About me


 This blog is for everyone who considers themself a ´world citizien´. For the exchange students, expats and travelers. For those whose Facebook newsfeed is filled with posts in all different languages, some of which they even speak. For people who live for cultural differences and discovering new places, meeting international people.

´Nationality Unknown´ is for the people who do not identify themselves with only one ‘nationality’



 I am a 20-year-old Dutch girl with a passion for traveling, photography and languages

I think the experience of living abroad or really traveling is something not a lot of people know or even understand. I did an exchange in Panama when I was 16 and ever since I have been more and more passionate about learning new things and living in other countries.
RIgth now I am back in my home country, studying Latin American Studies at the University of Leiden.

Feel free to ask me any questions or leave a comment!



  • Reply bndglass December 19, 2014 at 10:11

    You have some wonderful experiences that many don’t have, thanks for sharing them with us! Best of luck in your future adventures 🙂

  • Reply Collette Kokesh December 24, 2014 at 14:40

    Hello! I don’t know good blog-comment-ediquette, so I apologize if this is abrupt.
    But anyways, I’m Collette. I’m an 17 year-old American in Italy right now, and I am about 3 1/2 months through with my 9 1/2 month exchange. This is my first time in a foreign country and I came to Italy only knowing as much as the Lizzie McGuire Movie, Eat Pray Love, and Under the Tuscan Sun*.
    *hopefully you’ve seen these films, they are very stereotypical in the way Italy is portrayed, DEFINITELY NOT showing how dynamic this little boot of a country is!
    I just wanted to tell you that (1) your English writing is perfect and (2) I love all of your blog posts. I can connect with each and every one of them, and many of the things I’ve done or feelings I’ve had but couldn’t put into words, you have!
    I have a blog as well, but it’s not as well organized and focused as yours. Your blog in general is a great inspiration for me as both a writer and traveller. Just reading your posts gives me confidence in myself and makes me feel better knowing I’m not the only one out there feeling these things.
    I’m not sure where I was going with this besides just telling you that you’re very inspirational to me. I’m always very envious of other countries besides the United States because you are taught multiple languages throughout your whole life while our education system doesn’t value the power COMMUNICATION! You’re very lucky. And I think the US is very silly in this domain.

    Thanks and Merry Christmas from a fellow world traveller!

    -Collette Kokesh
    Oregon, US / Mantova, Italy

    • Reply Amarens Elise - Traveling my way home December 24, 2014 at 15:13

      Hey there Collette! You have no idea how great it is to read this! During my exchange I only wrote a few blog posts and I just started picking it up again. It is funny how everything I write is from personal experience and feels so specific, yet it appears that so many exchange students can relate to it. It`s truly amazing to receive a comment from someone saying they have felt the same way or even better, that they felt comforted by it.

      I was checking out your blog and I really loved what you wrote about christmas. I didn`t see a follow button linked to wordpress but keep up the good writing (you have already written more than me in my entire exchange year probably haha)

      Thank you for this christmas git, I hope you have an amazing rest of your exchange year! Enjoy every moment of it because trust me, even though it doesn`t seem that way at all, time goes by fast and you are going to want to go back to your exchange year so badly afterwards!

      Love, Amarens

  • Reply Lisa Crisostomo January 19, 2015 at 09:44

    Hi Elise,
    Your article is very inspiring! I work for an exchange organisation and we hope to encourage younger people to do an exchange. Can I put your article in our website?

    • Reply Amarens Elise - Traveling my way home January 19, 2015 at 19:35

      Hey Lisa,
      Of course you may share my link on your website! I would be honoured! It was also my intention to encourage younger people to do an exchange 🙂

  • Reply downtherockyroad March 4, 2015 at 21:56

    Hey! I just randomly stumbled upon your blog and I can relate so well! I’ve been on exchange twice, I love travelling and learning languages. And just reading the “about me” page made me smile because i was at the book shop today and I bought a language course for dutch! :p i sooo want to learn that language! hahaha!

