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Journals from Telemark University, Bø, Norway

2013-07-08 The Beginning of the End: Part Two, The Netherlands

Hei Hei,

After I got back from Poland, I spent a few days in Bø with friends. We played games, made dinner, and hung out. One of the days, it was super gorgeous and warm outside and so Richelle, Maira, Johannes and I decided to go out to Bø River to go swimming. The water was quite cold as it was runoff from the melting snow and ice on the mountains, but it was enjoyable. From this little outing, I can tell that I’ve grown a lot. When I first came to Norway, I don’t think I would have been comfortable going out like that, but things change I guess.

The day after we went swimming (the beginning of June); I headed to Oslo to go to the Netherlands to visit my friend Sanne, who had gone home a few weeks before. My first impression was that the Netherlands is incredibly flat! There are no mountains or hills even. I had to navigate my way to get to Zwolle, the city where Sanne lives. Navigating has turned out to be relatively easy for me now, even in foreign countries. Sanne met me at the train station and we walked to her apartment. We talked well into the night and caught up on what was going on in our lives.

The first day, Sanne took me for a tour around Zwolle. It’s a typical Dutch town and so it was nice to see what life is like. The city itself was quite beautiful. It was fun for Sanne to show me around; she had found a little pamphlet at the tourist office and used that to tell me about the place. She learned new facts about her home too. My favorite thing we did that day was having a picnic in the park in beautiful weather. We spent a couple hours just talking and sharing bits of our lives with one another. We also went into a cheese shop that day (the Dutch are famous for cheese). It was crazy to see the large cheese wheels that they have and all the varieties of cheeses. We also stopped by a board game store so I could pick up some Dutch games that I had been introduced to by Sanne and Johannes. That evening we had dinner with a couple of her friends at her apartment.

The next day I waited in Sanne’s apartment for her to get back from a job interview. We decided to make lunch and then wander around the city at a more leisurely pace. We wanted to rent a paddleboat to go around the canals so we waited by the rental place and played one of my new games. Paddle boating was tiring but entertaining. It was another gorgeous day and we just enjoyed the sunshine and soaked it all up. For dinner that evening, Sanne made Chinese food. We decided to go out for a bit to one of her favorite pubs. Afterwards she showed me another really  Dutch thing: food that comes out of the wall. It’s like a vending machine but with freshly made food. I tried a Dutch food called a kroquet. It was a fried stick (resembled a Twinkie) with a breaded outside and a delicious beef paste inside. After that, we talked some more and I packed up my stuff to be ready to leave the next morning.

On my last day, we decided to go to Amsterdam for a few hours before I had to go to the airport. We took a train from Zwolle to Amsterdam (which we almost missed). We rented a locker at the train station for our bags and proceeded to rent bikes to go around the city. I enjoyed biking again as I hadn’t done so in five months. We went around and looked at a few sights. It was intense to bike around in Amsterdam. There was lots of traffic in the form of cars, trams, pedestrians, and cyclists. I almost ran into a few people, but luckily no accidents. We really enjoyed going out to the “I Amsterdam” sign outside one of the museums. We had to head back to the bike rental place before we went over our time limit so we did that and then proceeded to walk through the Red Light District. It was interesting...but not really my thing. We then walked around a bit and went into souvenir shops. We also saw the Dam, which is the royal palace in Amsterdam. We did a bit of shopping and then headed to the airport. We ate dinner together and then parted ways for the final time outside security. It was hard to say goodbye because I know it will be a challenge for us to visit one another again, but I have faith that it will happen.

Unfortunately, my plane ended up being delayed by an hour, which wasn’t that bad. Nevertheless, I missed my train (which was the last train to Bø for the night). Therefore, this time I spent the night in the airport, which was much nicer than Oslo S. I spent five and a half hours reading a book and then walked around a bit before getting on the first train I could in the morning. I was very glad to arrive home again in Bø for the last time.

I absolutely loved the Netherlands. I think it was probably my favorite country of all the countries I visited in Europe.

Read ahead to see my final reflections of my experience.

Ha det bra!

Amber Hay

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