A Travellerspoint blog

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Starting from the most recent...

From the Christmassy times here:

My trip to Prague to visit Carol:
and Part 2:



Cinque Terre:


Posted by erika.w 03:34 Comments (0)

Less than 1 month...

but it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

snow 3 °C

So I have not written much lately because 1) I am keeping a personal handwritten journal more, and 2) although I was never good about writing here in the first place, I don't think anyone is actually reading this, so I don't feel like I am disappointing anyone. But that being said, I have less than one month left and last night I had a dream that it was my last night here, and that was really sad. So because I have recently reached this point where I am really starting to realize lots of things about myself and to kind of freak out since I am realizing what a limited time and opportunities I have left, I want to try to write something small everyday. But, again, don't hold me to that...

But yesterday I went to this town called Delft, which is famous for the hand-painted blue and white pottery. And after a small tour of one of the factories, Paul, my friend Jessica, and I made our way to the town center by following lots of children and then a boat that carried Santa's (in Dutch he is called Sinterklaas) helpers. We found a town square with a little Sinterklaas festival with lots of people collected to watch Santa's helpers, and his main helper, Black Pete, sing with the kids and get ready for Sinterklaas to arrive (their myth has him arriving by boat from Spain). After the kids, and adults had sang a few songs, none of which I understood, they were to yell "Sinterklaas" three times and then he would appear. I know it sounds made up, but when everyone yelled Sinterklaas the third time and turned arround to see his parade coming into the Square, it started snowing. It was amazing an by far the most stereotypically festive thing I have ever experienced.

Although the Santa story is mostly the same, there are some interesting differences. One is that Black Pete and his other helpers are black (this either comes from their skin color of from coming down the chimney, which Santa doesn't do, I have read both) so all of the people portraying Sinterklaas' helpers and many children who were dressed up like them were in black face. A very surprising thing to see coming from the States, but a very common thing here. The also passed out "kruidnoten" which are little cinnamon cookie/candy things.

After the festival, a nice cup of hot chocolate and making a 1 foot tall snowman, we explored the town some more. We found a windmill which allowed people to walk around in the inside, which I have done before, but this was much better. The other windmill I have been in is a museum; this one is still being used to grind grain into flour. We got to see everything turning, though no grinding, and talk to the guy who volunteered there. We learned all about it from him, which was much more interesting than the plaques at the Molen De Valk Museum.

Today I will be doing homework and trying to finish everything that I am behind on and finish my two assignments for the rest of my time here. Then all I will have left is one final paper and two finals. Wish me luck.

Also, if anyone actually is reading this, please let me know, I would love some reassurance that this is not just for me.

Posted by erika.w 03:06 Archived in Netherlands Tagged events Comments (0)


yes, I am actually studying here

So, because I got a lot of my school requirements done ahead of time, I had a lot of freedom in picking classes here. So now I am taking really fun and interesting classes. I am taking a Music Class, an Anthropology Class, and a history class.

The history class is an American History class, which is nice because I am already really familiar with all of the things we are talking about, and can try to focus on the European perspective of history. Unfortunately, the only lecturer we have had so far (it will change soon) has very little personality and spends to much time talking about meta-history. Although we do have 3 lectures devoted to American politics and the election and already had a guest lecturer talk about the impact of political blogging on politics. Also, it skips over a lot of events and the whole grade is based on the final exam (which could be a good or bad thing).

My Cultural anthropology class is about Information Technologies, technological development projects and the social implications of technology in society. It is really interesting since it is all stuff that I never knew anything about. We have learned about surveillance and the facial recognition software used at the Beijing Olympics (yes, it's real!), and the OneLaptopPerChild project in developing countries (www.laptop.org). (I thought it would be really cool for an elementary school to raise money and donate/buy laptops with their "give one, get one program.") We also talked about techno-fear and all of the movies, rumors, etc. abut how new technologies will kill you, make you have seizures, or get you in contact with the dead. All very interesting stuff. At the end of the class, I have to come up with my own Development project proposal, so if you have any ideas, let me know.

My favorite class though is my World Music class (I have only had 2 classes so far, though). We are going to learn about all different types of world music from specialists. On Tuesday we did an Indian singing workshop. We all had to sit on the floor with out our shoes and she explained about Indian ragas (a type of mode, for you music people) and we got to sing along with her as she played a tanpura. We also get to do an overtone singing workshop, we will get to play a Balinese gamelan, and we get a flamenco demonstration. And most of our homework is listening to different types of world music and identifying different elements in them.

