A Travellerspoint blog

Adventures

In my first weekend away

sunny 78 °F

Tonight I am staying in - yesterday was enough of an adventure for me.
The day was exhausting as I worked my way through the paper I need to have ready for presentation soon - though good news came that an extension was provided for conference attendees.
I was provided with the opportunity to skype with both my love and with some of my family - these times of correspondence make me smile.

favorite time of every day

favorite time of every day

Frustration ensued with the paper I worked on when my internet died and I needed to email my preceptor - luck would have it that I could connect with a cable because I have no idea where the wireless hub lives in this place - 7 people living here and i could not find it in any of the public access areas.

With work behind me it was time to go to the store because it is a holiday weekend and on every weekend the stores are open minimally on Saturday and completely closed on Sunday, then Monday is a holiday where all shops will be closed. At the grocery store I comb the isles, which are not long or stocked like the stores at home. Combat Kroger (small and in 2nd ward) near my house seems huge compared to the store I shop in here - the store described to me as having "absolutely everything you could need" by one of my house mates. I didn't mention my expensive spoiled tastes, but I am extremely happy or was at the time to find PEANUT BUTTER! My standards are a bit lower as I care mostly about saving money and not eating something that's terrible due to my language barrier. I had fear that I would not find the peanut butter as I can read no dutch and my google translate on my phone will only work with wifi that isn't working in the store. I nearly bought a peanut sauce...that would have been runny and not delicious with jelly or honey. I miss my honey from home, but this stuff will do. All i can say is, if there weren't pictures of limes and chilli peppers on the label with the peanuts - i would be eating some very interesting sandwiches. The great reward form this store trip was that I would cook my first home cooked meal.
first home cooked meal

first home cooked meal

Rice

Rice

mixed bag of vegetables

mixed bag of vegetables

and because i have nowhere else to throw these pictures in with any real story:
phone book cover - i don't think people use the phone book to find doctors in the U.S. anymore

phone book cover - i don't think people use the phone book to find doctors in the U.S. anymore

view looking down the stairs at my flat

view looking down the stairs at my flat

Before the home cooked meal though I went for a run - the weather here will be perfect for running and working out every day - i have to stop counting bike riding as exercise maybe. I was out running for just over an hour, but I stopped because I talked with a stranger on my run and he and i spoke Spanish (which makes me feel more at home) then i left him in my dust and when running I would stop every so often to take a picture. The scenery is so beautiful and I am sure my photos don't do Nijmegen justice.
2012-05-25 out running

2012-05-25 out running

2012-05-25 out running

2012-05-25 out running

2012-05-25 out running and pretty flowers

2012-05-25 out running and pretty flowers

2012-05-25 ducks on a bridge out running

2012-05-25 ducks on a bridge out running

2012-05-25 pretty flowers out running

2012-05-25 pretty flowers out running

2012-05-25 out running and checkin' out some events

2012-05-25 out running and checkin' out some events

2012-05-25 out running and checkin' out some events

2012-05-25 out running and checkin' out some events

2012-05-25 out running

2012-05-25 out running

2012-05-25 out running

2012-05-25 out running

2012-05-25 out running

2012-05-25 out running

After my run I did some weight lifting thanks to my friend Lauren for making me this nifty weight bag that I filled with rocks from my patio - who knew a bag of rocks could make a girl so happy?!
bag of rocks

bag of rocks

Finally after some exercise I made that delicious meal I showed you where I seasoned it with a bunch of stuff I couldn't read and didn't bother to look up. (I did smell the spices before I used them though)

By the time I showered my stinky self and fed my belly it was a bit late, but my first Friday I wasn't going to spend in - I was determined to go out. So after midnight (it doesn't get dark until around 10pm) I headed out on my trusty bicycle for the city center.
You NEED to be comfortable on a bicycle if you are going to come here. This is because you might be like me and not notice your surroundings as well as you think you are when riding into uncharted territory and then after walking around the center of the city you get lost on your ride home. I left the city center around 1:15am and only live 3-4miles away and didn't get home until 2:15-2:30. The ride was twice as long as it should have been, but I made it back safely and to soothe my nerves and feel at home I curled up and watched two episodes of mad men (sleep at 4:15am).

