I can say that have officially lived in Leiden for over a week now. It has felt like so much longer than a week, and it feels like I can call this place home for now. It has taken some time to adjust, and I know that I am still in the process of adjusting. I now know how to say hello and thank you in dutch (great progress, I know). But there are still some struggles, like going to the grocery store. Sophia and I went to go get some simple grocery essentials, and we realized knowing dutch would be handy in buying food. We went to go buy pancakes and after got them we realize that everything on the box was in dutch. So you can imagine the long line of directions I had to type into google translate. I have become really good at making toast about three times a day and pasta has become it’s own food group.
One thing Holland is known for is stroopwafels, one of the best things anyone will every try. When I was asking my friends who had studied here before what to try they said that their favorite thing here was a stroopwafel McFlurry from McDonalds. It was one of the best ice creams I have tasted and definitely will not be my last. I have tried so much food in the past week and all of it has been incredible. I still can’t believe that one week has gone by.
This week has consisted of lots of milestones. I bought a bike. Even though this was probably a very dangerous decision, my bike suits me in every way. It is floral and even has a bell! Riding it is kind of scary and learning all the bike rules is a very demanding task. You can’t ride on sidewalks, but then on some sidewalks you can. You can’t ride down one street, but you can on the next one. Complicated, but fun. It’s amazing all the places you can go and see on a bike. So far, having all my friends here has been an experience in it’s own. We have become a little family.
Starting classes and meeting new people is always exciting. My school is very small. It only has around 400 people that attend the school. It’s so crazy sitting in a class with people from Cyprus, Turkey, Dubai, Tanzania, Egypt and so many other places. These people speak 5 different languages and have grown up all over the world. I feel so fortunate having this opportunity to see what the world has to offer. It opens your eyes to understanding how much the world has to offer and how small the U.S. really is. My professors are from all over the world. One of my professors spoke in front of the UN, he was presented an award from Al Gore and has two doctorate degrees. When I sit in class, I just try and soak up as much culture as I can. Even though starting classes and meeting all the new people was fun, being in class and working was not. I have to keep reminding myself that I actually came here to go to school and that I am not on a four month vacation. As a week passes by, and as the end of a second week comes even quicker, I can’t help but smile. All I feel is joy.