The memoirs are based on the many letters the author sent home to her family in the Netherlands from 1953 to 1955, during which she attended Vassar College as a foreign student and then continued on to graduate school in the fall of 1955. These letters, saved by the author’s father and found among his papers after his death in 1987, describe both her ordinary and extraordinary experiences. Coming from post-war Europe during its painful recovery and the economic problems of that period, she had very limited means and possessions. The letters describe her worries about money and finding warm clothes to get through the harsh winters, but they are also full of joy about the many wonderful opportunities and experiences offered to her. Throughout, she feels a strong responsibility and duty to her parents to keep them informed and is often concerned about how much of a burden she is to them even this far away. Just out of high school when she comes to Vassar College, she is almost immediately faced with what her future is going to be from then on, and she has to make some tough decisions all along the way which ultimately result in her becoming an American citizen, leaving behind her family and her country.