Today after waking up and making some not very good french toast due to forgetting to purchase butter for the pan - I headed out to the train station to figure out how I am supposed to schedule trains for trips to other European countries with my rail pass. Side note - the rail pass I think was a waste of money - you need to book far in advance, but i'm not sure how you do that when you have a rail pass and need to have someone from the train station approve your ticket and travel dates. In the summer trains get booked up to three months in advance. I think I will have to use my rail pass for my travels in the Netherlands so that it wasn't a complete waste of my money and I will have to shop for some cheap plane tickets to the places I really want to go such as Rome and Paris. I digress.
At the train station i finally captured some pictures of something we would never see in the U.S. - a huge area for many, many, many bicycles to be parked.
more bicycles at the train station!

more bicycles at the train station!

bicycles, lots of bicycles, at the train station

bicycles, lots of bicycles, at the train station

It turns out I cannot book international trains at the local train station and need to go to a neighboring town called Arnhem so I took the knots in my stomach and nervously boarded a train to Arnhem. Once there I could understand no signs and have no comprehensive Dutch language book so I took stairs up that lead me nowhere useful and finally found some escalators down where I found the international ticket booking office. Here is where I successfully booked my train to Zurich where I still had to pay extra fees on top of my rail pass. This is also where I found out I can't take the train to San Sebastian, Spain to visit a friend because they are all booked. You also can only book two trips at a time as I was informed by the ticket agent. The ticket agents were super useful and I was holding up the line for a while, unfortunately for those behind me. I left with my reservation tickets to Zurich for the weekend of June 8th - YAY!
The train ride back to Nijmegen I took some photos of the countryside although there aren't many because the ride is only 10-15minutes. Knots in the stomach for nothing for such an easy ride.
view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

view from the train

Once back in Nijmegen I was famished, but was on a mission to look around town during the day and I forgot to pack a lunch so I ate some pretty delicious pasta at the train station where I talked with a student behind the counter about the U.S. because he is fascinated with it and wants to move there one day. He was kind and we had some good political discussions before I headed back to the city center to look around.
There were plenty of clothing shops - many stores that can be found in the U.S. such as H&M, Espirit, Crocs, Clark's, Claire's and others. There were also plenty of places eat, very many bars with large outdoor patio areas, in the alleyways were infamous "coffee shops," not to be confused with cafes or a coffee huis. So I walked around on this beautiful day that did not exceed 78 degrees Fahrenheit and made my way to the water.

graffiti

graffiti

walking around city center

walking around city center

gnomes!!!

gnomes!!!

fun shop in city center

fun shop in city center

walking around city center

walking around city center

walking around city center

walking around city center

walking around city center

walking around city center

walking around city center

walking around city center

walking around city center

walking around city center

heading back to the city center from the water

heading back to the city center from the water

by the water

by the water

by the water

by the water

view from down by the water

view from down by the water

view from down by the water

view from down by the water

down by the water

down by the water

down by the water

down by the water

down by the water

down by the water

down by the water

down by the water

city center in Nijmegen

city center in Nijmegen

city center of Nijmegen

city center of Nijmegen

After sitting by the water thinking, writing, doodling and petting strangers' dogs I headed back home to eat leftovers. After 9 and exhausted there is no desire to go out on my first Saturday. An Adventure for me may not be much of an adventure for you, but I think that I am trying to absorb so much that the most menial things take the most energy.

I have to say that although my smart phone is of no use as a phone over here - it helps me take tourist pictures in a more inconspicuous manner since so many people have smart phones here. Am I texting or taking a photo? I feel less exposed anyway.
Hope I will have more phone photos to post soon!

Posted by PlanetMEP 16:24 Archived in Netherlands

First Day of Work

And there is work to be done

Ride with me to work
Riding to Work
I put my U.S. cell phone in my pocket and put it on video as I thought it might be fun to show some of my morning commute and others doing the same. Look carefully to the right at every intersection and you may see the lights that illuminate the picture of a bicycle for the cyclist traffic lights.

I arrived at the university 30 minutes early to ensure I wasn't late and my preceptor was already there. We sat and met about what I would be doing this summer. I have to have a paper ready to be submitted next week for a conference in Madrid later this summer. I will be composing lectures for medical students on the U.S. healthcare system and a few other healthcare systems. I will also be assisting with research on primary care. I have a lot of work to do and still there may be some other things.

