Lebanon Valley College Study Abroad

The Flying Dutch Experience

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Hello everyone,

This past weekend was one of my favorite weekends of being here! We traveled by train to Eindhoven. We met up with some of our friends who live in Eindhoven. We went out for dinner at a place called Vapiano’s! The company was developed from previous McDonalds managers who were not happy where they were at and wanted to develop and work under a different vision of serving people. The restaurant has very nice inside interior that allows people to have their own private table and waiters who serve drinks. The only part that is similar to McDonalds is the ordering food process. In order to purchase your meal you get in line, choose your meal/pasta of your choosing, order it, watch the chef cook your food, and swipe your own card that is given to you for the time spent there. You can add food or other beverages to the card throughout your stay at the restaurant. Needless to say we enjoyed our time here and the food was delicious!

 

Vaptianos!

Vapiano’s!

 

Our Cooks!

Our Cooks!

 

The blob!

The small blob! Take notice to the name!

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Inside the actual blob!

Beach Volleyball in Eindhoven!

Beach Volleyball in Eindhoven!

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1 euro vending machine that actually slides your food to you

Eindhoven at night

 

The main reason we came to Eindhoven our final weekend was to attend THE FLYING DUTCH MUSIC FESTIVAL!!! This music festival had the top DJS in the world play music here. We had an absolute blast here! We arrived at the music festival around 2 pm and never stopped dancing until 11 pm. This music festival was not only a great time with the music, but also learning, talking, and building relationships with the local people who live in Eindhoven was a cultural experience!

The DJS who were here!

The DJS who were here!

The stage! This stage also shot out streamers and confetti during the day and fireworks and fire throughout the night.

The stage! This stage also shot out streamers and confetti during the day and fireworks and fire throughout the night.

Sun is setting and the entire place was packed

Sun is setting and the entire place was packed

My temporary free souviner from the Flying Dutch. We thought we were just going to get a star stamped on our wrist, but got toilet instead (please going to the bathroom here is not a privilege and you have to pay to use the bathroom).

My temporary free souviner from the Flying Dutch. We thought we were just going to get a star stamped on our wrist, but got toilet instead (please going to the bathroom here is not a privilege and you have to pay to use the bathroom).

 

During the music festival

During the music festival

You can never go wrong with ending a night with these kind of fries!

You can never go wrong with ending a night with these kind of fries!

 

Thank you for reading,

 

Corby Myers

I AMsterdam!

This weekend was our shortest during our trip. We only had 2 days to travel, so in order to save some time and money, a small group of us went to Amsterdam for the weekend and it was a blast! However, finding a hostel for Friday and Saturday seemed almost impossible. After hours of searching we decided we would just leave super early Saturday and just stay one night.

I AMsterdam

Well let’s just say 5:30 came really early Saturday due to some electrical problems the night before. Friday just wasn’t my day when it came to electronics. During the afternoon my phone was completely shot and would not turn on despite all of my effort. Thankfully, with the help of a fellow LVC student we got it working again (THANK GOODNESS!). But my trouble didn’t stop there. After an exciting night of card games with Xavier and LVC students, we decided to go to bed. When I went to unplug my surface charger, the lights turned off…. I went out into the hall and heard that everyone else in our floor was out of electricity. So I went down to safety desk and an officer came to assess the problem. Of course, he couldn’t find a problem with our breaker. At this point it’s about 12:30 and I am so tired and just want to get to sleep but he had to call in a specialist. After fiddling around with some things, the electricity was back, FINALLY bed time….. Well not exactly, as I plugged in my phone charger, the electricity went out again. After this, I realized I’m probably the source of the problem. So the specialist finally makes it to our room and I explain that I think it was my outlet causing a problem. After some investigation, he determined that I was right and had to replace my outlet. It is now 1:30 and he is just finishing up. Mind you we have to be up in 4 hours. I’ve never been so excited to lay down in my bed and get some sleep!

