Exciting, amazing, kind of scary, cold... These are just a couple of words I heard students use to describe their first days in the Netherlands. Oddly enough, most of these terms also apply to my own situation. Because it is my first semester as a CIEE employee as well, I believe I was just as excited, amazed, scared (and cold) as our new arrivals were. But like most other things in life, it is best to take the leap and to dive right in. I took my leap together with the other CIEE students, and it has been an amazing journey ever since!
As I write this, your first month as CIEE student in the Netherlands is almost over. Did the month go by very quickly for you? I am not quite sure if you picked up on the very special vibe that has been hanging around Amsterdam and the Netherlands this February. If you did not, I cannot blame you. You had so many other things to worry about: CIEE and ISN Orientations prolonged your jetlag significantly; there was a whole new city to discover (by day ánd by night, as I hear from your stories); and the start of your classes followed quite immediately. In addition to this, I kept sending you emails about all kinds of CIEE activities and interest groups that we highly recommend you to join. In short, you probably might not have had that much time yet to appreciate the special February here. It was the month where the canals in Amsterdam were frozen and we were all dreaming of an “elfstedentocht”: a legendary 125 mile ice skating tour on natural ice that did not take place for 15 years now! In the end it did not happen (the ice was judged a couple of inches too thin in some places), but the Dutchies had some amazing times on the ice. Check out this beautiful video:
During our CIEE excursion to Zaanse Schans, some of you were lucky enough to do a bit of ice skating yourselves. One of the kind inhabitants of the Zaanse Schans was so nice to lend his very impressive collection of ice skates to us and to other tourists! Respect for all of you that gave it a go. We were far from experts, but we had fun!
To conclude: My first month with you CIEE students has been great. I hope you realize that a half a year is not that much, so try to enjoy every minute of your semester. I know I will!
Semester: Spring 2012
Position: Temporary Program Assistant at CIEE