reading week

So this past week, Hogeschool Utrecht has also been on their reading week. I’m not sure why ours here is the same time as the U of L, because I started school on January 30 and  I only go two days a week. It’s not exactly stressful, like U of L is. But I’m grateful for the break, and I’m sure native students here understand it better.

I had hoped to go on somewhat of a “large” trip, like Barcelona for a week or something, but nothing really panned out – I’m a poor planner. So instead, I did a bunch of smaller trips. Last Saturday, I went to Amsterdam with a Canadian friend of mine. We took in a couple of museums, hit up some street vendors (I got a beautiful scarf and some really bizarre postcards to send home) and of course, got some traditional Dutch food – Mannekenpis, fries with mayonnaise, of course. After that, we headed to Paradiso, where my favourite artist of all time was playing a small acoustic show. Peter Katz is a folk/indie musician from Toronto who has just been nominated for a Juno, and he was doing his last stop on his European tour. We heard him play some amazing songs and then we left the venue and accidentally headed into the “real” concert hall, where Simple Minds was playing. We took in a bit of that and then headed out and back to Utrecht.

The next day I went with about eight other people to the Carnavale in Maastricht. These carnavales take place all over the southern half of the Netherlands, and are a mixture of Mardi Gras and Halloween. The costumes are absolutely unbelievable and the streets are full of parades and musicians and thousands of people celebrating and dancing. At one point, we even found a trampoline and two of my friends took turns double-bouncing each other while in full costume.

I came back Monday with every intention of heading to Rotterdam on Wednesday for the day, however, I came down with a throat cold and sprained my ankle the day before Carnavale, so that wasn’t meant to be. Instead I laid low for a couple days, did some homework and drank some tea to relax.

Saturday, I went to Den Haag (The Hague) with some of my friends from Carnavale and a new guy. Den Haag is the governmental capital of the Netherlands, and we saw the parliamental buildings, as well as some buildings involved with the Royal Family – a church where the Queen makes an annual speech to Dutch citizens, for example. And in Den Haag, we also found… the beach. That’s right. We went to the beach, and even though it was only 5 degrees, this Canadian girl took her shoes off and ran into the water. The Austrians find it hilarious and disturbing that I don’t ever wear socks, and splashing around in freezing water made them that much more certain that Canadians are crazy. So, sorry about that… if you ever go on exchange, the people here might hold me against you. 🙂

So even though I didn’t get my “big trip,” I was more than happy with everything I did over reading break. I was worried that I might get too focused on seeing all of Europe and neglect my adopted country, but this week was perfect for getting to see everything that is close to home and everything that makes the Netherlands perfect.

Does it sound like I’m never coming back? I might not!

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