Sunday, February 6, 2011
I have been here for a week and half and already I have learned so much. I think this adventure is going to teach me a lot about who I really am, help strengthen my beliefs and values, and push me to step outside my comfort zone. I don't think I really thought this trip through when planning for it. I was focused on the adventure--seeing the world and meeting new people; that I over looked how difficult and trying it is going to be. Overall, I think so far I have adjusted pretty well and there is a lot more adjusting to come. First, adjusting to the time change was really easy. I think it really helped that we had an overnight flight so when we got here it naturally seemed like the morning rather than the middle of the night. I was kind of surprised at how many things are actually in Dutch. When talking to people about the trip, everyone kept saying that everyone speaks English. It is true that mostly everyone here does speak English but the signage and groceries and such are in Dutch because that is their language. Some things that are in English are still called different than what we would call it. An elevator here is a lift, a bath room is called a water closet (W.C.), and our class schedule is called a timetable. I am starting to learn my way around the city and how to read the bus and train schedules. But because we are all still learning our way around, we don't go any where by ourselves. I think that has been one of the hardest things to adapt to because I feel that back home I am pretty independent; I go shopping, get groceries, go work out, etc. all on my own but here we always go in a group, which I prefer to go by myself. I don't miss my car yet too much because the public transportation is pretty easy to use, but it does make you realize the cost of every trip. In the States, I never really thought much about driving places and how much it cost me until I would fill up my car, but here since I have to pay every time to use the bus I can always see money going out of my pocket. I did buy a strip card to help reduce the cost of the bus a little, but I would really like to buy a used bike so I can save even more. Normally a trip from the dorm and back from the city center cost 4 euros so about $5.50; with the strip card its only 2 euros. I have also had to get used to living in a dorm again since I have pretty much lived by myself since last June. It's nice that at least I don't have a roommate here so I can have some time to myself to study and just to take a break from everything. We are the only floor that does not have a toilet in our room. I really hate having to share a toilet; it is always so dirty and smells and the housing company doesn't provide us toilet paper so we each bring our own every time we go. One weird thing here is that not all public toilets are free; some of the time in stores and such you have to pay to use the toilet. Its not much; luckily I have only had to pay once at a department store and it was .25 cents but one place I saw was .70 cents which is almost a dollar in the US. I don't mind sharing the showers as much because they are decently clean, but its just annoying having to carry all your shampoo and everything down the hall, wear shower shoes, and learning when the showers are usually full. In the dorms, each floor shares four mini fridges between two kitchens. Since there is not much room in the fridge at one time, we go grocery shopping about every other day. Its different having to actually cook meals for super every night. Here, usually for breakfast I have some fruit and bread, for lunch a sandwich and chips, and then cook supper. They don't have as much pre-packaged food here. Usually, I would eat a hot pocket or something from the freeze section. I always make supper with my friend Emily; its easier to cook with two people. We have made chicken alfredo twice, hamburgers, breakfast burritos twice, and a frozen pizza cooked in a pan on the stove top. We want to make pancakes and grilled cheese but we are going to run out of ideas really fast. Another thing with the dorms, is that people here party all the time and of course, most of the time it is on our floor. I don't mind going to parties occasionally, but they just seem to go out all the time. People here also smoke a lot, so I might develop lung cancer while I am here. That's kind of an exaggeration, but my cloth always smell really bad after the bars and sometimes its gets really smoking that I need to leave and get fresh air. There is a guy on our floor who smokes pot, which stinks up our entire floor. Another thing is, that going to the bars here is expensive, because one the city center is too far to walk so you have your bus fare plus the alcohol. I would rather spend my money on trips! Remembering the conversion rate has been difficult. Its really easy to look at prices and see them in dollars; things seem comparable back home until I remember exchange rate. With everythingI think this trip is going to be really good for me and I can't wait to see how everything plays out.