Published: January 28th 2012January 27th 2012
So I left Calgary at 3.35pm Mountain Standard Time. My parents dropped me off - both of them, since they couldn't decided between them who would drop me off (cute, right?). My mom cried at the security check and watched me until she couldn't see me anymore... she's so sweet. :)
We arrived in Amsterdam at 8am their time (midnight Calgary time). We all filed off the plane and headed to customs/passport control/baggage check. Can I tell you how efficient Amsterdam Schipol is?! The part that took the longest was waiting for my suitcase. Everything else was a breeze!
After I grabbed my bags, I headed to the far end of the airport where the train station is located. Okay, that's a lie. It wasn't really that far. It was pretty much right outside the arrival gate. So I found a ticket station and bought my ticket to UtrechtCentraal, and the hardest part of this was counting out my change in Euros. He told me that if I ran, the next train left in four minutes and I could catch that one - and I did, no problem!!
So I rode the train to Utrecht, feeling very accomplished. I had managed the first step, I was on the right track! I arrived at UtrechtCentraal and pulled out the directions I had brought - walking directions to my hostel in the city centre. It was about 2.8kms, and I figured it was the perfect way to see the city for the first time!
JUST KIDDING!! Apparently, they don't feel the need to label their streets clearly here, and I was beyond lost. So I wandered my way back to Centraal Station and found an information desk so that I could ask for a taxi. The wonderful gentleman there started giving me directions until he realized I was blinking at him in utter incomprehension. Taking pity on me, he walked me to the taxi loop, where another wonderful gentleman who looked like Dutch Vin Diesel drove me to my hostel.
The hostel is pretty great, and that's coming from someone who doesn't really love the hostel life. I got my own clean sheets, all the food and WiFi is included, all my valuables are locked up in a locker with a padlock, and the guy here found me bus directions to the U.
When I got to the U, I managed to find the HU building where orientation was taking place (after walking past it the first time by accident) and found rougly 100+ students wandering around. I asked the nearest person to me what I had missed - and found that I had maanged to meet a huge group of Canadians. Two of them are from Concordia, while three of them are all from Carleton and staying at the hostel with me.
We had a quick presentation about rainy Holland (which was quite sunny) and about the Erasmus Student Network, an organization that plans parties and outings for all the international students. They told us all about Introduction Day, which would be the following day. Then we are some (delicious) lunch - cheese and bread, typical Dutch fare. Next, I met with Henk from the Faculty of Law & Society (FMR), who gave me my schedule, a tour of the buildings where my classes are and the campus itself. All the Spanish exchange students who make up the majority of the Social Work program were missing for some unknown reason, so the only other person there was Ilona, a girl from Turku, Finland.
It was a ridiculously long and exhausting day that culminated in me drinking Belgian beers with a Canadian and two Austrians, and learning in the process that Austrians learn everything they know about Canada from Robin on How I Met Your Mother, love YouTube and make constant "your mother" jokes.
So far it's been busy. Homesickness only sets in at night, when I'm lying in my tiny plastic bed in the hostel. I know I'll feel better once I move into my apartment, unpack my things, make myself a home in Holland, but for now it's just a lot to handle all at once.
But on a positive note, my campus is amazing and I can't wait for Introduction Day!