Continuing our catch-up with some of the Class of 2016, we spoke with former Prefect Egle Budreviciute, who has been speaking about her first year studying at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands:
How has your first year been studying in Amsterdam?
“It has been absolutely incredible. It became my home much sooner than I thought it would. If anyone would ask me now where I am from, I would proudly reply with "I am an Amsterdammer".
“You can be easily overwhelmed with its spirit - so many things going on each minute! Story telling evenings, feminist art festivals, great music, free yoga in public parks during the summer, but with time I have found a few niches within the city where I belong and made them my home.
“I am studying in a liberal arts and sciences college (Amsterdam University College), which is a part of the University of Amsterdam. Though initially I started off as a Social Science major, focusing on International Relations and Law, after taking an elective class in Literature I quickly realized that Humanities have always had my heart (Thank you, Mr Murphy).
“So now I am a double major in Literature and Culture, with a minor in Anthropology and I have been enjoying every single minute of my classes and hope to eventually combine my love for literature with teaching (Again, thank you Mr Murphy).
“Socially, since my university is very diverse and internationally minded, I have made friends with some incredible people from all over the world and heard quite a few unbelievable stories.
“Each conversation has been a wonderful eye opening experience. We all look out for each other and it truly feels like a community of weird, intelligent and super quirky misfits.”
What are the differences between this and life at Rydal Penrhos?
“Well, to start with, I do not have to sign in to my boarding house when I appear at its door and, admittedly, I go to sleep quite a bit later than 10pm in the evening.
“There is much more responsibility you have to acknowledge and take upon yourself as an adult, including managing your finances, doing taxes, cooking for yourself (pasta all day everyday) and managing your time. There have been quite a few moments when I thought about how appreciative I should have been of having food put on my plate at an arranged time 3 times a day.
“Living in Amsterdam is much more wild and free than living in the boarding house, however, the sense of community and all of my university's students having to live together for the duration of our studies reminds me a lot of Rydal Penrhos. It is very easy to pop in to a friend's room for a movie night or a quick chat.
“Moreover, since it is a specialised college, the classes are as small as they were at Rydal, Penrhos meaning that I haven't yet experienced what it feels like to sit in a lecture hall with 250 other students.”
What have been your highlights of your first year studying in the Netherlands?
“It feels like this whole academic year, every single day of it, has been one huge highlight! Nevertheless, now that you make me choose a couple, I will try my best.
“Realising my love for literature and changing to humanities has definitely been a huge step for me, a decision which continues to feel right and make me very happy.
“Moreover, after religiously going to storytelling and spoken word evenings every week in one cultural cafe in Amsterdam I gathered up the courage and became a storyteller myself and continue to perform there. I joke with the owners that I spend so much of my time there that I should just bring a tent and a mattress.
“Besides that, there were many little moments when I was with my close friends, or walking by a canal as the sun bathes the tops of quirky Amsterdam buildings and just thought to myself how grateful I am to be where I am."
What life lessons have you gained this year?
1. Trust your heart (or the feeling at the pit of your stomach)
2. Be open. Smile to the world and the world will smile back.
3. Be proactive. Don't sit on your butt and wait opportunities to come to you. Get up and get them yourself.
What’s the hardest part about learning abroad?
“For me, I was already learning abroad whilst I was at Rydal Penrhos (I moved from Lithuania at the age of 13), so the same feeling of homesickness kicks in from time to time:)
“But otherwise, the hardest part about being away from your parents and your original roots is knowing the joy AND responsibility that comes with taking care of yourself and making your own decisions"
How has life at Rydal Penrhos prepared you for further education?
“It has definitely made me more emotionally independent, teaching me how to be self-reliant, but also communicate with others when I need help or advice.
“Also, my brilliant teachers (shout out to Mr Murphy, Mrs Crimes, Mr Price, Mr Underwood, Mrs Richardson) have inspired my love for learning but also taught me how to be disciplines and study productively when the finals arrive.
“And, since I have transferred to Humanities, the skills that I have learned in my English and History classes have been vital in my current academic success.
“I have recycled many of the discussions with the teachers, set books and theories in my current exams and papers. I even wrote my first year academic research project on Grace Nichols, a wonderful poet that we have studied for the A-level exams in English Literature classes."
Do you have any words of wisdom for those that are embarking on further education in September?
“Trust yourselves, work hard and fully embrace the lessons you have learned in Rydal Penrhos, and the person into whom it has helped you shape.
“But, above all else, take things one step at a time and enjoy the ride!”