(The padlocks on the lamp post above have the names of couples written on them. Lovers lock their names onto chains and lampposts all over the city.)
When it comes to field trips, Europe has America completely busted. Along with my art class, I spent a week in Rome - wandering, taking pictures, and speaking a strange flow of Dutch, Spanish and English. Another exchange student in my school, Valeria, also came along. She's from a different program (Youth for Understanding) and comes from Ecuador, so she helped me brush up on my totally abandoned Spanish. Thinking in two languages is hard, but three is ridiculous - I have a lot of respect for kids who go on exchange to learn their third or fourth language!
The trip was fantastic, especially the first three days; We had flawless weather, in spite of the weathermens' claims of wind and rain. All that showed up on day four, when we went to the Vatican- it was like being in a hurricane! Luckily the rest of the week was milder, and we donned our zonnebril/sunglasses once again. The teachers kept us on our toes - we crossed the city time and again, past monuments, through ruins, in one cathedral door and out another. Our feet felt crippled by the end of the day, but everyone managed to walk to a little cafe for dinner every evening, a different one nearly every night. Pizza, pasta, more pasta, lots of meat... typical Italian fare. I felt no guilt eating so richly every night, with the amount of walking we were doing. Our rooms were on the fourth floor of our hotel, with eight flights of stairs leading up to them!
It really was an amazing week in all respects - I made a lot of new friends, got to see a lot of little corners of a hugely famous city, and of course see so many works of art and achitecture that I've seen pictures of all my life.
In contrast with January, February was peaceful. Truth be told, I didn't do much - the weather was still cold and dark, and all I really wanted to do was curl up with a blanket, a book and my ipod. I did get out a little bit - I visited some friends in the south, and my friend Joss came up for a weekend baking extravaganza. We made blueberry pancakes, oatmeal raisin cookies, and to top it off, a fantastic vegan chocolate cake with decidedly non-vegan icing.
So! Quite a lot has happened since my last post... in January... sorry everyone, I'll try to post more!
The long winter is finally over... spring has sprung in Overijssel! There's a warm breeze, daffodils are sending up shoots, and the grass is green again. I'm laughing at my poor Alaskan fellows with their meter of snow. So what if you all got snows days, for the first time in decades, because I'm wearing sunglasses and a hoodie. Thpp.
It's definitely been a busy winter/spring - a ski trip to France with my host aunt and uncle, passing my big Dutch test from AFS (yess) and a school trip to Rome just the week before last.
Juggling events has never been a skill of mine but I've survived thus far! Today is actually my 7 month mark, so I've been reflecting on how much I've done this year... I'll post updates in chapters!
My sojourn to France was fantastic - thanks to Margo, Ton, Robbert, Monique and Imke for inviting me along! We stayed in a beautiful mountain chalet just a quick walk from the lifts, complete with a gorgeous view of the French alps with the tiny village of Puy de Saint Vincent tucked in the foothills. Our first evening there, the owners of the house (Ton's niece and her husband, Illonka and Vincent) took us on a midnight snowshoe trail by the light of the moon. It was breathtaking - the stars and moon above us and pure, sparkling powder below our feet. Looking out on the tiny illuminated village below us, I felt like maybe I had found a mountain town to rival the beauty of my own home.
We spent six glorious days skiing and snowboarding there. It was so relaxing, to wake up in the morning and slip right into underarmour and ski pants, sit together for a breakfast of fresh bread, Dutch cheese, and meat, and then shoulder our skis for a morning in the mountains. Imke and Robbert are both talented snowboarders. Most of my friends at home ski, so it was fun to see the different ways we could interpret the slopes on our chosen equipment. I didn't think I'd have the chance to ski this year, so I felt really blessed to have such a great host family!
Imke giving cousin Emmy a ride
(more on flickr soon!)