Ace Agency currently represents big names like Afrojack, Sidney Samson, R3hab, and many more) in Amsterdam. –
Not only did I study during Term 2, but after being hired I commuted to Amsterdam four days a week to work nine-hour days, managing to re-release the agency’s dated website, make the artist’s their Wikipedia pages, help maintain the company’s social networks, as well as try to understand the Dutch I could. To me it sounded like everybody had a cold, coughing and all – it’s a very unique and complex language. I learned that the Dutch, professor or booking agent, hold very high expectations for individuals. There was blood, sweat and tears involved in this experience, but I must say, every tear was worth it.
Because I worked nearly 40 hours a week, on top of studying, I had no time to travel. Although I did not have your average study abroad experience, one of constant travel, I must say that the experience has changed my life, my work ethic, and has truly helped me transform into a woman. After working hard to establish a career path for myself, making new friends, and meeting the love of my life in Holland, it is hard to see what my life would be like had I not chosen to study aboard.
Many may see Amsterdam and Rotterdam as a place for drugs, the red light district and canals, but it has become so much more to me than that. It is a place for opportunity and personal transformation – plus the cheese, bread, and beer are to die for.
I would encourage anybody to study aboard not for the travel, but for what you can learn about yourself and what you are truly capable of.