Here at last...
05.08.2008 - 06.08.2008 29 °C
So, we arrived! Safe and with all of out luggage. It was not the smoothest trip, but it was successful.
First off, we got to the airport really early, which was good because our big suitcases were over the 50lb. limit. I had time to rearrange my stuff into a duffel bag I had brought so I didn't have to pay the extra money, however, I did have to lug around an extra bag yesterdsay, which was fairly difficult on the narrow cobblestone sidewalks.
The flight to Houston was fine. From there, since we only had a 50 minutes layover (because of the flight change), we walked and moving side-walked as fast as we could to our next gate, which was the third farthest gate from where we started. When we arrived, we had to check in and get seat assignments since we didn't have any assigned because continental switched us so late. After a brief exchange and some miscommunication we established that Paul did indeed have a seat and that we would not have to wait until the next morning. We ended up switching seats with a very nice kid so we could sit next to each other (a very nice thing since those seats are so small you have to invade someone else's personal space just to get comfortable. The flight was just under 10 hours. I watched a terribly edited version of "What Happens in Vegas" which was abismal and then listened to "The Leatherheads" in French while I was trying to sleep. I got a decent amount of sleep, but also got airsick. Not fun.
When we arrived in the airport, we had to take the train to Utrecht, the city we will be in until the 22nd. That was also a little confusing, but everyone was very helpful. We finally found this nice hostel I found online and napped before getting dinner.
Trying to find food was interesting because we don't know any Dutch that would have helped us there. You can pretty much count on everyone to speak English, but I still didn't want to accidently order the some exotic fish dish which would not have been very happy in my still unsettled stomach. So we walked around for a while and stopped at this small bar/restaurant that had hamburgers on the menu.
This morning we made our way, by taxi, to University College Utrecht. We had a brief introduction and then were taken to our housing. It is in this really modern building, however, right now I am listening to sheep from across the little field right next to the building.
Tonight we go to dinner with the whole group from all of the UC's. And then tomorrow we have a little orientation. Friday is a city tour and then Monday, the dutch classes start.
Everything here is still a little out of my comfort zone and the anxiety has not fully gone away, but it will be very nice to start meeting people from the UC's who are in the same situation.
Interesting things I have seen so far:
Light pollution - the clouds over cities at night are lit from below and look orange
Meditation Space - In the airport
Reactions to Paul's Obama shirt - four people commented on it and two started conversations with us (a random guy on the train and the restaurant owner/bartender where we had dinner.
dogs- people will walk them without leashes or doggy-bags
the tallest point in Utrecht (and possibly in Holland) - It is the steeple of a church that fell down during a tornado. It is huge compared to everything else around it. It is 752 years old, according to our waiter last night.
English - Everyone is happy to speak English to you. The woman who checked us in at the hostel jokingly warned us that learning dutch is bad for your throat, because of all of the guttoral sounds. She also said she wishes she could un-learn Dutch.