Photos below are associated with the office in which I will be working.

The location of my internship

The location of my internship

Radboud University

Radboud University


2012-05-24_09_57_40.jpgSe Habla Espanol

Se Habla Espanol

A sweet message left for me by my office-mates

A sweet message left for me by my office-mates

more photos on the wall

more photos on the wall

the office space of the PhDs I share an office with

the office space of the PhDs I share an office with

my office space

my office space

photos on the wall in my office

photos on the wall in my office

solidarity....

solidarity....

They have given me a key and they have named me Mevrouw Paris

They have given me a key and they have named me Mevrouw Paris

My preceptor and I had lunch with another faculty member, as I met a few, and I enjoyed the creamy mushroom soup and croissant for 2.50Euros. After lunch I finally got some time to get started on my work and barely finished reconstructing the bibliography. I also had the pleasure of meeting not my office mates who I hope to meet next week, but a couple of PhD students who are my age. All my flat mates with the exception of one lady who is a staff member at the university are a bit younger than I am. Anja, the German student staying here this summer, and I speak some, but I really felt like I made some friends with the PhD students today. After I got off work I joined the students I befriended to celebrate the university's birthday where there was a DJ and some live bands. I wanted to stick around to see what the main attraction band was like as their name was the Memphis Maniacs.....consider yourself lucky to skip the show.
Celebrating Radboud University's Birthday

Celebrating Radboud University's Birthday

I have no idea what this says

I have no idea what this says

Memphis Maniacs Playing.....terribly

Memphis Maniacs Playing.....terribly

Memphis Maniacs

Memphis Maniacs

Their music was a hybrid of many American songs meshed together. They were meant to be dressed as pseudo-Elivis impersonators in adidas sweat suits decorated in fringe and rhinestones. Everything was in English, but the singer couldn't hit the notes he was attempting and when you mesh Ace of Base with Eminem beats and "you've got to move it move it"....you've lost me. It was loud and the young crowd of students drunk of Heineken were loving the atmosphere. The music was terrible though. A mishmash of covers from this band convinced me it was time to go home and i looked at my clock and though still fairly light out it was 10:00pm.

A sense of direction with work, some possible new friends, and tomorrow I think I will work from home because I am permitted to do so. Monday is a holiday apparently - The Netherlands observes all kinds of holidays that are mostly associated with I think the Catholic church. My understanding it has something to do with enlightenment. Like myself I think most others I spoke with are just happy to have the day off. Many people told me today that Americans work too hard and don't take nearly enough time off - perhaps part of the reason for such a relaxed atmosphere. I look forward to meeting up with my friends(?) and carrying on more debates about guns - everyone here hates guns it seems.

With the weekend approaching I hope there are some more fun adventures on the horizon, although to be honest, it all is an adventure for me.

Posted by PlanetMEP 16:41 Archived in Netherlands

First Full Day

rain

The alarm on my international phone gives a new meaning to an obnoxious alarm - I think I will better appreciate the tunes my love's alarm plays in the morning after my stay here. I awoke just before the blaring noise excited that maybe my jet lag would be done with sooner than expected. Today I would venture out on my bicycle or rather Lieke's bicycle to find the university and the office of my preceptor with whom I have a meeting Thursday morning.
12012-05-23_03_56_21.jpg12012-05-23_03_56_33.jpg

This bike was amazingly comfortable and I think I want a Dutch bicycle when I return to the states - facilitates commuting much more so than either my dad's 1970s road bike or my hybrid. All the bicycles come with a lock attached to prevent the back wheel from rotating. At the university almost all the bikes were only using this lock and not a secondary lock to attach the bike to one of the many bike racks. I will take some pictures of bike racks in the near future, I neglected to do so today. A bright and cool morning it was perfect for riding. There are cobble pathways for those walking, red gravel/concrete bike paths, and then road ways. The bicycle lanes have their own lights to follow, as do the pedestrians and cars. People are not to walk on the bike paths, but occasionally I would see a cyclist go on the cobble pathway to keep stride with friends or pass a slower cyclist. Scooters would get tired of being on the roadway with the cars and drive up on the bike path surpassing all of us moving with our own two feet. Wind running through my hair and little to no fear of being hit by a car. The bike lanes are separated from the car road ways, not like in Houston where you are fighting to not pop your tires on broken glass, and everything else that's been brushed out of the way of the cars. No cars yelling at you, but instead stopping for you without any hesitation or anger. People commuting to work, commuting with their kids, and I was among the bicycle utopia that exists here. There was no need to fear not finding the university because I was given excellent directions from Lieke, and I studied the map hard before I left my flat, and then of course I saw some young individuals I figured to be students who I followed all the way to university.

