The International Student Network has sort of lost my interest. At the beginning, it offered some cool activities, but the end is near. Tomorrow there is a trip to the zoo along with the “final party,” which is the last event and should be quite big.
Tonight was the Dutch ‘borrel’ culture night. ‘Borrel’ means ‘drink’ in Dutch, so basically it just shows the international students the Amsterdam bar culture. What really mattered were the people I experienced it with…
I’d say the groups of friends I’ve made in the Poeldijkstraat building are pretty solid. We always do things together and have made some great connections. We’ve even taught each other awesome French/English phrases and slang words to bring back home!
Today’s excursions consisted of a city walk with a tour guide, a boat ride, and the Van Gogh museum. On the city walk, we came across a cool looking flea market and some wonderful flower shops selling bulbs for tulips in every color imaginable. We also walked through districts and areas which I have explored many times already. On the boat ride, we saw many house boats that were permanently docked on the sides of the canals. Some of these houses had entire gardens growing on the decks. The boat ride was relaxing, but it was enclosed so we all just got really sleepy. Once we got off, I grabbed some coffee then we headed to the Van Gogh museum. This is something I had been wanting to do for a long time. The collection in this museum is just incredible. It includes pieces from his very early stages as an artist (paintings by others in the Hauge School, which he attended and charcoal drawings) to right before he died. After spending some time in the museum I felt quite inspired and amazed to be standing right in front of the original paintings of an artist I have loved since the first grade.
The International Student Network puts together a 4 day introduction period for study abroad and exchange students coming to Amsterdam for school. Each day has different activities that not only involve interactions between international students, but also tours and information about the city of Amsterdam. Today was not as exciting as the next few days will be, but it was still an interesting experience. In the morning, we had to find the ISN headquarters, which happened to be a couple tram rides away. This is where we registered and got a bracelet for the week’s upcoming events.
Later in the evening there was a free dinner at a night club that was actually quite far away. Those who had stayed with their groups all day and had gone to intercultural workshops (which I decided to skip) had coaches to guide them to the location of this club. Those who didn’t stay with their groups all day (the majority of my friends) took the longest way possible to get to get to the club because the tram routes are ridiculous and make no sense.
After spending an hour on public transit with a tram ride, a metro ride with a missed stop, another tram ride, a bus ride, and some walking in the rain in between, we finally arrived. At one point, I actually found use for one of the ONLY Dutch phrases I managed to learn before I arrived in Amsterdam. “Ze verdwaalden in het bos!” This means: “They got lost in the woods!” I thought this would have been completely useless and out of context since I’d be living in a CITY. Boy, was I wrong.
ISN provided us with 3 free drink tokens and some terribly bland noodles for dinner. The club was nice, but we left once the food and drinks were consumed. Getting home was quite simple once we knew where we were going. It was only two tram rides (about a half hour) away. I’m running out of money from simply taking the tram everywhere I go. I need to get a bike ASAP!
My hopes are that tomorrow’s excursions will be more successful. My itinerary consists of a city walk, a boat ride, the Van Gogh museum, and Dutch Night (getting to know the Dutch ‘borrel’ culture with Dutch drinks and such).