My free week completely flew past me, but definitely not without some good adventures and memories added to my Amsterdam story. It’s just about time to start classes and I had two introduction meetings this week, one for the Faculty of Science and another for the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies. Both programs are in Science Park, a portion of Uva that is east of the city, and about a 40 minute bike from my apartment. Am I super thrilled about that? Not exactly. What I am thrilled about is that my Dutch language course is twice a week from 7-9pm, and my science courses are Tuesday and Wednesday from either 7-9pm or 5-7pm. No morning classes! Coming home at 9 really isn’t a big deal, and I’ll be finished with these classes before the evenings get too dark and miserable. Also, I have to understand that this amazing science facility wouldn’t be possible in the middle of the city, so in order to have the resources, I have to travel a bit. After my science meeting I went into the city and did some shopping at Kalverstraat, the biggest shopping area in the city center. I needed to buy some cute little sneakers because good biking shoes are a necessity. One can only wear motorcycle boots during warm days so often.
I have yet to decide what I will do during the day when I don’t have class. I applied for the Global Exchange Ambassadors Program (fingers crossed, 15 international students get the jobs) that will allow me much more interaction with different parts of the University. I know teaching young kids English, or at least doing jobs where school children could come and hear me speak English is a big thing here, so I’ll either look for that or environmental internships. The first 8 weeks will take some time as I will get adjusted to classes and the workload. The follow eight weeks, however, I might add on another course to gain enough credits to skip block 3. That would allow me more time in Dallas before I return after Christmas, and I could spent a little time travelling. Decisions, decisions.
Tuesday night, a few of Nat’s friends from Manchester arrived and we decided to show them some of the city. We went down to Rembrandtplein, one of the most popular squares for clubs and bars. The Three Sisters Pub has kind of become our place in Rembrandtplein (been there twice in the past 4 days); the bar has a nice location in the square, a cozy inside, and isn’t as overwhelming as some bars can be. I love the social life that is simply getting a drink or two and talking for hours. We were on a mission to find me some cider, what those crazy kids drink in England, and we found some at an Irish bar also in Rembrandtplein called St. James Gate (shout out to Jim!).
I had to work on an assignment for an online Pitzer course on Wednesday, but we revisited Coco’s that night for their weekly international deals. I had to go to the almighty Albert Hein on Wednesday afternoon, only to find that a fire was burning in the parking garage under it! The entire street smelled horrible, and I also couldn’t get to the store. I went to the other market down the street that is much smaller and mainly sells produce. At least three people were in there just to buy quarters of watermelon… not quite sure what that was about. Coco’s is a great place to see our ISN friends and even our coaches were there (kind of weird because they are about thirty, but that’s ok I guess?).
The next day I returned to Science Park for another introduction for IIS and learned more about the building. I finally met my mentor-ish girl that helps me register for classes and such, which was a relief. After returning home (another long bike ride, where this time a car only honked at me once!) I went with Nat to get her bike fixed at the little shop down our street. The weather was absolutely perfect yesterday so we stopped for a beer at one of the neighborhood bars, Mensjelief Cafe (which means “Sweet Person”) and tried some beer brewed about 10 minutes from our apartments. The brand is De Prael, a really ethical company and we plan on taking a tour of the brewery soon. Each beer is named after a Dutch folk singer and has a quote. Nat and I took the bottles, collected flowers from outside of our apartments, and made centerpieces for our kitchen tables. So lekker. Note: “Lekker” is a Dutch word for anything good, tasty, cool, anything positive really. We overuse it.
Thursday night was our neighborhood welcome-international-students BBQ, and let me say that Dutch BBQ doesn’t compare at all to what we have in Texas. It was still good to actually see the people that are living around us, meet some new faces, and check in with those we saw briefly on the first day moving in and haven’t seen since. The dinner was overlooking the pier, which is really incredible. I get more amazed with this city every day, even days when I barely get out of my room (that’s only been one so far, but I’m sure when it snows there will be more).
So here I am, living the Dutch life. Tomorrow is a beach day, and then who knows what’ll come. I just got back from more welcome meetings for Global Exchange students and then had dinner (my first dinner out actually, and only for about 5,50 euro) with my girls. Despite the incredibly creepy Italian waiter that kept telling me that he’d “seen me before,” we had a great time eating and drinking in our beloved Rembrandtplein.