    • Reply Amarens Elise - Traveling my way home March 5, 2015 at 02:20

      Woa that is amazing, where are you from and where did you go on an exchange? And that is such a coincidence! Haha! Veel succes met het leren van Nederlands 😉

  • Reply Jiska March 7, 2015 at 23:43

    im an 16 year old dutch girl and im currently in America as an exchange student. I saw your blog and I just think the way you see the world is amazing! you are amazing!

  • Reply makc95 March 8, 2015 at 19:53

    Do more articles, they’re addicting! They’re written by understandable language and even I (who’s learning English) understand many of the ones 🙂 Keep it up!

  • Reply Sophie Bühlmann May 6, 2015 at 10:20

    I’m 16 years old, from Switzerland and currently on exchange in Sweden. I’ve got a blog about my exchange year, but it is in German so I don’t know… I can send you the link anyway, just in case you might be interested in it 🙂
    Btw, I really like your blog, it’s super interesting!

    • Reply Amarens Elise May 7, 2015 at 00:23

      Thank you for your comment Sophie! Would you be interested in writing a guest blog?

  • Reply Nina Zibetti May 18, 2015 at 13:42

    Hello! I am Nina, a 16 years old Italian girl and a future exchange student in Norway (I’m leaving this August).
    I too thought about writing a blog while there and yours just gave me lots of wonderful ideas. I really hope my experience will be as wonderful as you describe it. Can’t wait to leave!
    Keep it up 🙂

    • Reply Amarens Elise May 18, 2015 at 23:10

      Hey there Nina, I am so jealous that you have this amazing adventure ahead of you!
      I assure you, it will be that amazing!

      Love, Amarens

  • Reply Romane May 19, 2015 at 02:35

    Hey girl! Ik kom uit Belgie (ik ben Franstalige, sorry voor de fouten hehe). Ik heb je blog geleerd en ik houd ervan!! Het is echt leuk om te lezen and ik lees graag de country profiles vooral, heel tof! Ik ben in de VS nu, aan het einde van mijn exchange year. Ik heb de artikel “Exchange : What you leave behind” gelezen en ik heb bijna gehuild 😛 couldn’t help it: ik denk over wat ik in de VS zal verlaten. Maar ik ben echt geexciteerd om thuis te komen. Mixed feelings;)
    Sorry voor mijn Nederlands, ik heb geen gedaan in een jaar haha that’s bad!
    Keep on with your writing it’s really really nice!
    xx- Romane

    • Reply Amarens Elise May 19, 2015 at 15:49

      Hey Romane! Dankjewel voor je reactie, wat ontzettend lief! En je nederlands is sowieso beter dan mijn frans 😉
      Ik ben nog steeds aan het werken aan de country profiles, als je tips hebt voor de pagina van Belgie of de VS dan hoor ik die graag!
      En ik begrijp de mixed feelings heel erg goed. Heel erg veel sterkte met het weer thuiskomen in Belgie!

      Groetjes Amarens

  • Reply Luise Ebe May 22, 2015 at 19:19

    Hey it’s me again, I have no Idea how I can sent you a private message, so I hope I will find out on this way. You answered to my comment on facebook about the guest blogs, so I hope you will answer this one as well. I’m still very interested in writing for you. And I really really love your blog you did and you’re doing a great job.

  • Reply Nina June 20, 2015 at 20:42

    Hey girl 🙂
    I just randomly found your blog and I found it really inspiring. Not a lot of people really understand what it is like to travel. Because once you’ve seen life from a different point of view, there is no going back.
    I went to the US as an exchange student when I was nearly 16 and after graduation back in my home country I went to Australia to do a working holiday.
    I thought that America had made me a different person, but in Australia I realized that going abroad didn’t change me, it showed me who I really was.
    In Australia I was on a working holiday visa, so I was travelling around, meeting backpackers from all over the world and I had an amazing job with amazing friends. So there were no parents or host parents who told me what to do, when to go to bed or how to spend my money.
    After a few months my friends back home kept telling me that Australia “changed” me, now that I’m back they realized it even more. Things are a little complicated with a few people now and everything would be a lot easier if I was the person I was before I went to Australia.
    But to be honest, this is who I wanna be. I don’t have as many friends as before, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. If these people don’t appreciate me, then they were no real friends.
    Your blog is really inspiring, I always love reading about people who kind of went through the same experience, even if no travellers really make “the same” experiences.
    Honestly, go to Australia, you will meet more backpackers from all over the world than actual Australians and they all have a completely fascinating mentality, because they travel. They told me stories of places I haven’t even heard of, it’s truly amazing what this planet has to offer.
    I’m a German girl, kinda lost and not knowing what to do now that I am back home, I actually even live close to the Dutch border. If you need someone to talk to, hit me up 🙂

