Just a quick post to commemorate my three month mark :) It feels like the right amount of time, like time is going at a regular speed. I don't feel like the days race by, but they don't drag either. It's nice to have a good pace down, and I think that I'll be happiest if I keep myself busy and running around like I have been. I only recently began feeling the true homesickness that I'd been warned of and last week was probably the toughest I've had here. Just trying to balance school and language and the craziness in my head... all I can do is take it day by day.
This weekend has been nice so far though. Last night I went with Wencke and her friends to New Moon... no comment :) ah well as far as entertainment goes it was a fine evening. I saw a few girls that I know from local parties there, so I talked with them for a while. It's always funny running into people I know around here because I never expect to see a familiar face.
Also, Paula booked a trip for a few days before Christmas for her, Wencke and me. We're going to Glasgow, Scotland from the 20th to the 23rd - I'm really looking forward to it. Only a few weeks until break!
So Tuesday night I was on MySpace and I saw that Portugal. The Man was playing Wednsday night in Nijmegen, about 2 hours away by train. It's an Alaskan band originally (one of the few good things to ever come out of Wasilla!) and I was way way stoked that they were here - the only problem was that it was the very next day. I checked out my list of AFSers in the area, and whatddya know, my Canadian friend Walker happens to live in Nijmegen... so I gave him a call, and a few minutes later we were set to go to Doornroosje the next evening!
last night I took a train to Nijmegen, leaving from Borne and switching trains a few times. I've finally gotten the hang of the train system here, the first time I did it alone I had about five panic attacks when I couldn't find the right track. I've gotten much better at it by now, thank god. Walker and his lovely hostmom Renee met me when I finally arrived, and gave us a lift to the club... the doors didn't open for about half an hour so we wandered around the neighborhood to waste time.
We went in about 8:15, waited in line with quite a few other people (typical hipster crowd, it was funny seeing all the same types here as in america). The outside of Doornroosje is really cool, covered in bright grafitti and murals. The name might sound funny but it means ' rose thorn', which is the dutch name for Sleeping Beauty. You know, Briar Rose. the inside is painted with vines of roses and thorns and various other flora. A band called The Cave Singers opened the night, I'd listened to them a little before but they played really well live. Live music feels more whole than recordings, it might have something to do with being able to feel the vibrations in your body (i love that) but a good live band makes the night that much better.
Portugal came on about 9:30, and were fantaaastiiic from beginning to end. they didn't waste time with little quips between sets, but just kept on playing one crazy amazing song after another. They did, however, ask if there were any Alaskans there and it was fun to be able to raise my hand :) The whole show was awesome though, had a good lineup of songs and they brought their own lights guy to keep everything colorful and surreal to match the music. I think they played for about an hour and a half, and I left Walker for in the club in search of an ATM... no luck, although I did team up in my search with some cool dutch guys who were looking for the same thing. Haven't laughed so hard in a long time, I wish i'd gotten their picture.
So finally we walked home.. or atempted to... got a little misguided and ended up having to call or backup (renee). collapsed on a cot in walker's room and slept for about 6 hours, got up at 7 to catch the train back to Borne. I managed to navigate the tracks with relative ease (only had to ask someone once if i was on the right train!! success), and got home in time to eat a quick breakfast and wash my face before racing off in the POURING rain to take a dutch biology test at 11:15! it's been quite a day.
...and here i'm just a creeper
So I figured because I've been so behind, I would do an extra post dedicated to one of the best Dutch foods: Hagelslag. They are chocolate sprinkles, but unlike the American ones that taste like wax, they actually taste like chocolate. Everyone here eats them, mostly for breakfast, sprinkled on buttered bread. AMAZING.
Ok, so I haven't updated in over a month... I'm sorry, I haven't even been that busy, but blogging hasn't really been first and foremost on my list of things to do... but today is catch-up day so here we go!
The most exciting thing I did last month was take a week and go to Italy with my host family. You see, they don't celebrate Halloween in NL, but apparently make up for it by giving us a week off in mid-October. I feel that this is a pretty good trade-off. So anyway, I took my herfstvacantie in Italy, because Paula and Henri are amazing people who in addition to feeding me and letting me live with them also bring me along on vacation.
We left on friday the 16th, and drove (and drove and drove) over the German border, which takes all of ten minutes, and then down into the German area of Ulm, where we spent the night in a little village inn.
In the morning, we ate our usual breakfast of bread rolls and various toppings (meat, cheese, jam, ....hagelslagen) and drove off once more. We soon crossed into Austria, where I annoyed more than one non-english speaking cashier and paula accidentally knocked over souvenier schnapps. We make an awesome team!
Austria, I must say, is beautiful. It reminded me of home a little, because of the pine trees and the mountainous terrain that I've been missing in the Netherlands. We kept on through a winding pass that took us through the Alps, where it began to snow. Luckily not too badly, otherwise Henri would have had a lot of trouble, but enough to look like the snow forest in the Nutcracker... Homer people know what I mean. Seriously, it looked like we were driving past the snow scene. So, so pretty.
That afternoon, we crossed the border into Italy. It was really kind of quaint stopping in a little town there and seeing that all the street signs, posters, and flyers were both in German and Italian. These Europeans make me hate myself sometimes, for knowing rudimentary Spanish and (so far) toddler's Dutch. Henri speaks fluent Dutch, English, French and German. Americans are pathetically behind here.
Our house in Italy amazed me. 350 years old, stone and wood, shutters on the windows. It was settled on a small orchard of apple, chestnut, olive and pomegranate trees, high up in the hills above Vicenza, surrounded by huge vineyards. That evening, while waiting for Angeline and her family, we sat by the wood stove, drank wine from the nearby winery and roasted chestnuts over the fire. peaceful and amazing.
We spent the next week exploring the surrounding area. Padova on Sunday, Monselice on Monday, Venice on Tuesday, Verona on Wednsday, Vicenza on Thursday, and Venice again Friday.
Of all the places we went, Venice will stay with me the most. I was amazed by the whole city, ancient and rising out or the sea. It was almost like Atlantis. We wandered around in St. Marco's Basilica for hours: the huge vaulted ceilings mosaiced in gold, and the artwork and marble statues were incredible. I never felt more surrounded by that omnescient something than when I stood there in the cathedral.
way more photos on my facebook, here's a few:St. Mark's