A Travellerspoint blog

It's been a while...

I'm sorry, but I promise I will get better

View Homeless & Alkmaar & Class trip to the Hague & Day trip to Amsterdam & To Holland on erika.w's travel map.

I have been busy with school and getting used to life over here. I know that is no excuse, especially to the "blogmaster," Phil, Sr., but I will try to get better, now that I finally have my classes finalized and know my way around the city.

As penance, here are links to my photo albums on facebook. (I have a limited number of pictures I can upload directly to this site, so you will have to do a little more clicking if you want to see more.)

My first few days:

Pictures from a class fieldtrip to The Hague, the center for international peace and justice

Some pictures from the weeks of the Dutch Language and Culture course I took in Utrecht

Alkmaar, a small town in the North, and a Contemporary Art Museum in Amsterdam

My unfinished documentation of the different ways the Dutch ride bikes

My visits to Southern Netherlands (Maastricht) and Brussels

The pictures of the town I am staying in

I went to see the queen ride in a carriage to the Opening of Parliament

Bike rides to the areas around Leiden with Paul and my new friend Jessica

More real information and updates will follow soon, I promise. Hope this satiates your burning desire to know more about my life.

In brief, I am doing quite well. I like my classes, I'm keeping up with my homework, I am getting used to the weather although I sometimes still stubbornly wear flip flops, I love riding my bike even though the back wheel is a little crooked, I am in the process of planning big trips to other countries, and I am planning on going to Oktoberfest this weekend.

Posted by erika.w 13:34 Archived in Netherlands Tagged bicycle Comments (0)


Here at last...

semi-overcast 29 °C
View To Holland on erika.w's travel map.

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.
Bikes- everywhere
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.

Posted by erika.w 08:53 Archived in Netherlands Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)


I hope I got everything...

View To Holland on erika.w's travel map.

So, tomorrow I leave for the Netherlands to study abroad for the fall (a total of four and a half months). I am absolutely thrilled and excited and also quite scared. I have never been to Europe before and never lived anywhere but Sacramento and Irvine. There is so much paperwork involved and no person or form to make sure I have done everything right or packed everything or know what to expect. I have to do it all on my own, with the help of Paul, of course. but even with both of us being confident in our preparedness, but this weekend while we double checked everything we still discovered a few small set-backs that slipped through the cracks somehow. Although, to the best of my knowledge these things are or will be fully taken care of by my amazingly helpful and supportive parents, those things have made me feel unbelievably unprepared, even though I think I have everything.

But, I have my passport and my plane ticket (which was changed since this afternoon) so I know I will get to Europe. And if for some reason, my program doesn't let me in because of some form that no one told me about which had to be signed and certified by twelve different people and authenticated in 6 states or sealed by the secretary of state's lipstick print or something else as obscure, I know some people in Europe who might let us live with them for a while. (I am only kind of kidding about this.)

So, I will be traveling for about 15 hours tomorrow, the longest I have traveled in a plane. Still no contest to the two-day trips to Canada in the van, but an epic trip nonetheless. I have two books, a journal, ipod, laptop, and hopes for a good in-flight movie. I should be fine, right? I also am going to try to sleep as much as possible on the flight, to minimize sleepiness upon arrival (morning local time), but who knows how much I will actually be able to sleep.

When we arrive in Amsterdam, we will have about 24 hours to get to Utrecht. There we will do a 2 week Dutch Language and Culture Intensive before we go off to Leiden for our regular semester.

Who knows when I will be able to access internet or phones, but I will update everyone as soon as possible. (Also, everyone should get SKYPE, it's awesome.)

So, in conclusion, I am scared, and almost fully excited. I know the next 24 hours are going to be surreal, stressful and sleep-deprived, but I guess I am expecting it, so I will do my best if anything else comes my way.100_1719.jpg
This is me a few years ago in Solvang, CA; which is a mini Holland-type city. And in case any of you were wondering, yes I packed a lot of shoes, but no, none were this big.

Posted by erika.w 01:17 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (2)

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