Evening! First of all, I do apologise for my cheesy title but it is how I actually feel! Well, in three days I will be back in the UK after four months for my two weeks of Christmas. That thought has been enough to distract me all week, despite having a stupid exam. Nevertheless the idea of sitting in front of a fire, with endless cups of teas and the opportunity of a proper country walk and pub seem like the closest I’ll ever get to heaven ( I have been a student for too long). My time so far in the Netherlands is proving to be a great experience but there comes a time when you just need to go home for a while and be surrounded by familiar people and places. Also, on a more selfish note it means I can have my hair re-coloured, buy more clothes & take over SKY TV, I can’t wait! It will be so nice to see all my family and friends from back home, it seems like forever. I am quite disillusioned with how quickly August to December has gone- it’s scary because it means that I am half way through my year abroad. I have just three weeks left in Nijmegen after Christmas and then I will be teaching in Austria.
Anyway, It may have only been two weeks since I last spoke to you all, nevertheless it has been a VERY busy, but equally enjoyable two weeks. Two weekends ago I went to Den Bosch (Or Hertogenbosch officially) to do some Christmas shopping with one of my Dutch friends. It is a small city, not too far from Nijmegen- I think it was roughly 25 minutes by the train. I met my friend at the other end, and we wondered round the shops and markets. The city conventionally had the classic canal situated at the heart of it. The sun was also shining and I managed to make a great start with my Christmas presents for the family. However, I think the rest of the presents will have to be bought online because believe it or not I would like to take some of my things home for Christmas!
Last weekend I took my first trip to Belgium visiting Brussels and Antwerp. I went with my friend Lucy who is also studying in Nijmegen and we stayed in Brussels on Friday night in a lovely Belgian house, slightly outside the center of Brussels. The following day we headed to Antwerp, to meet two of my friends, Maisie and Stephanie. I had a good feeling about Antwerp it was a beautiful city, even though it did rain, it had such a festive atmosphere. I also had the first opportunity to drink my first glass of Glϋhwein, which is definitely one of the best things about Christmas. We spent the day wondering round the touristy places and Christmas markets etc etc. The evening was spent in a nice Italian restaurant and then later we ended up in your standard Irish Pub. But we were all pretty tired from travelling, so headed to bed early as we would be getting up to go to Brussels the next morning.
Brussels was equally as nice for a tourist coming to visit, and we explored the Grand Palace and the surroundings nice and leisurely. What was strange to me, as a language student, is how you can come from a city like Antwerp where the majority will speak to you in Dutch and then you go to Brussels and everyone will speak French. Of course I knew this before, and I have experienced a similar sort of thing when I went to Luxembourg- I just find it hard to get my head around which is probably because I’m British and we just speak English. So as a whole Belgium was a great trip and I personally liked the country. I had heard some mixed things about it, especially Brussels, but my first visit was great and I think it’s a place you have to go to if you are in Europe (and they have the best chocolate).
It is also the time where we are beginning to say goodbye to everyone as some people will not be coming back after Christmas. I hate this part because the moment you settle in and meet friends, you have to say goodbye and move to another place. But we had the Farewell ball last weekend where I go to see a lot of my international friends from my time here, and I also have a few Christmas meals and gatherings this week to look forward too!
But I shall leave you now. That was my brief update on the Year Abroad & the next time you will hear from me I will be typing from the comfort of my home 🙂 I wish you all a Merry Christmas & A Happy New year, I hope it’s a good one for you all- and for those who I won’t see in the New Year Good Luck!