Beating the odds to study abroad: Reuben Martens, Linfield’s lone international student

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Ethan Myers

Reuben on the courts

Anne Walkup, Staff writer

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Only one international exchange student made it to Linfield this year, and the journey was anything but easy.“I just couldn’t get into the mindset of going to the University of Amsterdam,” said Ruben Martens, who is from Utrecht, Netherlands. 

His heart was set on spending his first year of college abroad in the U.S. 

From what Martens has observed about the college experience in the Netherlands as opposed to in the U.S, the two are quite different. Students tend to commute from home rather than live on campus in the Netherlands, whereas students living on campus within the U.S is common.

Martens had visited the U.S. before, considering it as a study abroad destination but didn’t decide to go through with his plans until December of last year. 

However, the pandemic had other ideas. 

 As restrictions arose and isolation became the norm, the travel ban between the U.S. and Europe was placed. Martens’ friends made the tough decision to cancel their study abroad plans, however he remained optimistic and determined. Martens knew his experience would not be the same, but the desire to study abroad kept him hopeful. 

 Managing to schedule an appointment at the embassy, the Netherland native applied for his student visa just a few weeks before he was supposed to depart for the U.S. He knew he’d already be cutting it close, even if there were no holdups in the process.So when he received an email from the embassy saying he was missing documents and would not be granted his visa, it was disheartening news.

Unwilling to give up, he went in person to the embassy and was turned away three times due to his missing documents, before finally being granted the visa just in time to depart. 

 “I was actually pretty happy to be quarantined when I got here,” Martens remarked, referring to his two-week quarantine period which is required after international travel. He explained that it was the relaxation he needed after an eventful and stressful travel process. Having visited New York and Las Vegas on prior occasions, Martens admitted that the flying itself is far less stressful than the travel preparation. 

Post-quarantine however, he said he is fortunate to have a roommate who introduced him to other Linfield students. Martens is also a member of the men’s tennis team and has enjoyed getting to know his new teammates. He remarked that attending a university in the U.S. has taught him “the best part of college is meeting new people.” 

 Eager to explore, Martens has plans with some of the friends he’s made at Linfield to visit nearby destinations. “We want to go to the beach and to Crater Lake,” he said. The hope is to also visit Idaho, Washington and California if possible. 

No matter what his year in the U.S ends up being like, Martens is grateful for the opportunity to be abroad. It’s a welcomed experience from what his life would be like had he spent this year at home. “The U.S. and Europe are so different,” he said. “You don’t have skyscrapers in Europe—just the old buildings. For people in Europe, going to the U.S. is so cool.”