After a short night of sleep, we got up and took the train to Amsterdam. Upon arrival, we didn’t really have a game plan what we were going to do. So we got a hop-on hop-off canal tour for a very reasonable price. The first stop was to a cute little market that had a lot of good finds for cheap prices. I actually found a couple good gifts here!

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One of the sights from the canal tour!

After this the group I was with decided to split up, they were going to the red light district and I chose to do the Heineken Experience. After talking to them about the red light district, I was happy I didn’t go. They all said it was so sad and shameful how the women were portrayed. There were almost naked women displaying themselves in windows. They were pretty taken aback about how women could do that to themselves. Overall they said it was a huge eye opening experience but they definitely wouldn’t go back!

The last attraction I did was the Heineken Experience! Since no one else in my group wanted to go, I met up with some other students from Xavier and LVC to complete the tour. It was awesome! We got to learn the history behind the Heineken family, how they brewed the beer and, of course, tasting the beer. It was very interesting to learn the small details behind brewing the beer. At the end, they had a lively bar and a couple free drinks for each guest. That night, we dined at a little Italian restaurant and got some really good pasta!

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The 4 ingredients Heineken uses to make their beer

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Since I am super interested in Advertising, I loved looking at all their historical branding and their modern posters throughout the tour!

It was around 9:00 and we were completely exhausted. So we headed to our hostel by taxi because we didn’t really have a clue where we were going. During the ride, the taxi driver mentioned that this “wasn’t the good part of town.” Great, 4 American girls in a part of town that is known for being unsafe. At that moment we all started to internally freak out. We arrived and checked in and noticed that the hostel was pretty nice considering the situation. Due to our pure exhaustion, we decided to just spend the night in our hostel, grab some food, relax and sleep!

I was so excited to get more than 4 hours of sleep! I barely made it through a 20 min Netflix episode before passing out. The next morning we woke up around 6:30 in order to get to the city center and get to the Anne Frank house before the line was too long. We arrived around 8:40 and the line wasn’t too bad compared to what we saw the day before. Waiting in line might have been the most miserable I’ve been on this trip. It was freezing (of course, I didn’t bring a jacket, because what college student needs a jacket….) raining, and a long wait. An hour and half later we finally enter the warm building and complete our tour of Anne Frank’s house. It was super interesting to hear her story and see a house where a Jewish family had to hide out from the German army. Unfortunately, there were no pictures allowed during the tour. But I will remember that museum for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t recommend waiting any longer than an hour and a half for the tour for any future travelers.

We then proceeded to get our souvenirs from Amsterdam. Which for most of us consisted of a postcard and shot glass from the city. Next up was food! For lunch, we went to a little café in the city. Three of us scarfed up cheeseburgers because we have been craving them for over a week. I do have to give that restaurant some props, because that cheeseburger was quite appetizing!

Amsterdam

After eating, we got our train tickets and headed back to Maastricht since it was just raining all day. Tomorrow we are going on a field trip to the Brand Brewery and a syrup factory which will be interesting to visit!

Autumn Dances

I’ve been told that an inevitable part of growing up is accepting that the world is a place that you can only survive in through hard work. I’ve also been told that Mayan prophecies were based around 2012 and a crystal skull, so really, no sense putting too much credence into what others tell you.

This movie catches a lot of flak for a historical documentary.

This movie catches a lot of flak for a historical documentary.

In regards to the first thing I’ve been told, the one mostly lacking in plotholes and Shia LaBeouf, I suppose that it’s mostly true, and that going to New Zealand has been a revival of sorts, with me growing up all over again. First, there was the arrival, a period of naïve confusion in which I was guided through everything and didn’t even know what jandals were. Then, there was the wild youth, in which I went and did everything that I could, not even considering the consequences, mostly just happy to be alive. And finally, I’ve aged to the point where I’m back in college again, trying to balance my time and reconcile the fact that everybody else is busy because they’re trying to do the same thing.

