Born and raised in The Netherlands, Michelle Berenst left the bikes and cheese behind to study hotel and tourism management at New York University. She is the new fall intern at Bonjournal, where she is putting her creativity and enthusiasm to good use. In between classes, Michelle loves to cook (and eat), learn new languages, and explore the city.
What lead you to want to study in NYC?
Ever since I was ten years old, I have wanted to study hotel management so when the time came to pick a college, I at least knew what to major in. The travel industry is one I enjoy on a personal and professional level, so I wanted to make sure that my college career would not be boring. NYC has so much to offer for the hospitality industry that I get to do so much more than read in a book about hotels, restaurants, and event spaces; I actually get to see them. NYC is the best place to be for tourism and it is also a great time of my life to be here. Now that I am young and full of energy and enthusiasm, there is something to explore every day. I change up my studies by going to a free concert or exploring one of the many museums. It has given me the option to make me who I want to be and push my limits.
What’s it like to be an international student living in NYC?
This has always been considered a melting pot and although cliché, it is definitely true. There are so many different people and cultures here, it makes it fun being international. Every other student at NYU has a surprising background and all of them have been very interested in mine. It is cool to meet people from completely different worlds and here it all comes together as you walk from China Town to Little Italy to Little Ukraine. New York is a place where no one has to feel out of place and I feel that although I might not be an American, I am definitely a New Yorker, all my Dutchness included.
What are your plans after you graduate?
I would love to see the world and just wander around the most beautiful places on earth, but yet I also want to make a career for myself (and a living). I hope to stay in New York for maybe a year getting some hotel experience, as this market is completely different from the rest of the world, and then open myself up to the possibilities of where life can take me. I would love to stay in America and explore more areas, but I am also perfectly content going back to Europe and testing some of the Mediterranean countries for the good life.
Do you have a favorite place that you’ve visited, and why?
Although I can’t really pick a favorite place (they are all so different), I have to say I loved Cape Town! I had never seen anything like it and it was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had. From helping out at a local school in Manenberg to going up the Table Mountain to visiting Khayelitsha, every day was a complete surprise. I would have to pick it as my favorite because it was so unlike what I know and am used to, that it was just a fantastic opportunity to go. But Bali makes a very close second!
What’s your favorite travel tip?
Get lost! There is no way like seeing a place than not having a purpose and not running from A to B. Look around you (and in New York, look up!) and see the little places where the locals go; where the moms meet for coffee, the students study, and the children play. Try to really immerse yourself into the culture and than you really find out what a place is made of.