The final letter

25 Jan 2023

More than 600 exchange students have joined Radboud University during the last semester. English Literature student Holly Hartley from the University of Exeter is one of them. For the past semester, she participated in a letter exchange, discussing her experience in Nijmegen with Julia Vosmeijer, an English Language and Culture student from Radboud who went for an exchange to Holly's home county, Kent. This week: the final letter.

Dear Julia,

I can’t believe your semester in Canterbury is already over! This must feel like the end of an era, but, hopefully, it will also be the beginning of an even better one.

Even though I still have a few months left in Nijmegen, I know how painful it is to say goodbye. Many of the close friends I have made here are leaving after this semester. It’s a strange feeling, remaining, whilst everyone else is moving on. And, if I’m being honest, it can occasionally also feel quite lonely.

Hearing you talk about returning to Nijmegen made me realise that I can’t help but miss my own home sometimes – especially after visiting Kent for Christmas. There is a comfort that comes with knowing exactly where I belong: where I speak the same language and where I know the streets like the back of my hand.

That being said, I do feel like I fit in here in Nijmegen, and I’ve surprised myself with how adaptable I’ve been. It’s just odd being stuck between places that you have grown to love, not quite knowing which one to call ‘home.’ I miss Kent, but I also feel settled in Nijmegen. I miss my first home, but I am looking forward to making new memories in the second one too.

Over the last few months, I started to make up for the student experience I had lost because of the Covid restrictions back home. And maybe I’m looking at it through rose-tinted glasses, because it was summer and everything is better in the sunshine, but starting my time in Nijmegen with the intro week is honestly my favourite memory here.

It will be strange looking back on these memories – discovering the Waal beach and going to my first nightclub and attempting to drunk-cycle – knowing that most of the people I made them with are now already back in their home countries while I will stay.

Perhaps Nijmegen will feel empty for a little while, but I know that this is just a transitory period between now and the next adventure. However hard it might be, I know that by staying behind and opening myself up to making new friends and memories next semester, I’m doing the right thing.

I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that your internship goes well. Thank you for letting me share this amazing time with you!

All the best,

This is the final letter in the letter-exchange between Holly and Julia. Holly will continue to write a column during the upcoming semester.

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