Thursday, August 25, 2011

In the Netherlands

I am finally here!  I arrived last Friday after 3 flights and an orientation in New York.  It is beautiful here.  There is so much open area/farmland, grass everywhere.  I have never considered Gastonia an urban area but after living here, I don't know. 
On the way back to my host family's house, a 2 hour drive from the airport, we made a couple stops.  First we went to a dutch village where we walked around looking at houses, shops, and the sea.  There was one shop where you could dress up in traditional dutch clothing and take a picture which me and my host sister, Stella, did.  We were wearing big dresses, white hats, and wooden clogs. 
The second stop we made was to look at a famous dike.  With the sea on one side and a lake on the other it was a pretty site.  I got my first taste of dutch weather here too, it was really windy and slightly cold.  After we got back in the car we drove to their house.  It has so much land!  They have 3 horses, a foal, chickens, chicks, and a dog.  I have my own room which is really cute with a bed, a couch, and a desk area.
In the following days we have been pretty busy.  We went to an old dutch village where I got a demonstration on how to make dutch shoes.  The only problem was that the presentation was in dutch so I had no idea what was going on.  I had to rely on my host mom for translations which were good but to far and inbetween.  I will be a lot better off here when I can understand dutch.  I am working on the lessons that AFS provided for us and making a little progress.  Hopefully in a few months I will be able to tell a big difference.
We also went to Westerbork, an old concentration camp.  It was really interesting to see.  We biked along a trail to where all of the old barracks were and saw 2 different memorials for all of the people killed.  There was a museum with lots of blown up pictures and accounts of the prisoners.  I have always wanted to see something like this.   It was hard to imagine that we were really in the same place that the prisoners stood years ago. 
I also went into the city one afternoon with Caroline, my host mom.  I bought a phone, school supplies, and a waterproof winter jacket.  The city was really cool and I am looking forward to shopping around more.  It is really close to my school.
Overall my experience here so far has been great.  My host family is really nice and I get along well with all of them.  School starts in a week and a half.  I am a little nervous but hopefully it will go well.
Anyway I'll write more later.  Tot Ziens

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

8 Days Left

8 days... 
I can't believe it.
It is starting to dawn on me that in slightly over a week I will leave my little bubble and travel all the way to Europe.  I will say goodbye to my family, my friends, and even my native language for a whole year. I will develop a life that is thousands of miles away from what I have always known.  I am nervous.  But for every ounce of nervousness there are at least ten ounces of excitement.  I have been waiting for this for over a year now, counting down the months, then the weeks, and now the days.  I have never felt such a longing for something, sometimes eight days feels like an eternity.  At other moments though, I know I will miss this time when I can so easily communicate with my family.  Emailing and Skyping can't give you hugs or shared day to day memories.  I will try to enjoy this time for what it is worth, and when it is time to leave, I will not look back but will look forward to the days that I have been waiting for.
We are on vacation at the lake this week, so I spent the last couple weeks packing and getting organized for my trip.  I still need to figure out a few things but for the most part, I am ready.  I am having trouble fitting everything in my suitcases, especially with the weight restrictions.  It is hard to pack for a year on 44 pounds.  It helps that I will get some things there like a raincoat and a heavy winter jacket, I have never really needed those in NC.  
At this time next week I'll probably be a nervous wreck with less than 24 hours to go.  I have a one night orientation in NYC and then the next day we fly to Amsterdam.  There my host family will pick me up!