    PS: Sorry for the long comment hahaha

    • Reply Amarens Elise July 17, 2015 at 17:41

      Hey there Nina!

      Sorry for the late reply, I was actually traveling myself! I have always thought about going to Australia and doing something similar, I really hope I get the chance (although I strongly believe getting the chance is only about making one for yourself).
      And since I started this blog I realized there are so many people like us that are just not fitting in with the ‘regular’ people in a way that is not recognized like other type of known lifestyles, and it’s so nice to connect to those people, so thank you for leaving sharing your story!
      And I have the same, one girl actually told me she didn’t want to be friends anymore because I was always being so ‘interesting’ and she thought I did it to make her feel less interesting or something, and it hurt me so much because it’s not something that I am trying to do, talking about my experiences abroad is just who I am. You can not say “I like Amarens but all the stories of her being abroad are getting annoying” because those stories of me abroad are me, they define me as a person and other than that, I don’t know if I have a lot of things that I am actually passionate about.
      And you are right, it’s a great feeling to know people who are like minded! Thanks again for your comment!

      Love, Amarens

  • Reply Jasmine Jolly June 20, 2015 at 23:30

    I am so, so happy to have found your blog. I leave for Brasil in around a month and a half, and love hearing about other’s exchance experiences. Through the Rotary exchange program, I actually have a friend in California from Denmark (though she’s leaving soon), and a friend leaving for Denmark in around 2 months. Reading some of your posts, some of my nerves deminished, and I’m more excited than ever.
    Now, I do actually have a question. I’m going to be running a blog while I’m in Brasil, but I’m not so confident in my writing skills. Do you have any advice on what to write about or how, in general, to run a good blog? Many thanks.

    • Reply Amarens Elise July 17, 2015 at 17:57

      Hey there Jasmine, thank you so much for your comment!
      I am sure you will have an amazing time and I wish you all the best!

      Love, Amarens

  • Reply Kat July 20, 2015 at 12:44

    Leiden is beautiful. I used to live in Amsterdam, went to the UvA then I was hired by a now not existing NGO in the Children’s Rights House in Leiden. So when I wasn’t on 2-3 months research assignments in Africa, I was in the office in Leiden 4x a week. Enjoy your studies – nice blog.

    • Reply Amarens Elise July 20, 2015 at 13:05

      Leiden is beautiful indeed, and that sounds very interesting! I hope you have a great day!

      Love, Amarens

  • Reply Joaquina Toledo August 10, 2015 at 17:06

    What you do is amazing. I came back from my exchange in Belgium one month ago and i can’t stop searching for these kind of things, to something or someone i can relate with. It’s like your speaking for all the exchangers in the world and puting it in so nice words. Love it <3
    Love from Argentina !!!

    • Reply Amarens Elise August 21, 2015 at 22:59

      Muchisimas gracias Joaquina, for your kind words!
      I am so glad you enjoy reading my posts!

      Love, Amarens

  • Reply Nina August 13, 2015 at 08:15


    Thanks for the amazing post about the identity crisis that comes after an exchange, I’ve been at the start of this schoolyear on an erasmus exchange for 5 months and still have the feeling I don’t fit in now I am back, failed school and have to redo the year cause my teachers don’t understand what is going on but your blog described it perfectly. It feels like some bit of support knowing that there are more people that feel the same. And cool that you are Dutch too! Best of luck and enjoy it there!