It was easier to find the university than it was for me to find the actual office of my preceptor. The day was getting hot and I was dressed in clothes that covered all my tattoos in case I ran into him earlier. Radboud University is pretty - I regret I did not take pictures today. The sun was shining and students were outside everywhere eating on the grass, on benches, and relaxed in such a ways that I haven't experienced at a university since my time at Purchase in the quad. This was a feeling I never really got from University of Houston. This is a smaller university and there was a sense of community and a laid back nature to the populace. Maybe if I understood the conversations around me I would feel differently. Much of my wandering had me feeling like I was in a dream as many Dutch words sound a lot like English, so it was a dream where I couldn't speak my own language. Fortunately "hello" and "hallo" are very similar so as long as that is the extent of the conversation my American status remains unknown. I blow my cover beyond that. The only part of this dreamy experience that is smeared with a tarnished reality, is the amount of cigarette smokers everywhere; I could not escape the smell much of the time I was outside. In the evening outside my flat on my first night was the only time i have smelt the more pleasant scent of herbs as opposed to tobacco. There was no smell of herbs on campus, something that was quite different from Purchase, and maybe a bit surprising since it is legally tolerated here, but completely illegal in New York.

After I rode back to my flat I had full intentions to eat a little lunch, chat with my love, and then head back out BUT then the jet lag hit me and I passed out for three hours. After I woke up I had a little lunch and spoke with my love. Our chats are nice since I don't have anyone to really chat with here. I have spoken some with one of my housemates who has just arrived a day or two before me from Germany. She cannot speak Dutch so she is also a bit lonely I think. She and I have spoken some because she can speak more English than I can speak German. It has been fun to speak English with others here because of the way everyone translates the language; it is not native but I grasp their concepts. Hopefully when I speak Spanish this is what native Spanish speakers are thinking.

After conversing with Gabe for a bit I then got started on working on some of my travel plans - I have officially planned a trip to Oslo to meet up with some friends there. It is so far away I booked a cheap flight, but for all my other travels I plan to use my rail passes. Additionally I made contact with an international group at the university I have my internship at so may be joining them on Sunday to climb at a local rock wall - The Netherlands is flat so am not going to find any outdoor climbing spots anywhere. My hands are too smooth anyway so maybe if I climb at this gym regularly I can get my hands in shape to find some outdoor climbing elsewhere.

After working some on plans for this summer the room was getting hot and stuffy and I began to want to get out of the room. My original intent to riding into the inner city of Nijmegen did not come through but the clouds and thunderstorms rolled in so I thought I'd take a walk in the rain. Roaring thunder with striking lightning bolts reminded me of home. The rain fall was not heavy and perfectly refreshing. With fewer bicycles out on the path I figured it would be a good time to take some photos of my surroundings. I wish I got a picture of the dog I through a stick for whose owner spoke to me in Dutch before I could inform him of my lack of understanding - cover blown. We politely discussed the weather in English and I thanked him for letting me pet his border collie and letting me throw a stick for the dog. I miss my puppies.

