Bikes, Bikes and more bikes!

Here I am sitting in my student room in Hoogeveldt reflecting on my crazy 2 weeks (well it seems a lot longer than that!) here in the Netherlands. I’d like to begin by saying that I am very much enjoying being here and I have meet some great people so far, which is always a good thing. I think the hardest part was the first night here, just after my family had left me. This was mainly because I had not yet met anyone and didn’t even have an internet connection to speak to people back home. But over the course of orientation that was soon gone and every day I’m starting to feel more and more at home. My room here is also looking a bit more gezellig than when I first moved in…it was extremely depressing at first.  However, I bought some flowers and have put a few things up so make it feel more like home so it can only get better!

Right, so let me tell you some of the things that have happened since my arrival in Nijmegen. The first Monday saw the start of the orientation week here at the university. Here we had the opportunity to meet our lovely mentors and mentor group. It was great to meet so many people who came from all over the place; it’s something that I have never really done before. So, after all of us had been introduced we headed to town in search of a bicycle which is something that would be hard to live without here now!  I was successful in finding a bike, but I’m still searching for a name for it… so any suggestions are greatly welcomed. Of course being British the whole daily cycling culture was completely alien to me.  I just found it weird how it seems as though every single person in Nijmegen rides a bike and how bike riders are so tolerated on the roads. Back home I think I have more chance of seeing Cheryl Cole than someone riding a bicycle. This may explain why I thought some of the houses were bike shops, when they were actually just houses with bikes parked outside of them!

With our mentor group we did various wonderful activities from visiting the major and the Valkhof museum to sports day… oh and the partying. And this was the perfect way to bond with our group and also get to know the other international students. The whole beer culture is still something that I will need to get accustomed to. This was clearly highlighted when I asked for a vodka and lemonade which apparently doesn’t exist in the Netherlands!

Another thing I love about Nijmegen is there are some great places to chill and enjoy lunch which I have been doing a lot since I have been here.  My lovely Swedish friend Johanna and I been trying to do as many as possible to see what ones are the best. Moving on to the Dutch cuisine I think it’s safe to say I have had a done it a slight justice. I mean I’ve already tried bitterballen (not quite sure what this is I have to say!), Ontbijtkoek and stroopwafels. But any person would probably agree with me when I say the best by far are the stroopwafels, in fact I am eating them right now as I talk to you, and I think they will take up most of my luggage when I fly back home too!

Of course I’m here to improve my Dutch, and as I was aware I knew speaking Dutch would be very hard. Of course as a native English speaker I was ignorant to the fact that most people HAVE to learn another language, which is English to come here.  It is therefore extremely hard to speak the language all the time, but I have been trying as much as possible to speak the language and it’s a lot easier when I am in public. For example I was in H&M queuing for the changing rooms and I was talking to a lady about how we liked each other’s clothes (simple things!).  But hopefully when we start uni next week the opportunity for this will improve and I’ll get to meet even more Dutch students. As far as my uni courses go I have chosen:

Dutch Culture from the Golden Age until the Present Day

Advanced Academic Writing

English as a World Language

Grammar and Translation

Deutsche Sprachpraxis, which focuses on German reading, speaking and writing skills. Although, this one will be especially hard as it is taught in Dutch and German.

Dutch Literature 3. This one focuses on modern Dutch and Flemish literature

So we will see how they go when we start next week, I know that it will be hard to get back to the studying mode after a break. But it will be nice to get some routine back and I have also joined the sports centre so will fit that in into my schedule too.  The facilities here are great and it only costs 14.50 Euros a month to join the sports centre which is so much cheaper than back home.

On one last note it would be uncharacteristic not to mention the weather here in Nijmegen, and it has been quite hot and sunny on most days. This, of course,  I did not expect when coming here so my choice of clothes has been a bit limited, definitely one of the hardest things to deal with since being here (I’m only joking) . But I promise you it gets better in the winter!

That was my short summary so far, until next time when I hopefully have something more interesting to say!

xxx

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Going Dutch!

Aside

Hi guys, just another Year Abroad blog to throw at you. My name is Sian Dolan, a student studying German with Dutch at the University of Sheffield. I’m splitting my year abroad (third year)  in two and going to university in the Netherlands and then doing a British Council teaching assistantship in Austria. So here is where I’ll hope you’ll take the time to follow my year abroad adventures 🙂

Well tomorrow is the big day, my year abroad finally begins. Like I always seem to say, where has this summer gone?!  It’s gone so fast that it feels like everything is such a last minute rush.  We have been building up to the year abroad ever since we started our degree and now it has finally come round.  I have been busy trying to get the last preparations done and also deciding what to pack (one of the things which I’m finding the hardest).  I’m sure for anyone who knows me; I always take too much whenever I go away. So today will be a tad bit stressful trying to make sure I’ve packed everything I ACTUALLY need. There will surely be something that I have forgotten, but I mean as long as it’s not something too important it won’t matter too much.

I will be studying at the Radboud University Nijmegen in The Netherlands until January and, although I’m excited I can’t help feel a little bit scared about moving out of the country for the first time ever.  But I know once I’ve settled in everything will be fine and I’m sure I’ll love it and being in Holland.

I’m quite lucky that my Mum and sister wanted to come to Holland to see me off, which means I’ll arrive a few days earlier than I need to. Of course it also means I get another suitcase to put some of my things in, which can only be a good thing right? We thought it would be a good idea to stop off in Amsterdam for a night before we travel down to Nijmegen, which makes perfect sense as we are flying to Amsterdam anyway.  So hopefully we will get a tiny bit of sightseeing done, but if not I’m only 1 hr 30 mins from the big city when I’m living in Nijmegen so I’m sure I’ll get plenty of opportunity to visit Amsterdam while I’m living in Holland anyway.

I’ll arrive in Nijmegen 16th August after the visit to Amsterdam and hopefully I’ll be able to get the keys for my room. I’m staying in the student complex called Hoogeveldt- I’ve been told that this is the biggest student complex at the University. Being able to stay in student halls meant that I didn’t have the worry of trying to find private accommodation. I know I’ll have to do that when I go to Austria in February. Also, from a social point of view it means I get to stay which other students of a similar age. Although I can’t choose who I’m staying with, as a student of Dutch there is always a hope that I’ll be staying with actual Dutch students. But I guess we will see how that one goes!

The university offers an orientation week which starts 18th August, where we will take part in lots of activities getting to see more of the city and the University.  What is great is we have all been put in a group of about 12-15 other Erasmus students, so it will be good to meet other international students who are in the same position as me.

….Well I guess I better get back to my packing. Until next time, where  hopefully I’ll be feeling more settled and also managed to not fall off my bike!

Dag!

xxxxx