Last weekend, I spent my Saturday night curled up with my laptop. I had taken to my bed, because these days, it’s too cold to work anywhere else. Next to me was a pile of notes and a bag of peanuts, several cans of energy drink located somewhere behind me. Rhythmically and sensually, my fingers raced across the keys, each click and clack a step closer to composing what was certainly going to be the best essay about the American Civil War of all time. Breathing heavily as I cited my sources, I dragged the cursor up to the save button, gently now, not too rough. That was it. It was over. I was free to lie back, catch my breath, and bask in the afterglow of an APA style paper with properly formatted footnotes and three body paragraphs of beauty.

Fifty Shades of Blue and Grey.

Fifty Shades of Blue and Grey.

My evening thus freed, I stood up from my bed, stretched my legs, and immediately got back into bed again. The heater had turned off, turning my room frigid once again. Those barrel fires always seemed popular in less scrupulous area of the city. I considered bringing them back into style, starting in my room.

But, as they say, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, forever limited to conversation topics such as quarterly earnings and water coolers, whatever those are. So, in the spirit of proving to the world that we were still fun individuals, able to jive with the latest trends, we went to trivia night. Our team of Americans, almost entirely motivated by the promise of free food, was vastly unprepared for the slew of questions relating to New Zealand. After two questions about rugby and one about cricket, we accepted that maybe, just maybe, the people next to us using Google were going to beat us.

Sadly, this was the only American sport they asked us about.

Sadly, this was the only American sport they asked us about.

Little excursions like this were what kept me sane when the promise of a weekend day trip, a holdover from my New Zealand youth, was far away. I’ve picked up a few hobbies to help pass the time, most notably guitar, my on again, off again love dating back to my elementary school days. Going to the gym has also been helpful, though I do have to brave the stab-fest that is the path to College Hall.

Let me explain that. The trail up to College Hall, decked out in autumn reds and yellows during the day, is pitch black at night, many of the streetlights having long since gone out. We were told that we should only walk on lit paths, lest something bad happen to us. Evidently, we’re never supposed to leave College Hall.

You can check out any time you like...

You can check out any time you like…

All I want is some American Food!

Right now, I’m at the point in my trip where I am craving some American food! After seeing everyone cooking out for Memorial Day, all that I want is a big juicy cheeseburger. With some macaroni salad on the side, then end the night with a s’more. Luckily for me, we are officially at the halfway point of the trip. I guess I should inform every one of the real reason I’m in Europe. While over here for 4 weeks, I am taking two courses, one in Intercultural Communications and the other Business in the European Union. Since it is a short-term course, we have a lot of work in a short amount of time. I’ve had a lot of practice doing homework on the field hockey bus so I’ve had to put those skills into use when traveling on the weekends. We have a lot of reading and writing is assigned for both courses.

The Business in the European Union course, is taught by an LVC professor. I have found this class to be super interesting. Before, I had no idea what the EU was or the dynamics behind international business. A perk of this class is taking a lot of field trips, we went to the EU along with a field trip to a beer brewery and syrup factory. Prof. Clark believes that we are learning more by traveling and putting our classroom knowledge into practice. As for the other class, which is taught by a Belgium professor, we learn about different cultures and norms around the world. I’ve learned a lot just about the people of the world from taking this class.

After traveling to different cities the past couple weekends I have made the conclusion that Maastricht is my favorite city. I’ve come to love their laid back life style. The city is filled with, what I classify as, classy people, who have a great sense of style. The city itself is beautiful and not as busy as the other cities I’ve been in.

I’ve also missed watching sporting events in English. I am a pretty big ice hockey fan so I’ve been quite upset about missing all of the Stanley Cup games. But even watching soccer games here is hard because it’s in a different language! But not to worry, in about a week we are going to a professional soccer game between the Dutch and U.S.A!! I am overly excited about that and can’t wait to be immersed into the love for this game in Europe.

