Here we are. Five weeks in. So sit down (actually you probably are to be fair), grab your snack of choice, and we’ll get into it.
This first month has flown. I’ve met so many people, I’ve changed my whole routine in life and if I stop and think about it, it feels surreal.
I think I even surprised myself with how quickly I settled in. I have my roommates to thank for that, they made the transition so easy and I’m so lucky at how quickly we clicked (shout out to Kaitlyn and Manon). I spent the first few weeks meeting new people everyday and doing something every night, but my motto was “yes” to everything. I think if you go on Erasmus that should be your mindset, at the least in the beginning. It meant I made friends so easily and made my best memories in those first weeks.
But those non-stop days don’t last forever and when the days rolled around that I didn’t have any plans, I made sure I didn’t lie in my bed or mope around the apartment. Because I found those days the best for exploring what was around me and getting out of the “international bubble.”
So what it’s actually like living in The Netherlands? It’s not a joke when they say everyone cycles. Riding a bike is the “practical” way of getting around and I’ve experienced people acting snobby when you tell them you take the bus. I’ve learnt to embrace cycling more, but at the start I found riding a bike really intense, especially since bikes here don’t have brakes (you have to pedal backwards to stop). But like anything, I’ve gotten used to it with practice.
The only time I’ve missed home, is when recently Ireland got an unexpected visit from Storm Emma that covered the country in snow. I spent those few day checking my social media feeds, watching everyone enjoy, complain and overreact over the snow. It made me feel like I was missing out and it didn’t help that Utrecht didn’t have more than a dusting of snow but was still unbearably cold.
My classes are interesting. They’re very cultural so I do modules like Art History and European Cities, type of classes I’ve never done back home. Though I don’t let my focus get consumed by them, which I think for me is a good change
This month in travelling, I’ve been to Amsterdam numerous of times and a did a trip to Eindhvoen. I also made travel plans for April…to Berlin, Krakow and Prague (!!) (expect future blog posts).
My friend visited at the end of February and it was comforting to see a familiar face. She’s incredible at finding the best places to eat so we spent the few days eating the nicest food and drinking cocktails. When she was leaving a small part of me wanted to go with her, just so I could pop home and do a lap of the pier with my dog and breathe in the Atlantic sea air. But thankfully the moment was only fleeting and I got on with the rest of my day.
So that pretty sums up my first month. All in all I’m loving it and can’t wait to see what the next four months have in store.