Please take a look at the sights on the gloomy late afternoon I found so cool and refreshing. This is all along the major street I take towards the University.
2012-05-23 12.31.19

2012-05-23 12.31.19

2012-05-23 12.30.01

2012-05-23 12.30.01

2012-05-23 12.23.03

2012-05-23 12.23.03

2012-05-23 12.22.38

2012-05-23 12.22.38

2012-05-23 12.18.35

2012-05-23 12.18.35

2012-05-23 12.14.58

2012-05-23 12.14.58

2012-05-23 12.14.48

2012-05-23 12.14.48

2012-05-23 12.13.22

2012-05-23 12.13.22

2012-05-23 12.09.39

2012-05-23 12.09.39

2012-05-23 12.05.58

2012-05-23 12.05.58

2012-05-23 12.04.51

2012-05-23 12.04.51

2012-05-23 12.00.03

2012-05-23 12.00.03

2012-05-23 11.58.52

2012-05-23 11.58.52

2012-05-23 11.51.31

2012-05-23 11.51.31

2012-05-23 11.51.04

2012-05-23 11.51.04

2012-05-23 11.49.46

2012-05-23 11.49.46

2012-05-23 11.49.33

2012-05-23 11.49.33

2012-05-23 11.49.08

2012-05-23 11.49.08

2012-05-23 11.48.56

2012-05-23 11.48.56

2012-05-23 11.47.22

2012-05-23 11.47.22

2012-05-23 11.45.24

2012-05-23 11.45.24

2012-05-23 11.45.15

2012-05-23 11.45.15

2012-05-23 11.38.04

2012-05-23 11.38.04

2012-05-23 11.34.06

2012-05-23 11.34.06

2012-05-23 09.00.30

2012-05-23 09.00.30

2012-05-23 09.00.19

2012-05-23 09.00.19

2012-05-23 08.59.52

2012-05-23 08.59.52

2012-05-23 08.59.40

2012-05-23 08.59.40

Posted by PlanetMEP 12:54 Archived in Netherlands

Hello Nijmegen

I have arrived

sunny 75 °F

The plane flight which was not that long ago already seems so far gone in the past. All the anxiety and sadness I felt at the airport disappeared as i busied myself with airplane movies, a restless nap, and ultimately was replaced by excitement as I looked out my window 45 minutes from landing. At that point I could see canals, inlets, and parcels of the land broken up differently from what I saw crossing over U.S. farmlands. I knew I was close by time and by seeing what lived below. One stereotypical Dutch windmill was seen in my approach and solidified where exactly I was going. The wind farm spotted in the ocean below with blades spinning put a smile on my face - something about harnessing the energy of the wind captured some sense of a spirit of adventure in me. I was moving with the wind in this brilliant jet in the sky and when I landed my whole world would seem different. The closer we got the more I could see the variation in architecture, automobiles, and the more excited I got to explore. Of course I was landing in Amsterdam and didn't make time for exploring that city upon my arrival - but in due time I plan to return there with less baggage, a camera, a few Euros, and the sense of adventure I hope to entertain on my weekends.

Lieke, a student from The Netherlands who has been staying with me, and in whose room I am living while here, has been such a good friend and provided me with explicit instructions making it easy for me to navigate my way to my room here in Nijmegen. Still, I was nervous about botching her instructions. All the signs were in Dutch, but a few in English, and I made my way to the train platform to catch the appropriate train. I should note that customs in Amsterdam was more lax than any customs situation I have ever experienced, although that isn't much experience (Mexico as a child, Spain in high school, Chile in my undergrad, Hawai'i two summers ago and Canada last summer). No paperwork, a simple stamp, and no one to verify that I had nothing to claim. Once at platform three I asked a woman near me if I was indeed standing at platform 3 and not 4 as they were right next to one another. I arrived in the morning during the morning work commute. No signs as to where to go with a load of luggage and I had one 49.5lb bag in addition to a backpack and carry-on roller suit case. The train has a small entry with stairs down, stairs up, and then fortunately for me some seats right by the entry way where i could put my bags and myself. The woman who first made room for me was too kind and obliged my awkwardness.

Riding for an hour and a half to Nijmegen I had time to stare out the window and observe the scenery. The lush green grasses, the small towns with bicycle paths everywhere, bicycle paths running by the train tracks, Holstein cows with bells on their necks, sheep, and horses dotting the landscape with pleasant little cottage houses nearby. Scenes with beauty that should be captured on film. How relaxed the atmosphere felt. Additionally there were some great graffiti art pieces and lettering along the train tracks, beatifying the scenery for me though I wondered how locals felt about it. In chile graffiti art is revered as I understood it, and in the U.S. it seems the majority find it distasteful ("blank spaces = blank minds" as my friend Leo in Missouri used to say), but I know nothing of how the Dutch think of it.

