2023-24 Owen, outbound to Netherlands Sept. 19, 2023

Sep 19, 2023

My last journal was kinda cringe because I was bored over the summer, so I’m going to get to the point this time.

It’s been about a month into my exchange that I’m writing this and everything is going great. I’ve noticed by now that despite all of the cultural differences, life remains the same no matter where you go. I wake up, get ready for class, glaze over the lesson because I already know the content, wait for break period to talk with friends, classes end and I can hang out with them or go home and go on with my day. The only major difference is that I’m a 5 minute bike away from the train station and can go pretty much anywhere in Europe for 8 euros.

And I have a Rotary Club that is very interested in my everyday life and want to bring me everywhere they possibly can within an 11 month time span. I’m already going to go to Berlin for a week in October for school, and then Rome in April likewise, but my Club has also already planned to take me to every meaningful place in the Netherlands, and then to Sweden, Austria, Norway, Germany (for a separate trip), and probably more places once they get past these first trips. Very exciting.

I’ve also noticed that all of the food here has less calories. Thus I have been extremely tired and hungry everyday. Also, everything here is super cheap, for example, the most expensive meal at McDonalds is only 1,50 euros. Everything else is likewise that cheap.

Anyways, I’ve already gotten used to my new family dynamic and have already gotten close enough to them that sometimes I will refer to them as my actual family. Not as a replacement for my blood family, but rather an extension of it.

I’ve also made plenty of friends already, and now have at least three people in each class that I talk to everyday. For the record, I am also the only exchange student at my school. Or for that matter, in my entire city.

I met another exchange student during my flight, Lexis, who seems to be a very fun person. She’s from Kansas and is staying on the opposite side of the country. I just can’t have exchange friends I guess. Which is pretty true as it’s been a month and Multidistrict Netherlands still doesn’t want us to leave our respective cities until after the 24th of September, the end of our introductory weekend. You read that correctly. Weekend.

Compared to other clubs getting a week, or even two, for their Rotex and language camps, we in the Netherlands get a weekend. We also don’t get language classes either. It’s all self-taught and they simply expect us to know basic Dutch. They gave us free textbooks though, so still better than college. Also the weather for said weekend is going to be terrible. So we go to Vlieland, an island, and can’t even go to the beach. Not that I’m complaining, I don’t like the beach anyways.

The independence I get here is amazing though. If I ever get bored, my friends and I can simply can go the train station and each get a ticket for 8 euros and go anywhere in the Netherlands that we want. Outside of the Netherlands I’m required to have a host parent, Rotarian, or teacher.

Unfortunately, there is no good burger place in the entire Netherlands apparently. Even the fast food is worse than usual, how is that even possible? It’s just grease half the time. So now I end up making my own burgers whenever I need to sate my “American food itch”. I swear if I’m not a master of the grill by the end of exchange I will be so mad.

Also the cheese is amazing here. I eat it everyday. I also eat bread and chocolate sprinkles everyday. I also cycle everyday. Truly the Dutch experience if I say so myself.

I don’t really know what else to write right now, I just feel like I’m rambling, so I’m going to end it here.

Oh, also enjoy a picture of Tommy, he’s very sweet.