    Greetings (:

  • Reply Beth Arnold October 9, 2015 at 04:52

    I am a USA host mom and area rep for YFU. I stumbled on one of your posts and didn’t stop until I had read them all. Right now our students are almost two months into their year and are struggling. I have printed out some of your blogs to share with them. I KNOW there will be things you shared that will touch them and help them through – enhancing the experience they are in the middle of having. Thank you for sharing not only your experiences, but for having guest bloggers who share different aspects of exchanges.

  • Reply Dany Herrera October 25, 2015 at 00:39

    I just read your blog and I felt that you’re telling my story. It’s been five months since I return from exchange and it doesn’t feel the same, sometimes it’s funny how I feel more like an stranger in my own country that in another hahaha the thing that really keeps me going is the opportunity to get to know people like you who are not afraid to express their feeling, keep on going (;

  • Reply Alessia October 26, 2015 at 14:46

    Your post about the exchange is amazing!
    I did a semester when I was 16 in Finland and I feel the same..
    I miss so much that time, my life, my school, my friends, my family… It was like living in an another dimension.
    I would recommend it to everyone since it’s the best experience one can do. And now as soon as I graduate I want spend sometime traveling or find work abroad.
    Love ya xoxo
    From Italy

    • Reply Amarens Elise November 1, 2015 at 01:32

      Hey Alessia!
      Exchange certainly is an amazing time, I hope you can fulfill all your dreams and find work abroad!
      All the best!

  • Reply Megan Rikkers November 3, 2015 at 23:20

    Bonjour Amarens! #ILoveyourname

    My name is Megan, and I live in South Africa (I am definitely Nationality Unknown because I am South African, Dutch and now I consider myself French too).

    I went on an exchange to France last year for 5 months, and I can honestly say those were the most incredible 5 months of my life (so far). The crazy thing is- they just FLEW past me in what felt more like a week than half a year :/
    I cherished every moment- from the first two months of frustration (from not understanding any French and being incredibly confused all the time) to the middle months of awe, new friendships and discovering new things, to the last months of dread (for leaving of course) and an immense appreciation for the most incredible journey.
    Lying in bed right now, I cannot believe that I left for France more than a year ago :O
    I, naturally, feel nostalgic about something everyday. Whether it’s a certain smell that takes me back to a certain place in France, or a face that resembles someone I met in France, or just someone speaking French round me. I miss it all- the obstacles and the joy, the good times and the tough times, because they all made up my incredible journey “ensemble”.
    so i just want to sat, THANK YOU so much for this blog! My host sister from France is now on her exchange in USA and she told me about Nationality Unknown while we Skyped. I have been searching for something like this since i decided on my exchange more than two years ago :’) This is a beautiful blog and I love the fact that so many of us are going through/ have gone through/ will go through the same incredible journey. And having a place to share our experiences and feeling about this together is magical.
    Thank you so much! And I am so grateful for our special International Community of “Wanderlusters”
    Bonne nuit
    <3 <3 <3

    • Reply Amarens Elise November 5, 2015 at 04:43

      Hey Megan!

      Merci beaucoup, that is so sweet of you! And I am so honoured that I am being mentioned in Skype sessions between host sisters haha, that is amazing to hear! I feel like more and more people are beginning to identify with not only one country or culture, and that is really wonderful. It is a really special community indeed!
      I wish you all the best!

      Love, Amarens

  • Reply Malin December 7, 2015 at 04:08

    Thanks so much for creating this blog. It is such a great inspiratinon for both me and so many others! I love the consept, and if you are ever in need of a guest writer please contact me. I am currently spending a year in Costa Rica, and I live and breathe for both wrighting and travelling. Pura Vida, as we say down here

  • Reply Kate Madden December 12, 2015 at 18:03

    Amarens you are amazing!
    I was feeling worried and nervous about everything that I am going to encounter in my exchange to the United States. And I can’t sleep well in the pre-departure days because I am on my own in the hosting uni and no friends of mine are going to that college. I become increasingly nervous about this.

    But your words are truly inspirational and totally change my attitude towards my future exchange journey. I am gonna just cherish everything in my journey, goods and bads, ups and downs, everything!
    I am born to be a bit timid but not afraid to show my true personality and friends around me always think that I am cheerful. I may get pessimistic sometimes, but when I found the article you wrote here, I feel a lot better ! thank you Amarens you rock!

