Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Like I said in my last blog post, I waited to get back from London, England to update again. I just got back on Monday. London was absolutely amazing. I am pretty sure it is the biggest city I have ever been in even though I am coming from the USA. Although, I have to admit that the British do an awesome job when it comes to organization. When going up and down an escalator in the metro station, you have to stay to the right or the left, I can't remember. But anyway if you don't want to move and you would rather just stand there to wait to get to the top/bottom then you have to stand to the side so the people that are in a hurry can get past and move up/down quicker. The great thing was that people actually read and payed attention to the signs. I don't know why I am even talking about this, but it kind of shocked me while I was there. Even though London is so big, the underground metro is really easy to use so you can go pretty much anywhere in a matter of minutes. Since my host parents have a little daughter I was walking around and sight seeing by myself most of the time. I was able to see pretty much every major tourist attraction while I was there. I think the one thing I didn't visit while I was there was St. Paul's Cathedral which I'm sure is probably beautiful. The problem occurred though when I got off the metro. I am 16 years old, so therefore my sense of direction is absolutely terrible. Most of the time I would get lost, so I would just follow a group of people and I would wind up in an awesome place. An example of that was on Monday when I followed a huge group of people to Buckingham Palace where I witnessed the changing of the guards which was pretty cool. Even the times that I didn't follow a group of people I wasn't disappointed with the outcome. London is a beautiful city, so no matter where I was, I was fascinated with what was around me. England is known for their fish and chips (I think) but I didn't have any of that. I am going to sound like I am definitely from the States right now, but I ate at McDonalds twice while I was London. I did try to find other places to eat, but I just wound up eating there instead. I guess I missed that place. Anyway, I don't want to get sidetracked when it comes to food because those of you that read this know how much I talk about food. Before leaving the subject of food though, I have to tell you one thing. Pub food in England is probably the best food I have ever had in my life. It is also pretty amazing because even though London is so big and busy, Pubs are so relaxed and quiet. Okay so I will get back to the adventures. As I said before, I visited pretty much everything. That includes Big Ben, the Tower Bridge, the Parliament Buildings, and so many other things. I walked for 4 hours or more everyday because I was so excited that I was in a city like London. My host parents and host sister along with me stayed with a great family while we were there. This world is even smaller than I thought. The people we stayed with were some of Rosanna's good friends from college. I don't know about you, but I think that is pretty cool. I really enjoyed my stay with them for the few days that we had there. I do have to say that I actually spent some money while I was there. Normally I am so cheap and I don't buy anything when I go to places like that, but I did this time and I sure am glad I did. In a few days I hit the half way mark of my exchange. It is sad to think about because I am having so much fun here and I have some awesome friends as well. These 5 months (almost 6) have gone by incredibly fast. Although, I can't wait til I am home so I can share some the European culture with everyone. I do have a lot to look forward to for the rest of my exchange though, so for now, I don't want to think about returning home just yet. I have a Rotary weekend this weekend, so maybe I won't keep all of you waiting another 3 weeks til my next update. I will try to update again soon.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
It took me so long to update because I wanted to wait for the holiday's to be over. I am not happy at all that they are because this time of the year is a blast especially when you are experiencing it in a place like the Netherlands. The past 3 weeks have been loaded with traveling even after that five country in one day tour. My host family took me to a little town called Thorn about 30 minutes up north. Thorn is otherwise known as the White Village. Most of the homes and buildings are white because a while back the people wanted to hide the poverty that was in the town so they decided to paint the buildings white. While we were there we went inside another awesome Church that was also white inside. Then my host family and I went out for a walk, but I am not going to talk about that. After Thorn, I met up with some exchange students in Arnhem which is a really nice city up north. We didn't spend time in the city because we decided to go to the zoo before hand. The zoo was pretty fun mostly because the exchange students and I know how to make things even more fun. My day was made even better because this time I had absolutely no trouble with NS which is the main transportation system here in the Netherlands. When all the exchange students are together it is crazy, but yet so fun. The next day one of the Rotarians in the Host Club took me to Antwerp, Belgium. I love architecture and so does he so it was an awesome day. Antwerp has some of the most beautiful architecture I have seen since I have been here in Europe. The city is filled with old buildings and beautiful Churches. I am glad we were in Antwerp because that is the Flemish speaking part of Belgium so I was actually able to understand what people were saying. I just realized that I skipped Christmas here in the Netherlands. On Christmas eve we went to my host Grandma's house where I was able to meet more of my host family's family. I have to say that it is pretty fun hanging out with all of them. Christmas morning we went over to my host dad's mom and dad to have breakfast. Unfortunately I was feeling kind of sick on Christmas but I tried my best to not make it ruin Christmas. We didn't actually open gifts until the 26th because here in the Netherlands they kind of have two days of Christmas. The 26th I believe is referred to as boxing day but I could be wrong. In other words, Christmas isn't much different from Christmas in the USA. Surprisingly, I wasn't homesick on Christmas, but that was probably because Christmas this year didn't actually feel like Christmas. It was most likely because time has been passing by so fast that I haven't been able to catch up with it. A few days ago my host family and I went to The Hague (Den Haag). The Hague is a beautiful city just like pretty much every other city I have visited. That day was the first day that I had seen the sun in a while. Since the sun was out, my host family decided to go the beach. I have never been so cold in my life, but it was fun. As all of you know, yesterday was New Year's Eve. I spent New Year's Eve with some of my great friends that I never get tired of hanging out with because they are so great. Yesterday was sort of a rough day for me because I was quite homesick. I wasn't sure why but I think it had to do with the fact that I knew I would wake up in a new year and I wouldn't be with my family. I love my family so much back in the USA and I can always count on them. To be honest though, I have a family here that is great as well. My host family is great and my friends are like family to me. So I guess in a way, I do wake up to family every day that I am here. My friends were there yesterday to help me get over my homesickness so besides that it was a great night. I didn't want the night to end, and no one else did either. At midnight the sky lit up with fireworks so that was a cool experience. I told my friends there last night that one of my resolutions was to act like myself again. I think they may need to be prepared for the real me because I am pretty crazy, and my friends and family back at home are probably thinking the same thing. So for 3 hours last night, I was acting like myself and we were all having a great time. I haven't laughed so hard in quite a while. I didn't wind up getting home til 3:30 in the morning and even then I didn't actually go to bed. So last night was a long and fun night. It is 2012 now and I know that it is going to be another great year. My host family and I are heading off to London in 3 weeks, so I don't know if I will wait til then to update again, but we will see. Happy 2012 everyone!