Whoa! Introduction Week has come to an end, and I needed to sleep all weekend in order to recover. Best. Week. Ever.

So in Europe they have an organization called the Erasmus Student Network, and the whole goal of this organization is to make international students feel more at home. I feel like we could do something similar at U of L, but we don’t have enough exchange students. And honestly, it’s pretty similar to all the awesome things that Recruitment and Student Life arranges for new students, like Jump the Line and NSO and then Fresh Fest, organized by the ULSU. It’s all those things. Together. Now you know how awesome this is, right?

So you can buy an ESN card for 2 Euros and it’s good for your whole stay. You get discounted food and drinks and you get to skip the line at Club Poema, which is a weekly party for international students. On a Tuesday. Poor planning, I know. Especially since I have classes on Wednesdays at 9… whoops! Anyway. I’ve had this card for two weeks and it has more than quintupled its value in that short time.

So ESN organized Introduction Day, January 28, there was a boat tour in the canals and free food, a tour of the city centre. Then they do Introduction Week, which was this past week. So Monday we got our new “Dutch families,” which were made of between 8-10 internationals and two native Dutch leaders from ESN… almost. My Dutch leaders were from Portugal and from Yemen, so maybe they weren’t quite as Dutch as the other leaders. No matter. Here was our itinerary:

Monday: “Traditional” Dutch dinner with Dutch parents. Instead, Tom from Portugal made us beans and beef in pitas. Maybe not traditional Dutch fare, but definitely traditional student fare. His Portuguese roommates made the most delicious sangria I’ve ever tasted to go along with it. Delicious! Then it was off to a pub quiz in the city centre… we came in 10th of 20, but I know we should have won. We did great on the trivia parts, not so great on the parts where you had to name 39 different Ke$ha songs.

Tuesday: We met at a pool hall in the city centre for two hours of pool and free drinks. I was terrible at pool, as always, but we had a lot of fun. Then we went to a pub around the corner for drinks and I made a pit stop at a greasy sandwich place for a croquet sandwich… it was delicious. I would eat my way through every dive in Utrecht if I had the time and the money! After this we went to Club Poema. Luckily our ESN cards let us skip the line, because there were probably 50 people lined up, and the temperature was close to -20. Inside it was a pretty normal club, but better. I can’t explain why. It just was. Made it home at about 5am. Poor life decisions and a severe lack of sleep!

Wednesday: Dinner at Stairway to Heaven, this really cool metal-themed (obviously) pub. Dinner was good, but even better were all the autographed guitars and albums on the walls. Unreal! I’ll have to snap some pictures, there were some amazing finds in there. Next was “Pimp My Bike” (since this is Holland), which I didn’t do, since I have no bike yet. Instead I froze my face off until our group piled into the nearest pub to warmup and dance to Nossa Nossa. We headed back to campus for the worst Dutch movie ever created, called Phileine Says Sorry (don’t watch it, I warned you). Then off to the bar in my residence building for a Hawaiian theme party with Backstreet Boys and DMX cranked.

Thursday: Four bar pub crawl. It was a great way to check out some places we might otherwise not have seen. We went to two really classy places, and two places that were more pub-like, but all of them were great. True to my ultimate goal, I had a falafel from some dirty story in the city centre – it was also delicious. After this, we went to Tivoli, which is a really large warehouse-type bar that played house/trance/I-don’t-know-the-difference type of music. Not really my style, I was a little bored, but no matter.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday? Go to the gym and recuperate from the severe lack of sleep I’ve been having. But what an amazing week, thank you the the dedicated ESN members for putting together so many great activities that let me meet so many people, see so much of the city and have an absolute blast in Utrecht, as always!

In case I haven’t been too clear – GO ON EXCHANGE!! It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and if you’re following with me, I hope you can see that it’s absolutely surreal and amazing!

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