One of my biggest pet peeves over here is that the word FREE does not exist here. You have to pay for water at every restaurant that you go to which is a complete bummer for me because that is my “go to” back home. Also in some places, you have to pay to use the public bathroom. When we first heard about this we were astonished that we would have to pay for a human need. But we have found ways to get around this annoyance like, always packing a water bottle that can be filled up so we don’t have to spend 2 extra euros on a water.

If you walk around not only Maastricht but Europe in general, Americans would be surprised at the amount of PDA here. No matter where you look there is a couple all over each other. I mean don’t you need a little space every so often?! We were shopping one time in Cologne, Germany and we saw a couple making out in the corner of the store. We couldn’t believe that they would display this type of affection in public, especially in a shopping mall! But one aspect of the PDA that I have come to love is how older couples are still madly in love. We don’t really see this in the U.S. but couples will show their love for each other. Always holding hands when walking and just sitting down to enjoy each other’s company. I would love for America to adapt to this cultural norm.

Before leaving, I was a little nervous of the idea of not working out for 5 weeks and indulging in some of the world’s greatest food. However, thankfully we walk EVERYWHERE here. I have a love hate relationship with this, but the amount of walking is ridiculous. Everyone knows that in Europe you either walk or bike everywhere. Which means I don’t feel so guilty getting that ice cream on the corner! We are walking around 9 miles a day so we are pretty pooped by the end of the day. Even our walk to class one way is 1.4 miles which takes us about 20-25 minutes, which then in turn means we get 25 minutes less sleep.

It’s hard to believe that I only have 17 more days in Europe. If feels like I just got off the plane and was making my way to Maastricht. Although I’m learning a lot, I can’t wait for the classes to be over and not have to worry about any assignments. The last week here a friend and I are traveling to Venice & Barcelona for the week. We are ecstatic to be able to eat a lot of pasta and lay on the beach! The day before we come back we are hitting up Paris on the way to Brussels. We are planning to spend the day there and enjoy the French life. The plan is to leave the city late and arrive at Brussels airport in the wee hours of the morning and just camp out until our plane. We decided that we are just going to sleep and hangout in the airport until the flight so we don’t have to spend any money or time in a hostel.

Today, we went to Eindhoven to visit a company. We started off by listening to a guy named, Piet who is an LVC graduate, talk about his duties in the company. After we went to get a little coffee before our lunch. The afternoon has been one of my best experiences so far in the trip! We ate lunch in the Philips Stadium and the food was delicious. Then we got to take a tour of the stadium and it was so interesting to be able to walk out on the field and see behind the scenes. This made us all so excited for our upcoming USA vs. Netherlands soccer game in about a week!

LVC athletes in the Philips Stadium!!

This weekend, since its only two days, we are traveling to Amsterdam to visit the Anne Frank house and see the sights of the Netherlands’ biggest city!

Places Beyond Belief: Belgium, Germany and Eindhoven

Hello everyone,

On Friday our class had a field trip to Brussels in Belgium! Brussels felt like a “larger” town then Maastricht. At first I felt overwhelmed seeing military police walking around with larger guns. I never saw military police forced in a public setting. I was not sure if I should feel safe or scared. After driving through town we finally arrived at the European Union Parliament building for a tour. I was amazed! I believe we tend to concentrate on the negative aspects of the world so I was amazed that over 751 members who speak 24 different languages come together as a whole and discuss, plan, contain order, and administrate protection, laws, and regulate the countries. Within the European Union there has not been a war within the members of the union since World War II. One negative aspect of the European Union is the language barrier. Our tour guide noted as a joke that if one member is speaking and telling a joke that the interpreter does not know how to translate they will tell their member when to laugh at the joke. Although we can laugh at this example, I cannot imagine how many mistakes are made during these meetings and the loss of value with words spoken that will be missed through translation.

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LVC Crew

LVC Crew

 

 

The next part of our day was participating in a walking tour throughout Brussels and the highlight of the tour was during our walking tour and seeing the “peeing man” statue. I was expecting to see a bigger presence and for the statue to be in the center of the city, but the statue was extremely small and was located down an alley in a corner of a building.  The next picture below you will see a building. It used to operate like New York’s Wall Street, but now the plans are to have the building serve as a beer temple.

