Monthly Archives: August 2012

My first month as an almost-American, Dutch student

Standard

I now spent one month in the US, of the six in total, and I would like to share with you what I have encountered and done so far. Over the course of the first three weeks, I traveled around the East Coast with my family in a humongous RV trailer. We visited many places; New York City, Newport, Boston, Salem, Washington D.C, Elizabethtown, Cape Cod, Middleborough, Provincetown and some national parks, among other sites. During this trip, when in NYC, what I enjoyed most was the cycling tour that we took of Brooklyn. Perhaps the reason why lies in culture – typically, the Dutch use bicycles as a means of transport, rather than for recreational purposes. Bikes in Amsterdam are like the subway in American cities: both are used en masse. It was a relief to once again, after walking endlessly through all the places we visited, sit on a bike and leisurely explore Manhattan (leisurely might be a bit exaggerated, what with the traffic) and Brooklyn. I also enjoyed Boston a lot, walking the freedom trail and visiting the USS Constitution, after which taking a water shuttle back to the city center.

As transpiring from my narrative, I was still behaving like a tourist at this time, and had nothing much to worry about, seeing that my parents took care of most things. However, this changed radically the day my family flew back to Amsterdam and I was left alone in the Big Apple, carrying my huge suitcases on the subway and through the center of the city in the pouring rain. Saying goodbye to my family was harder than I thought, however, more practical things, such as getting to the correct station and track soon overtook these emotions and propelled me forward. I felt more and more comfortable, traveling alone. Also, keeping in touch with my future roommates, who were planning to arrive in DC that day too, made me feel excited, happy and adventurous all at the same time. For all I knew, I felt like an explorer, on her first trip around the world. Of course, the actual distance to be covered was only about 230 miles, but who cares?

From my arrival on in DC, I felt like a deer in a car’s headlights; only difference was, I didn’t need saving. Loads of information, new people, academic issues to worry about, dorm parties in the evening (causing everyone to be late for the morning program), shopping for the apartment for three days with sore muscles as a consequence, (unplanned, and slightly irresponsible) monument tours by night, another (planned) monument tour during the day, orientation week, keeping in touch with your parents and friends (the time difference complicates things even further), complete strangers (roommates) who you’re going to be sharing everything with for a full semester, and many more matters that needed to be taken care of all started to come together and tumble around in my head over and over again. My advice: go with the flow and never mind the lack of sleep or the mess that’s supposed to be your apartment.

More exciting things are coming up, and more exciting things that I haven’t even mentioned here have already occurred, but I hope you got a small impression of my first week here at GW. It’s certainly very thrilling and quite exhausting too, but the fun is too big to miss out on.

Advertisements