In other news, I got sick on Sunday but I am mostly better now and my bike's back wheel got bent last week and I am just about to go take it to the repair shop (which has been closed since last Thursday) and pay for repairs on it which could cost more than my bike did.

Posted by erika.w 05:38 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Your Address

I want it...

So, I am finally settled and know how to use the post office here, and now I would like your addresses. If you would like a nice letter in the mail telling you how much I miss you, a quick postcard, or a lovely Christmas card, please either email me your address, or leave it on a comment on this entry (if you don't mind the whole world knowing where you live). My email is erikaweinheimer@gmail.com, in case you didn't know.

(And yes, I realize that this would have been a good thing for me to get before I left and to bring with me, but I didn't so I am dealing with it now, almost two months after I arrived.)

Posted by erika.w 14:28 Comments (0)

I went to Oktoberfest

Interesting people and absurd amounts of beer

overcast 15 °C

Since last minute train tickets and lodging in Munich were either too expensive or impossible to find, a friend of mine (from the Language and Culture class) decided to rent a car and drive there and sleep in the car. He invited Paul and I to go with him and another one of our friends. It was amazing.

Oktoberfest is just like a huge carnival with rides, games, souvenirs, delicious food; just with a disproportionate amount of beer garden. Although I thought it would be some sort of drunken debauchery the whole time, my experience was much more mellow than I expected. More like everyone is drunk enough not to worry about meeting new people or talking to people they don't know. So much fun.

So the best part was meeting and talking to all of these different people from different places. Here is a little outline:

Saturday morning (in line trying to get into the tent):
-America and British: both had very jobs in the financial business (and had been on vacation since before things started crashing). The American (from Indiana) was a stock trader in the pits in Chicago and had traveled so much that the he had filled his passport and almost filled the supplementary pages. They came dressed in Lederhosen that they had just purchased and planned to return to get their money back. Their plan was foiled, or should I say soiled, when the guy from Chicago peed his pants. He wasn't trying to run to the bathroom, didn't try to hide it, but just stood there, in a very crowded line of people and peed.
-Two Americans working in Kuwait: They were really fun and very nice, and relatively normal. Craig and Michelle. They reminded me a lot of people I know.

Saturday (sitting outside the tents in a beer garden):
Four Germans- Two from Munich, the others were at Oktoberfest for the first time. Not all Germans do the Oktoberfest thing, and even then, not all of them go to Munich. It is a pretty regionally thing. And all of the people dressed up in Lederhosen and Drendls, of which there were plenty, wear them only for Oktoberfest. Also, I want some lederhosen. Anyway, when we sat down with these Germans, one of them was already not feeling well and it was only about noon. Throughout the few hours we were with them he started to feel better, but another one of them passed out on the table. And yet another one, when I found out he was on facebook and asked him to write down his name for me, struggled for about ten minutes before handing me my notebook back with his name half-written and scratched out four times and then his illegible email address written out once. He had a very hard time writing his name.

some delicious food and a few more layers of clothes later:
Saturday night (different beer garden):
-Two Irish men- awesome, perverted, and had tons of dirty jokes.
-A stag party (Bachelor Party) of British guys from Nottingham. They all dressed up in pin-striped suits, ties, suspenders, and bowler hats (their interpretation of the British equivalent of Lederhosen). The groom-to-be, Brent, made it very clear that his had was at a "jaunty angle." Very fun guys. I had two songs sang to me, got to wear the jauntily-angled hat, and got the business card of one of the friends who wanted to know if my older sister would be interested in dating "a slightly overweight, but very muscular middle-aged British man."

Sunday Morning(started drinking beer out of Liter mugs at about 9:30am):
-French George and his father: The didn't speak much English, but they were very nice and offered to show us around Paris, when we visit.

We didn't get to see much of Germany on the way there, since we drove all night, but on the way back, we stopped in Nurnberg briefly just to see the Zeppelin Grandstand. It was huge and quite interesting to be there and think about what went on there and who stood where you were standing. (I will hopefully get to see more of Nurnberg when I visit the Dietz family at a TBD date). We parked and slept in Frankfurt, and then stopped (also briefly) in Koln to see the famous cathedral there. We got to see the end of a service, which was beautiful and had the most amazing sound quality on the organ music at the end. Then we climbed the 500+ steps to the top of the tower, which was also amazing.

On the way back we got to stop by Maastricht and see some friends from the Language and Culture Class that we spent a few days with before moving to Leiden.

Overall: amazing weekend!

(Pictures will be up soon)

Posted by erika.w 11:18 Archived in Germany Tagged events Comments (0)

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