Living the American Dream and Then Some: A Dutch Exchange Student’s Experience
Sem Mostert, a student from the Netherlands, wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream of coming to the United States. What he found at Anderson University fulfilled that dream beyond his expectations.
Mostert’s impressions of American life were shaped a lot by what he saw in television and movies. His father had traveled to the U.S. a couple of times, further heightening his interest. Mostert considered working to save up enough to travel there. A senior majoring in logistics at HZ University of the Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, Mostert explored the possibilities of studying abroad in the U.S.
“I had the idea I could go there and then I clicked on the American flag,” said Mostert, noting that Anderson University came up as a partner institution. Though he hadn’t heard of Anderson, South Carolina, Mostert applied to study at Anderson University and came at the beginning of the Spring 2022 Semester.
Mostert, who attends his family’s church in Nieuwvliet, located near his hometown of Oostberg, was attracted to the idea of studying at a Christian university and taking Christian courses—something he couldn’t do in the Netherlands—so he took Christian Worldview and Contemporary Issues classes. He also took management and marketing classes through the AU College of Business.
When he arrived in South Carolina, Mostert experienced hospitality—one of Anderson University’s Four Pillars of Distinction.
“The first thing that I noticed here was how friendly the people were. I got in… I think at 10 p.m. at the airport and people from a church nearby, they drove specifically for me, like an hour, to pick me up. I don’t know how many people in the Netherlands would do that for a complete stranger,” said Mostert, who was moved by the ways people genuinely lived out their Christian faith, cared for him, and prayed for him.
In the Netherlands, Mostert explains, there is a large and increasing population of atheists and agnostics. Through research on his home country, Mostert observed that the majority of the population in fact has no belief in God.
“As far as I know, I’m the only Christian in my class in my school in the Netherlands. On my soccer team last year… I was the only Christian,” said Mostert. “It's different in the Netherlands, that’s for sure.”
“When I got here on campus, on a Saturday morning when I went down into the cafeteria, I saw on nearly every table an open Bible or people praying for each other. I was like ‘Wow, this is a place that really exists. People are open about their faith and they want to share it because they know they have these kinds of experiences and they want to share them with other people and to talk with them and understand them,’” said Mostert.
An unforgettable part of his experiences at Anderson University was Christian fellowship beyond what he had experienced before.
“In the Netherlands, I go to a regional church. There are maybe 50 people on average on a Sunday. So I’ve never really been to a place where a lot of Christians get together. Going to BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministries) for the first time, hundreds of people are there together and all of them are my age. That felt amazing,” he said.
It didn’t take long for Mostert to make friends and feel a sense of belonging and community.
“We went to Lake Hartwell and Lake Keowee as well. We went to Myrtle Beach. The common thing that’s returning every time through those is ‘doing that with other people,’ and that’s been the most amazing thing,” Mostert said, adding that he keeps in touch with friends he made since he returned to the Netherlands.
Mostert also appreciates the Anderson University Center for Global Engagement for taking a lot of the guesswork out of coming from overseas as an exchange student. He appreciates the valuable assistance from the center’s director, Ann Themistocleous, and the staff.
“The moment I got here, they guided me through everything. Even when I was still in the Netherlands, I had a video call with Ann and she helped me to get my F1 visa and my insurance and everything was settled,” Mostert said. “I was 18 when I was going here for the first time and I had never been to America before. I actually never traveled on my own to another country before. To do such a big step on your own—that would have been really hard, so I’m super happy with all of the help I got… AU’s Center for Global Engagement does everything they can to help the international students.”
Mostert, who is in his senior year, is praying for God’s direction for the future.
“I discovered that I’m more passionate about talking with people and talking about people’s faith, so I feel like I may do another study after I finish college in the Netherlands—hopefully somewhere around Christian Studies,” he said. “I will just go wherever God needs me to go or where He wants me to go… If He has a plan, he’ll fulfill it. I just have to be a servant for Him and see wherever He wants me to be. But if it was up to me, then I would live in this area.”
In November, 2022, Mostert returned to the U.S. to attend the wedding of Sam Davidson and Nicole Tabares, two of the many friends he made while at Anderson.
And Mostert also got to experience his first Thanksgiving ever.