Mike Bowen

Exchange fall 2016-2017

After living in Canada for 21 years, I decided to go on an international exchange to Tilburg, and ended up finding a home. Leaving Canada and going on an exchange to a little city in the south of the Netherlands turned out to be easily the best experience, decision, and time of my life.

On the 17th of August in 2016 I moved from Foxboro, Canada to Tilburg for my exchange semester at Tilburg University. Still groggy from the overnight flight, full of sleeping pills, and jetlagged to no end, I jumped off the train expecting a confusion riddled day of slugging suitcases around looking for some building called professor something. Instead I was greeted as soon as I exited by I*ESN volunteers who seamlessly guided me through my arrival. As what could be described as at best a novice partier, I foolishly decided to avoid the I*ESN signup sheet for at least a few more days until I adjusted to the new country.

As a Canadian I had never heard of I*ESN, but I joined in for TOP week and was introduced to my mentor group 11 made up of strangers from around the globe, and we were lead through a week full of activities, parties and more. From that point on our little family was inseparable and we followed each other through every laugh filled mentor dinner, beer-soaked cantus, every road trip, and every group celebration. Together with your mentor group you will experience not only the Netherlands, but every nook and cranny of the world through which your new friends call home. From all corners of each continent, to all the stray Dutchies you pick up along the way, you will learn the different cultures, greetings, and mannerisms people call normal on their parts of the globe.

You will come to expect Tuesday nights to be the best nights of the week as you meet with your group for a mentor dinner typically consisting of a meal from a particular part of the globe (or pasta from the lazy cooks), followed by slightly sloppy bike rides to the I*ESN bar Carpe Noctem. Prepare to leave your memory at the door and dance until the sun comes up, leaving any sense of shyness behind with that 3rd (or 10th) shot of Jäger and learn to party like a true Dutchman. Party like no one is watching (although the queen of romance definitely is) and judge no one for their actions from the night before (Except Nine. Always judge Nine).

Don’t let me mislead you. I*ESN is about so much more than partying. From fun, cheap, and well organized trips to Amsterdam and Prague, to every Friday night cooking with culture /pubquiz events I learned so much about the world outside of my home country, all while meeting new friends to explore and relax with. From the first day of joining I*ESN I never regretted any decision I made or friend I met. I encourage every new exchange student to dive head first into this club and experience everything it has to offer. You are guaranteed to be met with an amazing group of mentors who will help to make this little city home. While on exchange I experienced everything from summiting my first mountain, to experiencing some of the best cities Europe had to offer. I am thankful for every bike crash, every hangover, and every tear this experience has brought me and I wouldn’t change any of it.

I would like to thank the board, my mentors, my group, and the other half of I*ESN’s cutest couple, for making this last semester the greatest experience of my life. I am unbelievably jealous of those of you who will be a part of the winter semester at I*ESN, and I hope you will truly love every moment of your exchange experience and let none of it go to waste.

Seize the night,
M. Bowen

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