It turns out that this trip to Amsterdam for the Dutch Winter School turned out to be a lot more than that. The parts that were not included in the advert or briefing. From the moment that we sat down at the welcome meeting, the prospect for the two weeks went from completely unknown to a positive outlook. The people have definitely made the Dutch Winter School the best possible outcome for me and it is a shame to have to leave it all behind. In this post, I will take you through ‘the little things’, that became our normal routine but will be remembered when I think of the highlights of 2017.
Of course, my usual ride to school with Jennifer and Grace, morning or afternoon became a significant part of our routine. Late only on our first day, it kept us healthy but usually pretty cold by the time that we reached the school. The time taken to finally secure the bike to the railings finally reduced significantly after two weeks of experience.
Derkinderenstraat 24 became a familiar sight every weekday and the friendly ‘Goedemorgen‘ and smile we would receive from the Dutch in the elevators and on the reception desks on level seven. Walking in from a cold bike ride was certainly a wonderful sensation.
At the beginning of the week, our heads turned more towards the questions on the walls, but they soon became familiar in our minds – no need to remember those! The walls became increasingly more occupied with our work, a reminder everyday of progression.
I’m not a coffee lover, but at the start of each lesson, Grace would make the coffee which I’ve heard was very nice. It sure smelled pretty good…
The view from our classroom never failed to impress, from the quiet streets in the afternoon with the frequent departure from Schiphol banking across the sky, to the hustle and bustle of the night with the lights of the cars illuminating the streets.
But obviously the Dutch filled atmosphere of our classroom everyday was an incredible experience. Our text books laid across the tables amongst other books, pens and coffee cups of course. We spent a great deal of time in this room and made some pretty great memories. The daily treats brought in certainly put me in the mood: Stroopwaffels; donuts; cake!
The bikes almost became a prized possession, especially since we would have to pay 350 euro if it was lost or stolen, so they were treated with care. Cycling in Amsterdam is a must do, you always feel safe and the traffic are always vigilant of the bikes. Priority is always given, even on the roundabouts.
There are several routes from the student residence to the school. The primary route that we would usually take would involve cycling past Albert Heijn or Lidl, so we spent our fare share in those shops. We always tried to talk in Dutch whilst we were there too, something you can’t do back at home! Albert Heijn became an iconic sight.
Our frequent rides to Amsterdam earns a huge spot in the list, it’s not really a little thing either. I guess this was our main distraction, but its almost impossible not to visit such a beautiful city whilst you are there for two weeks. It was pretty easy to get in and out of the city centre, thanks to this wonderful vehicle…
The number thirteen was the tram that took us into the centre directly from outside the student residence, Jan Van Galenstraat, so relied on this service quite often. The sound of the bell that the trams make in the city centre reminds you of the atmosphere of the city and basically to move out of the way! They are everywhere, but they helped us see the city.
On the days that we did not eat out, we cooked up some pretty impressive lekker meals as you’ve already seen in my other posts. I don’t usually cook much at home, but I chose to cook on most occasions and it was a great responsibility. We all learned from each other and how we do things differently from others, not just due to personality but normality in our countries. Most of our great memories were made in this place, where we slept, cooked and studied…There are plenty more little things that I will miss and that differ from my normal routine, I will miss being able to make the effort to have conversations together in Dutch in the kitchen, waking up to a new Amsterdam every morning. I would definitely choose to do it all over again, but I wouldn’t change what has already happened. It truly was an experience of a lifetime. Dutch Winter School, Amsterdam 2017