Top Five Things I Miss About Utrecht
1. My beautiful bike.
I miss you, bike! I miss the sensible bike lanes, the sensible bike locks, the sensible bike rules. I don’t bike in America because I WOULD DIE. Nothing is sensible here, y’all. We have drive-through Subways. NOTHING IS SENSIBLE.
2. Albert Heijn
The song doesn’t lie — but I do kind of miss biking with groceries on my back, trying to get my bike in the rack (IMPOSSIBLE), the surly cashiers, the idiot shelf-stackers, and cinnamon ice cream.
3. The Domtoren bein’ real loud at inconvenient times.
Once, in a controversial blog post, I talked about my extreme dislike of kroketten. I came around, and now I actually miss them. Bizarre.
5. Intercultural learning
((hanging out with my Swiss family)
I MISS IT, Y’ALL.
You Will Survive: A Letter To Read Before You Study Abroad
I wrote this letter to my beloved MadSteb, who is studying abroad in Bologna, Italy for Spring 2013. Her blog has the best name ever, and I’m not even saying that because I suggested the name.
My dearest, darlingest MadSteb,
Today (or tomorrow, if you cheated, which I kind of suspect will happen), you become a woman, which is to say you hop on a plane that will carry you far, far away from me. Though I am sad and will miss you terribly, I am SO excited for you and all of the wonderful things you are about to experience. I am 100 percent sure that studying abroad will be the best thing you do in college, even if it feels really scary and hard sometimes.
It will, by the way.
You’ll get lost somewhere where they don’t speak English, and they don’t write English, and they don’t understand English, but they do have greasy, pervy boys who will follow you and stare at your boobs (you’ll of course be in a bathing suit or a lowcut dress) or creepy pickpockets who will steal your money (right after you’ve gone to the ATM) or scary grandmas who will yell at you about goddamn America (even if you swear you’re Canadian). You’ll sit in your apartment and be really sad sometimes, just for no particular reason. You’ll cry so hard in the airport TGI Friday’s that the awkward waiter will bring you napkins, and you’ll not be able to finish your potato skins.
These things will happen. These things will suck.
But you know what? You shall overcome.
You are smart, talented, beautiful and generally awesome. You will kick the asses, proverbial or otherwise, of these problems, and you’ll probably look like a combination of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler while doing it, which is JUST NOT FAIR.
And most of the time, you won’t feel like this at all. You’ll have such a good time that you might feel guilty about it, thinking about us peons at home, slaving away for the next Mass Comm Law test.
You shouldn’t do that either. You should eat ALL the pasta, see ALL the museums, go in ALL the sketch kebab stores, meet ALL the people, buy ALL the things at H&M, take ALL the days off from the aforementioned activities that you feel like, and you should have a damn good time doing it.
Here is my best unsolicited advice: don’t come back with more than $30 in your bank account. Take a night train in Eastern Europe for the lols. Go somewhere no one you’ve heard of has ever gone (for me, it was Belfast) and become very pretentious about this fact. Take a million pictures, and put them up unabashedly on Facebook. Assume that everyone cares deeply about everything you do (we do). Trust yourself. If you’re going to do pot in Amsterdam, smoke it, don’t eat it in a brownie. Sleep in public places. Do things that you will never tell any of us about until you get drunk. Gain ten pounds eating whatever you want, just because you can. Skip class to travel; you learn more outside anyway. Don’t be an Ugly American. Avoid EuroShopper beer. Seek out 2 euro wine. Eat the local cuisine, but feel NO SHAME in eating American food every once in a while. Watchseries.eu or a similar site are totally fine. Think a lot about how much better Bologna is than Norman. Don’t feel bad if you aren’t super excited to go home. Don’t feel bad if you’re so happy to be home that you can hardly stand yourself. And come hang out with me when the reverse culture shock (IT IS SO REAL) gets bad.
Trust me on this.
Lots and lots of love,
My old stomping grounds
Ireland was the last new place I discovered. Sort of. From Dublin, we headed to Brussels. You (my faithful readers) might remember that I went to Brussels on my very first trip. I had just met Sasha. We took selfies like this:
and not like this:
Personal space is for suckers. We’re NORTH AMERICANS.
In short, my first trip to Brussels feels like half a lifetime ago. I “guided” my family on the streets of Brussels, which is a polite way of saying people refused to speak Dutch to me and we got lost and looked at a lot of maps.
That I got for us. For free. Just sayin’.
Anyway, the family went back to the fabled Mannekin Pis and the much beloved Parliamentarium. I didn’t take a single picture because y’all. I was so old hat.
Mom did score this solid picture of me and my waffle. And my sister eating. And me wearing socks with shoes that ought not to have socks with them.
After our day in Brussels, we took the train to Amsterdam, where we stayed in the Hotel Hoksbergen apartments. This is a canal house that’s been turned into apartments, and it was super fun to be able to spread out and stay up later than my parents’ 9 p.m. bedtime.
