I'm guessing one or two of you may be wondering if I disappeared or something like that in the past week... Essentially I did. Internet is my lifeline, and when it doesn't work... life becomes very stressful/frustrating. (Last night we had a man come over for 2 hours trying to fix our internet, and we still have problems with it - so he has to come back again today).
So since I last wrote, I have arrived in Tilburg, and become somewhat integrated into the Tilburg Student life. I took a train on Friday morning from Deventer to Tilburg, with my two giant suitcases and backpack. I was pretty worried about getting all that stuff off the train alright... Han told me to look out for a strong, handsome, rich Dutch man to help me with the suitcases.. (he said that Grandma's advice - "Watch out for those Dutch boys" - was hypocritical and wrong), but luckily I managed to get them off free of problems.
We were met at the train station by a group of ESN mentors. ESN - Erasmus Student Network, an international European student network, the mentors have been fantastic, they're helping us with everything.
After registration and stuff I was brought to my house - Kardinaal van Enckevoirtstraat 36.It's a pretty decent house, although it looks like the kitchen/bathrooms came straight out of the 70's.My room is in the attic, it's bigger than the rest, but for that I'm paying an extra hundred euros a month.The house is North of the train station, a really quick bike to the centre of the city, but about 20 minutes bike from the university.(My legs are being whipped into shape with all the cycling I've been doing back and forth to campus this week!)
I have four roommates right now, but one girl from Germany is leaving in a week or two.(She was studying here last term, and is just finishing her finals). The other girls are: Yuni, from South Korea, Helen from Germany (she's an international student, so here for her full degree), and Montse, from Barcelona.
After buying groceries, I went with Montse and the other U of A girls (Hanna, Erin and Natasha - although Natasha didn't come out for the whole night this time), to meet Rachel, a girl from Ontario who is staying here for this whole school year.There are two big residences, Verbs and Staps, which are comparable to Lister... (for any of you U of A students).Rachel took us to a party at Verbs, where she lives.Her floor is full of Spanish exchange students, and we spent the whole night playing Flip Cup - a drinking game where you have to... uh, flip a cup.J It was a fun night, but then Montse, Erin, Hanna and I had the challenge of biking each other home in the middle of the night, in a town that we'd didn't know at all, with only two bikes.Erin and I got honked at while riding double and got so flustered that we almost fell off the bike - it was a challenge.(Overall it took us one hour and 45 minutes to get everyone home.(It should have taken us each 20 minutes.)
On Saturday the U of A girls all went shopping for things like hangers and garbage cans for our rooms.After that we went to a Dutch club - Cafe Phillip - where we hung out with a Dutch football/soccer team that was from Deventer.Exciting stuff, but another late night.
Sunday ESN had arranged a welcome drink for all of the exchange students (140 in total), at Cafe Bolle.It was a good afternoon, and after drinks some of us went out for supper with Pieter - a UVT student that went on an exchange to U of A last term.(The other girls had met him already, but I hadn't because I missed the U of A pre-departure session).
Monday marked the beginning of welcome week.We had some receptions to attend, and received some important information about the campus.That evening I met up with Guido - the Dutch guy that my parents randomly met on a ferry in BC this summer.Ironically, even though all of the exchange students that I'm friends with live at opposite ends of the city from me, Guido lives only one block away.He lives in a frat house, with 12 other guys, and they have their own bar in their house - complete with full size kegs of Heineken on tap.Guido was really nice, and so were the other guys that live with him.I'm supposed to go to a frat party with them tonight at a bar in town.(Guido was appalled that I'd paid the university 100 euros for my bike, apparently I could've gotten one for ten or less some places).
Tuesday was a really busy day.We had workshops in the morning - including a crash course in Dutch (which made me realize that I definitely needed to try and move into a more advanced Dutch class this term - otherwise I'd spend most of the term reviewing stuff).Speaking of my Dutch, it's horrible right now.For the most part, I have few problems understanding people (although the Southern accent is a little different than what I'm used to), but I am a complete chicken when it comes to replying in Dutch.I always just answer in English, because I know that my grammar and sentence structure sucks.I feel like a French Immersion student talking to their teachers outside of class!
On my bike home from the university, I lost my earring on a busy road near the train station.I got off and spent a good five to ten minutes searching for it. I was beginning to get some weird looks from some traffic cops in the area, pacing back and forth on a street corner - when a car pulled over in the middle of the road.A guy jumped out and asked me in Dutch if I'd lost an earring, and when I replied, he jumped under a parked car and pulled out my earring... I was super surprised/grateful that he'd managed to see it while driving, and also quite satisfied that I'd understood his Dutch perfectly in my flustered state.That story seemed a lot more important than it does now that I've actually written it out, I swear.
I ran some errands, and then realized I had only ten minutes once I got home to change and then I had to bike all the back to campus for a session.On campus we met our mentor groups, groups of 14 with 3 Dutch mentors.Each week we'll get together with another mentor group for dinner, and one couple from the group will prepare a national dish for both groups for dinner.
We all went out in our mentor groups for supper at a restaurant on Tuesday night, and then afterwards we went to de Lamme Goedzak (The LG - the exchange student bar), for the rest of the night.(Apparently this is a Tuesday night tradition, and for that reason I didn't schedule any classes on Wednesday).It was a really fun night, although I can't believe we managed to cram all of the exchange students + 30 mentors into the tiny bar!
After yet another late night, I had to get up early to go to the class registration/immigration sessions at the university.My classes turned into a huge mess.Two got cancelled, and apparently I was never actually registered in the Dutch class, even though my transcript says that I am.So I had to change every single one of my classes, a very stressful and hectic day.Right now I'm signed up for International Communication, Spanish level C (An oral, advanced Spanish class, but unfortunately it's only worth half the credits of a normal class), Dutch Level II, (but not the intense level B course that I wanted - I got wait-listed for that), Philosophy of Science and Nature, and Dutch Culture-History.(I'm so happy I finally found a class that I might get history credits for!!!)I only have classes on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursday mornings.
Wednesday night I finally finished unpacking, and spent the majority of the night trying to get the internet working with that guy.And it was Yuni's birthday, so her friend brought over cake.Today I have a library/computer session, a city tour, and welcome reception by the mayor at city hall, a Dutch movie night, and then that frat party.Another busy day.And this weekend is the introduction camp held by ESN (it was 45 euros - but supposedly a really fun time), so I will have another crazy and exhausting weekend.Some of my classes start next week, but the language classes start the week after.Tot Ziens!