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After Brussels I took a train to Bruges! We had to ask a man when to get off because we did not know how to read or communicate in French or Flemish Dutch. He was kind enough to let us know when to get off on our connecting train and which platform to go to next to catch the next train. After arriving in Bruges we had walking and bus directions to our hotel, but we did not realize how open Bruges was going to be. There were no street signs at the train station so we were not sure which direction to go. We started to walk and saw a bus stop and were lucky enough to gain WIFI access.

We were able to connect to google maps, which enabled us to find our hotel. The walk was around 30 minutes long, but felt much longer due to wondering if we were going in the right direction. Once we gained access to our hotel room at Hotel Europ we decided to stay in for the night. The hotel room was not in the worst condition, but we only had one electric outlet and the light bulbs were burnt out. However, the hotel appeared to be clean and was centrally located. The breakfast was also delicious and the view from our room was absolutely perfect because it overlooked a canal.

Our first day in Bruges was fantastic. We saw two weddings, windmills, took a canal tour, went to the 2be beer wall that stored over 1,000 beers, toured an art gallery, went shopping, and finished our night with a carriage ride.

2be beer wall

2be beer wall

Swans were everywhere! It was magical. We also saw two swan nests!

Swans were everywhere! It was magical. We also saw two swan nests!

Part of the contemporary art we viewed

Part of the contemporary art we viewed

During our canal tour the tour guide noted that we were lucky to see this dog relaxing by the window.

During our canal tour the tour guide noted that we were lucky to see this dog relaxing by the window.

Our horse who gave us our tour of the city

Our horse who gave us our tour of the city

Beautiful windmill

Beautiful windmill

After our relaxing and fun time in Bruges it was time to go back home to Maastricht….well that was the plan, but instead we were trapped in the train station due to none of our credit cards working at the train station and no one working at the train station’s information center. These machines do not take cash either. With no WIFI and limited resources we started to ask people to buy our tickets for us and tell them that we would pay them immediately. After being turned down three times finally a nice United Kingdom person bought our tickets for us with their Europe credit card. We were so thankful! We paid them back and sprinted for our train. We made it on the train and caught our next train back to Maastricht!

My next adventure was to Aachen, Germany! Due to it being a holiday and a Sunday all shops were closed, but I had a delicious traditional German meal and toured the town hall! The seats that are located in the meeting room are worth over 2,000 euro each. I learned this from a local and was relieved at the same time I could not sit on a chair that was worth that much!

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Due to the holiday we had an extra day off so I decided to check out Eindhoven in the Netherlands! I did not explore too much due to limited time, but I took a quick tour of the city and my next weekend’s plans are to return to Eindhoven for a music festival that will have the world’s top DJs traveling by helicopter from Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Eindhoven! Needless to say I am excited and cannot wait to share next weekend’s adventure with you!

Shopping mall

The blob!

Bowling art

Bowling art

Football (soccer) dome

Football (soccer) dome

Where next weekend's music festival will be held!

Where next weekend’s music festival will be held!

 

Church

Church

 

As always it is like a fairy tale returning back to Maastricht!

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Thank you for reading,

Corby Myers

Cheers to a bloody good weekend!

So after 4 days of classes, everyone was feeling the stress of taking two 4-week courses. Although both classes are interesting, no one wants to be doing work when we are immersed in the European culture. This week we have learned a lot about the European Union, which has changed my mind about international business. Also, our intercultural communication class is teaching us just how little we know about the rest of the world and different cultures. The stereotype that Americans aren’t culturally diverse is sadly true.

Of course, we can’t spend more than 4 days in the classroom so we took a field trip to the European Union in Brussels. It was very interesting to see the parliament chambers and hear about the EU. However, the informational session was quite boring to me because our Business in the European Union class taught by Prof. Clark fully informed me of how legislation works within the EU.

EU business class

LVC Class Business in the European Union in the parliament room with Professor Clark!