After the woman who I sat next to departed the train, a young woman and man probably around my age sat in the seats with me, with their own luggage. Although they spoke Dutch, the man was wearing a shirt with writing in English (the text I cannot recall) and the woman was singing "under the sea" from the little mermaid. I got up the courage to ask in English, as my Dutch is severely lacking, if they were recently watching the little mermaid. They were wanting to see the play version of it indeed and the woman was getting ready to go play the character Belle from Beauty and The Beast at Disney Paris...I must admit I did not even know there was a Disney Paris. Before this they planned on touring the country putting on a play production for children. They told me how difficult things were for them financially right now with the crisis and how the arts were suffering because of it. They asked me how things were in Amerika and we had a brief discussion over the matter before they exited the train.

Two older women joined the train area next to me and they spoke a little English so we chatted about my arrival and their plans to go stay with one of their daughters in a small village somewhere. As they were transferring trains in Nijmegen they were kind to let me know I was for certain at my destination.

Although famished I resisted the urge to have something from starbucks at the train station - I didn't come all the way across the world to eat something from a Seattle based company after all. The bus was found easily and the bus driver I asked if he spoke Engels - the only word I have really muttered in Dutch as of yet. He spoke a little and I pointed to him on my set of directions produced by Lieke to where I was headed. As I stood with my bags he ensured that I got off at the appropriate stop. I did tell him Dank U (thank you) multiple times for his help. Relief washed over me as I spotted my greenish colored front door. I walked in on floor 0, as the ground floors here are considered 0 and took the narrow stair case in trips up to the 2nd floor where my room is.

Unpacked and done snooping around the house I head to the grocery store where I made my first mistake. I had not weighed my apples and bananas prior to the checkout line and the clerk did not speak English, but pointed and said "weigh" and so i left to weigh. I felt silly for not spotting the weigh station before which I did search for. I must have still been starry eyed soaking in my surroundings after looking at some comical prepackaged pancakes that said "6 American Pancakes" with an image of pancakes on the package and an American flag sticking out of them. Still all the people in the line were understanding, as was the clerk.

I have met two of my roommates, though one of them will be moving out soon so I spoke to a couple of the people interviewing with the landlady about the room as well. The landlady was very sweet and everyone kept calling her the House Keeper. Very different understanding of that in the U.S.

The landlady, the roommates, the strangers I have all met, have all be incredibly kind and I have been beside myself with their kindness. In some parts in the U.S. I don't think they would find people so helpful or kind as everyone has been to me.

A baguette eaten with garlic olive oil, some French goat cheese, and a salad with delicious strawberry dressing fills my belly and after having showered and napped I am settling in to my new home. I have yet to go for any adventures other than my trip to the market across the street from where I stay, but that is what tomorrow is for and all the rest of my days here.

Cool air is a reprieve from the sticky situation at home where humidity and the heat are taking over. My first day has been fairly stress free and very exciting; I look forward to tomorrow where I will have the day to myself before starting at work on Thursday. I don't have to worry about responsibilities for my practicum (internship responsibilities for my school) until Monday where I am hoping the time difference will not make things too difficult. I am here to work and learn, but on the weekends you can believe I am here to explore and learn in different ways.
2012-05-22_13_01_57.jpg2012-05-22_13_01_12.jpg2012-05-22_13_00_57.jpg2012-05-22_13_00_34.jpg2012-05-22_13_00_21.jpg2012-05-22_04_25_46.jpg2012-05-22_04_23_17.jpg2012-05-22_04_22_12.jpg2012-05-22_04_22_01.jpg2012-05-22_04_21_51.jpg2012-05-22_04_21_14.jpg2012-05-22_04_21_02.jpg2012-05-22_04_20_45.jpg2012-05-22_04_18_23.jpg2012-05-22_04_17_36.jpg2012-05-22_04_17_23.jpg2012-05-22_04_17_11.jpg2012-05-22_04_07_46.jpg2012-05-22_04_07_16.jpg2012-05-22_04_06_41.jpg2012-05-22_04_06_07.jpg2012-05-22_04_05_33.jpg

Posted by PlanetMEP 11:29 Archived in Netherlands

(Entries 21 - 24 of 25) « Page 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 »