  • Reply Eka aliyah December 24, 2015 at 14:45

    Heeiii… I love your way to share your experiences while abroad !
    I felt the sameeee almost all 😂😂
    Anyway I am also an exchange student from Indonesia in Hungary.

  • Reply Raquel January 4, 2016 at 15:51


    I love reading your blog! Its really nice! I am from Brazil and when I was 17 I went to Germany for a exchange year by AFS !

    Now I am a volunteer of AFS and I work with many international students, hosting families and so on.. You should try it too in your city! Check it: http://www.afs.nl/ and keep in touch with them!


    • Reply Amarens Elise January 8, 2016 at 18:43

      Thanks Raquel, I am already an AFS sister and volunteer 🙂

  • Reply Alejandra January 17, 2016 at 18:47

    Hey! Im 16 years old and tomorrow I will be going to an exchange. I am a little nervous. I have never done this, or travel alone or being so much time far from home. Im a little scared too. Like scared from the unknown, scared of how everything will be. You said on your post that if we want to talk to you we can on your contact page. I didnt find it, so… Can you give me some advice, tips, for the exchange? I will really apareciate that. What things you would have liked someone told you before you went to the exchange?

  • Reply Robin Vanhuysse March 19, 2016 at 13:39

    Hey! Ik ben een vlaming(kortrijk), en ik ben vorig jaar zelf op uitwisseling geweest naar Ecuador. Het was zalig, en ook al had ik niet meteen een connectie met mijn gastfamilie, de cultuur en de mensen waren gewoon fantastisch. Hierdoor ben ik nu echt gepassioneerd door reizen, local-style :). Het enige wat mij vaak tegenhoudt is, dat ik nooit vrienden kan overtuigen om mee te gaan op zo’n avonturen of eens iets anders dan normaal willen doen, het is moeilijk mensen te vinden die enigszins gelijken op jezelf….

    Heb je daar ook al moeilijkheden meegehad? Of heb je een tip ofzo…? Ik kijk echt uit om te zien hoe jij daarover denkt.
    groetjes, Robin 😉

  • Reply Rahel April 21, 2016 at 11:03

    Hi Amarens,
    I just wanted to tell you that your blog is amazing! I love your posts and they give me ideas what I could write on my own blog. Am I allowed to put a link to your blog on my page as you are the one who inspires me to some posts and you did basically all the “work”(coming up with ideas to write about)? And it is so good to know that other exchange students struggle with the same things I do. Most people just cut out the bad things when they’re writing their blog. I like how you put the good and bad experiences in one and how you feel confident to share everything with all your readers.
    I have almost 3 months left in New Zealand and I completely agree what you write about the final months on your blog…
    Keep up your good work,

  • Reply Susan Hicks June 23, 2016 at 02:29

    I just love reading all these posts from young people that have gone on exchanges. Before we hosted exchange students we never dreamed we would travel to other countries. (U.S. is really like a bunch of countries! but one language). Our world was changed by hosting international students. We have been so blessed. All these people writing on your comments have made such an impact on the people that they stayed with and met! And we have been so fortunate to go and stay with many of our students and “live” with the locals even if it was only for a short time!

  • Reply Mert Sanivar November 1, 2016 at 13:27

    Your blog is very nice and inspiring. Thanks for sharing your experiences. We just had an intern from the Netherlands and she was one of the most friendly and kind people I’ve ever met. She had studied at our university (a University in Istanbul, I’m an administrator here at International programs office) two semesters ago as an exchange student and she came back for the internship. She learnt some Turkish and was practicing with her friends. I saw in her the lovely side of Dutch culture I guess; because she was fun, energetic, dramatic, positive, very warm blooded, giving and polite and plus professional. I thank you again for sharing and letting people share. Exchange is good and you’re making it happen on your blog.

