8/13/12I’ve been in the Netherlands for four days now and I frequently find myself looking up everyone’s nose. The people here are TALL, but not as predominantly blonde as I had expected. In fact, the famous Dutch height is the only stereotype that has held up so far; that, and the abundance of cheese. Clogs, tulips, and windmills all seem to be in scarcity here in Maastricht. However, every grocery store I’ve been in showcases shelves stocked with massive wheels of gouda, swiss, and inestimable unfamiliar types of cheese. One store was offering samples, and my roommate and I were quick to buy a block of the stuff.
Beyond cheese shopping, The DLC (Dutch Culture and Language) program has kept us all busy with daily tours of the city and nightly trips to the bars. Our Dutch tour guides––whom are also our fellow students––have offered a diverse experience of the city. With their guidance, we’ve explored the Roman-built walls of the old city, visited a bookstore inside a cathedral, and danced until the wee hours of the morning at Alla, the club that opens when everywhere else has already closed. Such a variety of activities exemplifies the way in which the old and the new flow seamlessly together in Maastricht. Ancient buildings house modern clubs, and the ancient cobblestone streets teem with shiny new mopeds, bicycles, and cars.
Our rigorous schedule doesn’t leave much time for sleep, but I’ve managed to fit in a much needed nap everyday, and I seem to have finally recovered from my jet lag. There will be less time for rest in the coming weeks, however. On Wednesday, we will head to Amsterdam, and from there on to Delft, for a few days of sightseeing. It’s not always easy to absorb such a constant influx of excitement and new surroundings, and I’ve found that it’s easiest to simply relax and think in the moment. Trying to wrap my mind around the numerous trips and events that are planned for the next few weeks is overwhelming, but taking each day at a time is easily manageable and, even better, thoroughly enjoyable.