This blog entry was submitted by Madeleine Lange, who studied abroad in the Netherlands.
“Well, we made it. Not so much you, and more so me, but YAY US. It’s the 4th day of this American girl living in the Netherlands, or Holland as the locals prefer to call it. I know what you’re thinking, wow she’s already so cultured- please hold your applause until the end. I am currently writing this from a gem of a coffee shop called Barista Cafe. I know, I know, the last sentence is so cliche, I’m rolling my eyes at myself. Buuuuut the coffee is great and the wifi plentiful, so it’s a pretty solid find. It’s also an 8-minute walk from my apartment, which is just far enough for me to justify ordering my usual pretentious latte. Anyway, as much as I’m sure you’re enjoying the play by play of how I feed my caffeine addiction, let me lay out what I’ve learned so far:
- The Dutch are as friendly as everyone says they are. They also speak impeccable English and are super polite. I cannot tell you the relief I felt when the cashier at the grocery store flawlessly transitioned from speaking Dutch to English upon seeing my panic-stricken American face.
- The Dutch don’t play around with their love of dairy. I kid you not, the local market I shop at (shout out to Albert Heijn) is 30% cheese, yogurt, and milk. And it’s delicious.
- Eggs aren’t refrigerated here. I know this is more of a general European thing, but it still threw me for a loop. My only advice is to adjust your cooking times accordingly, otherwise, you’ll end up with super over hard eggs, which to me is a travesty.
- Bikes are everywhere, as far as the eye can see. Bike lanes are built into the sidewalks on busy streets and man are they utilized. Everyone from businessmen to mothers and their children ride their bikes everywhere, and honestly, it’s pretty awesome.
- Jet lag is no joke. After reading a dozen or so articles, each claiming to have to cure for jet lag, it became apparent there was only one tried and true way to beat it: suck it up and get on their schedule ASAP. Supposedly the rule of thumb is one day of recovery for every time zone cross (Austin to The Hague is 7). So ideally this little parade of exhaustion is already halfway over…hooray!
- Living in a country by yourself, in the beginning, is tough. Especially when you fly in several days before everyone else. Going from your routine at home where you are surrounded by your friends and family to living across the Atlantic by yourself within the span of a week is daunting. Good news is that it’s only temporary. Orientations begin next week and with it come new people to befriend and try my material on. Until then I’m going to continue exploring the city and testing the limits of which places will take my Visa card.”