My home away from home

It's hard to believe I was in Amsterdam just this morning. It feels like it has been days since we left the Hilton. Today was exhausting and you will have to excuse the fact that all the photos are blurry. After we had the fanciest little pancake plate, we made our way to the train station to catch a train to Utrecht. I think I am really getting the hang of traveling around on the trams and trains around here. And it doesn't hurt that people have been so so helpful to us the last few days when we are lost or looking for places. Utrecht Centraal is only 2 stops from Amsterdam and it only took 22 minutes to get there. The train pulled into Utrecht Centraal and I was quite underwhelmed at first. The station was covered with graffiti and garbage, and the only buildings in sight were huge and grungy-looking.

We fumbled with our baggage until we found a Starbucks and decided to take a well-deserved rest. I sat and people watched for a very long time just thinking how different the Dutch are from us, but I realized that aside from the language thing, they really aren't very different. And everyone owns a scarf. Everyone. After relaxing for a bit, we decided to find the grad students who will be teaching us for the next two weeks. They were standing under the great big signs at the station. 

They gave us our room keys and pointed us in the direction of the bus towards Campusplein (aka the college). After the bus ride, we got lost a little bit. A nice older gentleman recognized that we were clueless about where we were going, and kindly showed us the way. As we headed off in the right direction this time, he hollered "give my best to Barack Obama!" Strange. After walking under a shady-looking overpass and more graffiti, we arrived at a little gate with the words University College written over it and we knew that we made it. 

The campus is so tiny but it is really beautiful. It looks like a baby Harvard. I got so excited to see the building we are living in and even more excited once I saw that the room is huge. I got my mailing address today! For anyone who would like to have it, it is:

Maupertuusplein 1-711
3584 EE Utrecht
The Netherlands

We made friends here almost immediately, which was so lovely. A South African girl and a Dutch girl showed us the ropes around our dorms and I scored some free stuff from the pile that last semester's exchange students left behind. We set up as much of our room as we could with what little we brought in our suitcases. It looks quite bare for such a big white room. My new friend took us into town and showed us the local grocery store called Albert Heijn. It's a tiny place, and they don't sell much besides food. And for whatever reason, they had signs about hamsters everywhere...I'm not sure what that was all about but it gave me a good laugh. 

After seeing a little bit of the town, we went to meet up with the rest of the exchange students from the states at Cafe Broers. After getting to know everyone a little bit, we went looking for places to eat. We walked aimlessly past so many restaurants until we finally made up our minds to go to this cool little Indian restaurant right along a canal where I had Indian food for the first time and it was delicious. 

We ended the night back in the dorms where we met some Canadians and another Dutch girl, and spent time chatting with new friends. It's definitely an interesting mix of people here from all different parts of the world. Lucky for us, the bar on campus is right outside our window and they looove their loud music. That would be why I am writing this at 3:30 in the morning. Not like I am irritated by it or anything..........tomorrow should be a pretty relaxing day and we will hopefully be able to find an Ikea for some much needed room supplies and decorations.


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