Monday, January 5, 2015

The Netherlands Adventures: Day 1 and 2

I want so badly to crawl into bed and pass out but I want to capture these first few days in words now. before the newness slips away. Before the overwhelming, crazy culture shock stops feeling so shocking and overwhelming. I want to get in words the feelings and thoughts swirling around in my jet lagged head before I experience another day.

The words. I cannot find the perfect string of words to capture exactly how I am feeling. I feel like my Dutch hosts as they try to find the word in English to communicate what they are thinking in Dutch. Except Google Translate cannot assist as perfectly in this scenario. I feel tired, mostly. However, I feel excited, eager, anxious, happy, joyful and as I am spending the first night in place I will call home for the next 3 weeks, I feel content. 

We arrived in Amsterdam at 8 am yesterday (2 am back home) and hit the ground running. We went to a typical tourist location, which I cannot remember the name. We sampled cheese, stood on top of windmills and went to a museum our professor compared to Hershey Chocolate World, except there were no singing cows. I really did enjoy it but as one of my Dutch hosts said, "That's cliche." There were free cheese samples though and with that I was entirely content.

We stayed the night in Amsterdam, which was comparable to an American city in some ways, although in other ways it was an entirely different world. You immediately realize you are no longer in the infamous Messiah College bubble when the door to the hostel has a sign warning us against cocaine, because it may actually be white heroin. We walked through the red light district which had girls on sale in windows with men gawking, yelling at and buying them. My heart broke as I listened to a Dutch student explain that 80% of these girls are forced to be there and it is near impossible to save them from it. However, We went to the Hillsong United song- which is located in a night club. we experienced a night where there are people still claiming the name of Jesus over Amsterdam. It was a whirlwind of new, different, and overwhelming. 

This morning I begrudgingly woke up and packed up. Two of us, myself included and a Dutch student traveled by train to Ede where we will spend the next 3 weeks. The other students traveled by car and met us there. We had orientation classes at CHE, a Christian college. Which are very different than in the US in the sense that the students talk through the whole class, which does not offend the professor at all. We then broke into project groups to begin working on our first assignment. If you think that group projects are difficult, try working on group projects with students from three different cultures. 

After our classes we got to pick up our own bicycle, the main mode of transportation in The Netherlands. If you know me, my coordination, my sense of direction and my luck you're already laughing at the thought of me getting around on a bike. Next, we got a tour of the academic building and I remember exactly 1 percent of what he showed us. That one percent being the location of the Starbucks (again, if you know me at all you are not at all surprised) 

Finally after a full day of newness- we did the one thing  I had been anxious to do, meet our student hosts. I am staying with six Dutch girls in a cozy little house about 15 minutes (biking distance) from CHE. The girls are all sweet, funny, sarcastic and welcoming. They showed me around their house, ending in my little, cozy room on the top floor. They have my room decorated super cute and with the same color scheme as my room back home in my apartment (and they had no clue) So basically it is a sign that I am in just the right spot. 

The first night with 6 strangers was not at all as awkward was you would imagine. They laughed at me through my first wobbly pedals of the bike and as I butchered the Dutch pronunciation of their names. We sat around the dinner table and had polite dinner conversation... actually we discussed the meaning and level of offensiveness in Dutch and American swear words. We played a game which in English means 'all cards on the table' which is a get to know you game. We talked deep, we laughed, they made me try to pronounce the questions in Dutch and then we laughed some more. I feel right at home. 

I am exhausted, it is all so new, foreign, overwhelming and I am sure I am forgetting important details of the first two days here. Everything is just so new. I have a new school, a new house, six new roommates and new assignments. For the moment, it feels like I will be here a long time. In reality I am just dipping in and out of this rich, very different culture. My world is growing and I am changing. I am anxious to see how I grow and change over these next 3 weeks.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed reading you blog. Have a great time. You'll do fine on the bike... it doesn't have reverse.