 

LVCFH

#LVCFH takes over the EU holding the Netherland flag

After the EU, we toured Brussels. When first entering the grand plaza I was amazed by the historical building accented with gold. However, spending more than an hour in the city, I realized Brussels isn’t my favorite city. Sure it is known for their chocolate, fries and beer. Which I can say the phenomenon about these foods are true. Chocolate was good, especially all of the free samples in the stores … And the fries were tasty as well. Especially when they are on top of a large sub, know to the locals as Metaill. But what surprised me most was the lack of “Belgium waffles.” We were all so pumped to get a sweet and hot waffle, but after eating it, I must say it wasn’t that impressive. Even our tour guide commented that the hype behind the waffles isn’t true.

Belgin Waffles

Waffles and Coffee

It is safe to say I didn’t mind my time in Brussels but I don’t have a desire to go back due to the touristy feel. On every street there was at least two cheap overrated souvenir stores. Then add a big foreign tour group trying to stomp through the city and you find yourself at a state of displeasure. I think I was officially “over” the city when we saw the Peeing Boy statue. I was expecting to see a decently sized fountain with this iconic image. However we were all discouraged, when we saw the 24 inch young boy peeing into a small pool on a street corner, NOT what we expected at all.

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Little Peeing Boy Staute

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View from the Grand Plaza in Brussels

Now the next stop of the list, is London! We are all so excited to finally be at a destination where we speak the same language!

At first London wasn’t really appealing to me. Expensive prices, not the cleanest city and it rains almost everyday. But after a few days there, I realized that it isn’t so bad after all. Our first day in the city was filled with tourist activities. We saw Big Ben, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and two of the girls did the London Eye. We got to see a lot but there were soooo many people in that part of London that it took away from the attractions. And due to such high prices (and the conversion being almost 150% to the US dollar) being horrible, we couldn’t afford to go into any of the big attractions. However, we did find a cheap boat ride that took us along the Thames River. But before the boat tour, we were wandering around the water and found a really cool dock that led out into a little piece of the river which allowed us to see a secret view of the tower of London, it was pretty awesome, we felt like townies!

That night we got fish and chips from an iconic restaurant, Poppies! And it was amazing! After, we went around to different bars and met a lot of cool people from all around the world. After it was all said and done, we walked 27,000 steps which is about 12 miles!! To say we were tired was an understatement!

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The next day we set aside for a little shopping in London, but we each only bought one or two things that were pretty cheap! Due to our tired bodies from the day before, we invested in a 5 pound all day bus pass which was well worth it! That afternoon we also did afternoon tea, like true British people do. We went to a place called Soho Secret Tea Room, and it was very reasonably priced for our tea! At this point I realized that London was a lot like New York. There were a lot of different people and languages which surprised me. I was expecting to go and everyone be the stereotypical British person. But due to this, we met a lot of cool people, like the three Aussie guys that we met at our hostel. They were just backpacking around Europe and we had a great time chatting with them!

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea

Now I’m just waiting in the airport for our flight back to Brussels. I have come to the conclusion that London didn’t exceed my expectations but it was still a good time. My favorite part was our last dinner in the city. We went to a spot called St. Katherine’s Dock, which was a really quaint dock that was surrounded by little eateries. We had an Italian meal and it was very tasty! On the walk back to the hostel, this is what we saw.

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Tower of London! my favorite attraction of them all

And this is when I realized that London is a very beautiful city filled with history. I just had to get away from all of the crowds to actually take it all in. London isn’t on the top of my list to visit again, but it was a great time while I was here! Now let’s hope we don’t ruin this bloody good weekend by getting lost on the trains again!

The American Dream

This is a story about home. Actually, maybe that’s not entirely accurate. I suppose that, when one really examines the content of this story, one sees that it is about remembering home when away from home, when in the home of kiwis and sheep, with some particularly homely weather. Got it?

You're lucky they don't play baseball here.

You’re lucky they don’t play baseball here.

