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10 Feb, 2020   |   

Meet the Cast Monday: Merel from the Netherlands

On this week’s Meet the Cast Monday, get to know Merel, a second semester traveler in the Up with People gap year from from the Netherlands!

gap year student volunteer abroad

What are some of your hobbies back home?

“My biggest hobby is dance. Besides dancing, I love to write and make videos, but I enjoy spending time with my friends the most.”

What are you most excited for this semester?

“I am most excited to travel again. I can’t wait to meet new people, get to know more cultures, and to make new connections. I am also very excited to impact each new community that we’re visiting.”

What are you most nervous for this semester?

“Honestly, I was a little bit nervous for traveling with a new cast. In such a short amount of time, I got so close with the people I traveled with. I miss the people from my first semester, but nevertheless I am also very excited to get to know this cast better!”

gap year students up with peopleWhat has made your second semester experience different from your first semester experience?

“I missed the first two weeks of preparation for the tour in my first semester, so the past two weeks were also kind of new for me. One difference is that I recognize or know most of the dances and songs and topics we’re talking about in workshops. However, some things are definitely still new for me because I have a better understanding since my English improved throughout my first semester.”

From your time in Denver this semester, what are some differences you have seen between The Netherlands and Colorado?

“First of all, the altitude. The Netherlands is 50% below sea level and now I am in ‘The Mile High City.’

Another difference I’ve experienced is that it is ‘easier’ or much more common to go out for dinner.

The last difference I noticed is the weather. One day it’s hot and the next day it is literally snowing. We don’t experience those extreme weather changes in such a short amount of time in The Netherlands.”

What is one thing that you have learned in Up with People that you really want other people to know?

“I’ve become more aware of global issues and I’ve met and seen so many different people, cultures, and communities. That really made me look at the world differently. I can look through different perspectives now and I have realized that I have become more open-minded than before.”

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

“I am someone who likes to follow things that cross my path. In 10 years, I hope to have traveled a lot more and to have finished studying in a program that fits me well.”


“The heart’s still beating,
The fire’s still burning.
We may be feeling
That the wind is turning
And the pain is healing,
Though the mem’ries may be long.
The heart’s still beating,
The heart’s still beating,
The heart’s still beating strong.

Heart’s Still Beating © Up with People

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