I mean, what?
The first day in Amsterdam, we went to Anne Frank’s House. Now, this is my third time to go, and I’ve not paid once. I bought a museumkaart for 40 euro at the beginning of the semester, and this gives me free admission into basically every museum in the country. If you’re going to be in the Netherlands for an extended period of time, I highly recommend it.
Anyway, so to get into museums, they just scan your museumkaart. Generally, they don’t look at anything on it. Dad took Sasha’s museumkaart, I took my own, and I bought Mom one half price from a leaving exchange student. Unfortunately, I decided to edit the birth date on Mom’s with a different color pen. The following exchange happened:
Anne Frank Guy: Is this your card?
AFG: Are you taking advantage of the system?
M: Yes, I am!
AFG: *scans Mom’s card, lets her in free*
I love Dutch people.
We also took a day to see Utrecht. It was really fun for me to point out where I live, drink coffee, and go to school. We climbed the Domtoren, which is one of those things that I’ve kept meaning to do but never got around to.
These are the bells that I could hear at random times in my apartment (and at school, and while shopping, and everywhere else). I lived about ten minutes walking from the Domtoren.
We climbed all the way to the top for some spectacular views of Utrecht.
The Oudegracht (Old canal) where I did all my shopping. The yellow building is called Winkel van Sinkel, and it’s a nightclub/cafe.
The big glass building is called the Stadschowburg, and it’s a theatre. My apartment is catty-corner from it.
(Is catty-corner used anywhere but Texas?)
My sister turned 15 while we were in Holland, and her only request was that we find a beach. I found one!
It’s called Texel Island, and it’s the first island off the Dutch coast. Weeeell, sort of.
We took a train to Den Helder, a bus to the ferry, and a ferry to Texel.
We accidentally ate at THE WORST CHINESE RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD!.
We got a little lost, but finally, we made it to De Koog.
More importantly, we made it to the beach.
It was a good day.
We spent our last day in Amsterdam paddling on the canals. It went…predictably.
Ten minutes later, it started pouring and didn’t stop until the next day.
Of course, this happened just in time for us to walk the twenty minutes with our suitcases to the train station to get to the next hotel…
Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!
I understand being passionate about football.
I was forced to watch inspirational football movies in school. Day after state testing? REMEMBER THE TITANS. The gem above? Filmed in my hometown. (I’m sorry.)
I watched Ryan High School not win the state championship my senior year of high school, cheering on the dumb guys from my economics class because it was too cold to contemplate doing anything else.
I left my first and only OU football game well before halftime. I couldn’t find my seat. I don’t really understand general admission.
On Owen Field, in my younger and more ginger days.
I’ve marched in homecoming parades and yelled at people wearing crimson and cream for parking in my spot in front of the dorms. (Seriously, why is permit parking so difficult to understand?)
Obviously, I understand school spirit.
Even though I hate American football, I understand it, sort of. Thanks for buying UNT season tickets, parents. I learned whenever UNT scored, which is why after two seasons I don’t really understand football.
At any rate, I understand American football culture. It’s crazy. It’s matching and yelling and kind of fun, come to think of it.
American is definitely the key word in that sentence. European football? It’s a whole ‘nother ball game.
(Literally. Man, am I hilarious or what?)
No one was wearing orange when I walked back from class at 5 p.m., but when I ventured to the grocery store a few minutes ago, I was quite honestly the only person on the street not wearing orange. I got weird looks when I went into the grocery store.
So I caved and bought oranje cupcakes.
For those who aren’t up on their soccer, this year is the Euro Cup. It happens every four years (offset from the World Cup), and it’s a HUGE deal. A few days ago, Holland lost to Denmark in a most crushing and embarrassing defeat. Apparently, you really ought not to lose to Denmark, or so I am told.
Tonight—right now, in fact—Holland is playing Germany. This is a HUGE HUGE HUGE match, mainly because the Dutch hate the Germans.
I draw your attention to number 10. It is most accurate. I think the most insulting thing you could say to a Dutchie is “Why do you speak German?”
People are going insane for this match. I am watching the game on my computer, but I can hear it amplified in my kitchen, in the park behind my house, and probably from the bar in my building. My professor asked my class to come in two hours earlier so we could all watch the match tonight. It’s especially a big deal because we have to win this one in order to advance to the quarterfinals.
Or something. I totally copied and pasted that from ESPN. I don’t know anything about Euro Cup or football.
Anyway, yes, this is one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen.
My quiet, lawyer-y street, about 11 a.m.
This is crazier than the time I accidentally bought tickets to see Mary Poppins at Fair Park on OU/TX Weekend and took the DART and got stuck in a mob of Sooners. This was before I was a Sooner, and it was straight-up scary. Now I know it’s just how we show our love for Landry.
And while I am generally only found in crimson and not orange, I decided to get in the spirit of things…
And so I raise my Heineken in your general direction and say to you, my dear readers, HUP HOLLAND HUP!