New Zealand does not have a rainy season. Anything that you have been told about the country receiving copious amounts of rain in the autumn months is a blatant lie, and the person that has told you these lies has already been tracked down and taken in for mandatory reeducation. If you are in New Zealand in the autumn and see droplets of water descending from the sky, as if dropped by some unseen being beyond the clouds, do not be alarmed, for it is not rain. If it were rain, it would stop after a reasonable amount of time, and not continue for days. No, what you are seeing is not rain. It is something incomprehensible, unleashed for some unknown purpose, perhaps the cleaning of rooftops or the enjoyment of ducks.

Regardless of the origins of these frequently and lengthy cascades of water, many students over at the University of Waikato have taken to staying inside and relaxing as of late. And when one stays inside and relaxes, one visits social media sites. And when one visits social media sites, one sees an inevitable slew of vacation and graduation pictures (Congrats, Class of 2015!). Between the fall of rain that was not rain outside and the shiny, happy pictures posted on Facebook walls, one does not feel particularly motivated to finish out classes.

Occasionally, when I walk outside, and the grounds crew is manning the massive lawnmowers that sweep through the athletic fields, I’ll catch a whiff of that wonderful combination of cut grass and gasoline. Suddenly, I’ll be back at a park in my hometown, where the scent is almost lost amidst other scents, of burgers and waffle cones and maybe a hint of wood smoke. Somewhere close by, there is a band playing, a blur of people gathered right below the stage dancing in a big happy throng. But the band is background noise, an accompaniment to a good conversation among friends, reclined on lawn chairs and blankets, trapped in the throes of summer like the Lotus Eaters, with no need or means of escape. The sun, though already low in the sky, has dipped further in the last eternity, though I could tell no passage of time. Out came the fireflies to take its place, wheeling tantalizingly out of reach. One comes to rest on my finger, and I’m walking to class again, the ground is covered in leaves, and clouds are already blocking out the sun for the fifth day in a row.

But occasionally, on good days, the clouds will part and I’ll do something interesting.

I woke up at four one morning to catch a bus to Auckland. The transportation center where I stood for the better part of an hour was across the street from the Peaches and Cream adult shop, a name that I have been saying with less and less irony these days.

I had come to the city to meet a friend, also travelling abroad, and on his way home from Australia. We had hoped to make our way out to one of the many islands off of Auckland’s coast, but the attendants at the wharf informed us that the trip was closed due to weather.

I can really see how this would be a problem.

I can really see how this would be a problem.

So we chose a different island and set off. Waiheke is primarily known for its wine and beachside houses, neither things that either of us were capable of affording, but we tried to make the best of the horrors of being trapped on a sunny island for the day. Planning a budget expedition was fairly easy, replacing wine with cider and cheese with fries. Part of me would love to return some day and sip wine by the ocean, but until then, I’ll just have to content myself by yelling impotently at the grapevines and stepping all over their nice beach.

Take that, 1%.

Take that, 1%.

But even without the eighty degree weather and enterprising lawnmowers, it felt like I had stepped back into the lull of summer again.

“Children” of Italy

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One might think that they are about to read an article about the young culture in Italy, but one must not take the title “Children of Italy” at face-value. Throughout my experiences in Italy thus far, I continually find illustrations of an analogy made in class. This analogy compared philosophical thinking to the perspective of a new born infant entering the world (which would be an unfamiliar place). The infant may wander about and explore its surroundings while being completely subjective. While we, as new study abroad students, curiously wander in the same way, but with subjectivity due to our past experiences. How can we justify this analogy and how can we use philosophical thinking to preserve the authenticity that the rich Italian culture has to offer us?