  • Reply Alissia April 15, 2017 at 11:52

    Hey Amarines!
    I am inspired by your blog and collection of travel photos.
    My name is Alissia, I am raised in Delft holland and At a young age i moved to B.C, in Canada. I am interested to meet new people and learn a language. Since A few days I discovered the language exchange group i am really happy about. I also was curious to know if thete are any group or event for internationals in Den Haag? I study in rotterdam, so it is hard to keep up with a language after school and meet up. I hope to hear from you and possibly meet up sometime to hear our stories. Happy easter and have a nice day. Groetjes, alissia

  • Reply Angel August 4, 2017 at 09:46

    Hi Amarines! I’ve read your article POST EXCHANGE LIFE: WHAT YOU LEAVE BEHIND and it’s so relatable. I feel like you’ve spoken my mind while reading it.
    I went on exchange in Canada at the beginning of this year. I came back at the end of May. In the first week of arriving in my host country, having made friends whom I have deep connection with, I was already feeling worried about leaving. I knew I still had 4 months to go but I also knew that time would fly by just like that. I also realised how happy I was living in this new place and meeting new people every day.
    Towards the end of the exchange journey, I was feeling extremely sad about going back home. I knew I would miss this place and my friends a lot. Then I came across this article, I felt less lonely to know that someone out there has gone through the same thing. Now I’m back for more than 2 months, I reread this article and it’s helped me a lot. I’d like to thank you for the inspiration. 🙂 Wish you all the best!

    • Reply Amarens Elise August 4, 2017 at 12:50

      Hey Angel,

      Thank you for your comment, I am happy you could relate to the post.
      Wish you all the best too.

  • Reply Maria August 28, 2017 at 03:24

    There’re no better words to describe how I feel… working now but wanting to move abroad to work and go chasing dreams… and yes, people is still surprised when I say I’m leaving for JUST one month… love to see life this way, with eyes open. Best of luck from Mexico

  • Reply Elena October 15, 2017 at 02:45

    Hi! I don’t know how to send you a privatw message, but I hope I will receive an answer, bc I really need one.
    I’m an exchange student, I’m Italian and right now I’m in Michigan to do my year abroad. I’m 17 and I’ve never been this far away from home until now. I’m really attached to my parents and my family, and I thought that this experience could help me to become a more independent person.
    But now that I’m here… I don’t know… It’s been almost 2 months since I arrived ans things are not going really well for me. Lately I’ve been really homesick and sad, I had a panic attack while I was running one day and probably it was due to my anxiety (that sometimes just comes out without no reason and stays until I go to sleep).
    I’m mad at myself bc I took the decision of coming here, bc I know that this is a great and unique experience that I should live with a smile, and by being sad I’m just wasting time, but… Even though I know all of this I just can’t help but being sad. I wanna be happy, I wanna enjoy my time here, but sometimes it seems that no matter how hard I try, I can’t change my mood.
    I miss everything from home and here I don’t have lots of friends. People are different and the two or three friends that I have don’t always talk to me like I wish they do.
    I’m also a very emotional person and I really need to feel affection, like hugs, and I told my host parents about this, but they replied that they don’t like that kind of contact, so I guess I will never receive the affect I need.
    I don’t know what to do bc for the first time I’m alone and I don’t know how to better the all situation. After I saw you blog I felt like you could really help me, so I hope you will.
    I don’t wanna go back to Italy (I came here with a scolarship and if I go back my parents will have to pay for everything and they don’t have money).
    I don’t wanna fail, but I feel like I’m already failing.
    I don’t wanna be sad and cry.
    I just wanna be the strong girl that everybody is expecting me to be.

  • Reply Paula Christof October 15, 2017 at 13:42

    Hey there! So I’m a german exchange student, currently living in Spain with a host family. I’ve been here for about 6 weeks and still have almost 4 months to go. I don’t know if you still check this site regularly but if you do, do you have any tips for homesickness? I do really like it here in Spain & my family is very nice, but i still feel like a guest and not really part of the family, does that make sense? Anyway, because of that, I miss my family in Germany a lot. Often times, I will call my mom, crying and begging her to let me go back home to Germany. But I also want to finish this and make it through the remaining 4 months. It’s just so so hard, especially with the language. Sorry for rambling and thanks in advance for your help!

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