The GoGlobal Blog

A Time of Arrival

A Time of Arrival

17/1/2014 7:20am (Chicago Time 12:20am): 

I’m here. The promised land is upon me. All these months of paperwork, emails, packing, and research have finally culminated in my arrival to Amsterdam. The airport is just like any other airport when you look at it. You really don’t realize the difference until you sit down for some coffee and hear the difference. Language is invading my senses. It’s different, it’s all around, and I have absolutely no idea what it all means. I’m like a kid in a candy store who can’t read any of the labels. I make my way past customs, which seemed a lot more intimidating a process when my parents warned me of it, and collect my baggage. Amsterdam isn’t my final stop though. I head to the train station and spend my first euros on a one-way ticket to Den Haag Centraal station. There lies my new home, The Hague University of Applied Sciences. I feel like some sort of attraction as I board my train with all my bags. For a moment I see everyone look up at me as I drop my bag in the aisle, staring in intrigue, like some circus animal just got on and they don’t quite know how to handle it. A kind local suggests a place to stow my cargo in a hushed voice. I thank him and quietly take my seat across from him on the train. All is quiet. You’d think it was empty on that train, you could hear a pin drop.

9:45am (Chicago Time 2:4oam):

That’s the first thing I notice about the Netherlands. It’s quiet. The train is quiet, the countryside flying past us is quiet, it has an aura of peace to it. The kind stranger bids me a good stay and departs the train ahead of me. That’s another thing you’ll notice. People here either are friendly or stoic. I can’t even count the number of people who greeted me in Dutch my first day here. At least I think it was welcoming. It’s a tough language to pick up on, I usually just nod and smile.

I spend the next three hours wandering. This includes the wandering to my hostel. I think I may have illegally boarded one of the trams here, but luckily no one said anything. I get to the area where my hostel is supposed to be, but I can’t for the life of me find it. I walk in circles a few times while traveling bicyclists stare at me before I finally see the hostel’s name “StayOkay” across a tributary. I can’t check into my room until that afternoon I’m told. Sleep, I need sleep. I stow my luggage in a little room they have and do the only thing I can. I wander. I walk a few miles down one street, take a left and walk a few more. It’s not easy to get lost I feel, the street layouts are like smaller Chicago streets, but somehow more traffic. Yet somehow the city remains quiet. No sirens, no talking, no honking. A silent stroll through a foreign country. This is what all the romantics dream about right? My feet would beg to differ though, all this walking is hell.

Good morning Mr. Hague, how are you? Oh I’m just fine, my feet might beg to differ though.



4:30pm (Chicago Time 9:30am):

One of my roommates just arrived at the hostel. Her name is Emily. We sit down in the lobby and get to know each other, trading stories from home, and sharing our marvel of this strange land. She proposes we nap for a few hours and then meet back up to go explore. I’m unable to protest, and my legs drift me off to my bed.

When we rise, we meet up with a girl named Laurence that Emily met. Laurence is from Quebec. She speaks with a rough French accent, but is one of the nicest people I’ve met. We head to The Hague and meet up with the International Student Office. We enter the office and realize that The Hague has the best International welcome program ever. I’m handed a beer and told congratulations on making it to the promised land as I gaze around in awe at the gathering of students from all over the world. I students from France, S. Korea, Germany, and even some from Wisconsin. We soon leave the welcome party and are led to a magical place called Club 7, where one of the student ambassadors works. It really is a magical place, I mean honestly it is so much better than any American bar you might visit. People are smoking cigarettes inside, the DJ’s on each separate floor are playing fantastic House music, and everyone is very friendly. Not to mention the house beer is Heineken. I mean, come on, Heineken? You only see young businessmen and wannabe young businessmen drinking that back in the States. Everyone looks at me like a loony when I say we mainly drink Busch at the bars in the States. It’s just that kind of place I guess. You have to pay for the bathrooms here. It’s 0.50 euros per trip to the royal throne, which is strange, but it makes sense in a way I suppose.

It’s an interesting place, this Netherlands. Only my first day here and already I can feel a looming sense of discovery ahead of me. Which reminds me, I need to learn the Dutch word for “hello”, I really feel like a rude American just smiling and nodding all the time.

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