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!