Throughout my experiences not just in Italy, but in life, I find that each event that occurs adds a certain skill or a certain bit of knowledge to my tool kit. But in order to be a part of these events, one must constantly question, wonder about, observe, and explore surroundings, behaviors, and unfamiliarities just as a baby will walk up to an object they have never seen before and put it in their mouth or throw it. This analogous situation can be related to foreigners visiting a country. In a way, we as study abroad students are “children of Italy.” Just as the newborn, we must not be subjective in order to be completely immersed in this unfamiliar place. We are seeing everything with fresh eyes and are constantly questioning our own behavior due to our new surroundings. Generally, we are approaching Italian culture including etiquette, cuisine, and language just as the newborn infant is approaching an unfamiliar item; with curious and questioning minds, but also with the motivation to pick the item up, observe it, and explore it in a way that will ultimately open up our minds to the aspects of the world that have been unknown to us in the past.

One advantage that we as “children of Italy” have over newborns is comparison. As a foreigner, I am constantly comparing everything that I see in Italy to my homeland. This can be helpful but also destructive. I am now attempting to reject comparisons to the United States because it does not fully allow me to experience the authenticity of this country. Authenticity is something that does not exist to most Americans because as Americans, we are used to preconceived views of certain cuisines and cultures. If we were to experience Italian culture authentically, we would have to erase these preconceptions to experience the full potential and take in the very essence of the food and the behavior. Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to reject these conceptions due to our familiarities with certain foods which we relate to names and titles. For example, we know what pizza “should” taste like because someone in America decided to prepare it a certain way. In this way, and in some senses, subjective experience destroys true authenticity.

Americanization is a powerful development within society that challenges what we can understand as being truly authentic. Once we enter a different country, we begin to try to understand the differences between the actual culture in that place and the American version of this culture. This realization can be stressful and frustrating to us because it is uncomfortable and unsettling. When we are not used to our surroundings this stress will persist until we accept the reality that it is how people live every day. It is hard to remove ourselves from the idea that we are not in America anymore. I have heard the phrase “I can’t believe I’m here” countless times since I have been around other Americans in Italy. This disbelief is related to the fact that it is difficult for us to understand why a certain culture is different from our own. It is hard for one to believe that an entire population has spent their entire life span living a different way than our population has. We must move past this to understand that cultures are not based off of a comparison to our own. Italian culture should be analyzed for what it is, not what it is not. Although we have the tendency to analyze our own culture in this way, I believe that all cultures should be analyzed without comparison. We must not let these comparisons distract us from the fact that certain cultures are not built off of one model, but were simply invented through time, place, and development of a specific identity.

As a child, new to Italy, I will continue to question and explore everything in addition to attempting to reject preconceptions that have been instilled in my American mind since birth. As my new experiences persist, I will attempt to resist familiarities to truly live through the native Italians around me. By immersing myself in a distinct culture, I will continuously add to my palette of tastes and tools, but also will open up curiosities and questions that have never been explored before.

I AMsterdam!

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Hello everyone,

This past weekend was a blast in Amsterdam! Unfortunately we waited too long to book a hotel so we made two trips back to Amsterdam; however, it ended up being cheaper in the long run! Our first day to Amsterdam we took two busses to get to Keukenhof for the tulip tour. This tour was absolutely beautiful! I like flowers, but I never thought I would spend hours in flower fields. I was honestly amazed! This is the only time to see and tour the tulips so we were very fortunate to be here at this time!

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Our next adventure was walking through the Red Light district. This was definitely the most emotion I have felt during this trip. I felt sad because most of the women who are working the Red Light district do this involuntary. They are promised professional dance professions, not to work in the Red Light district. Having prior knowledge about the Red Light district was learned from  research, which helped me prepare for this experience.

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This experience gave me more of appreciation for our lives at home that have security, safety, and stability.

The next day we returned to Amsterdam by train. We went to the Heineken experience tour, which was a new experience for me. It almost reminded me of Hershey’s Chocolate tour, but more intricate. The Heineken experience tour took you through the brewing information. After we walked through each step we went on Brew You Ride. You stood up and grabbed on the railing in front of you. The floor moved and shifted as well as different liquid substances squirted out toward us while we were being transformed into beer. After the process was completed we were poured into the bottles and then transported into a box. After being transported into the bottles we were put into a box and transported to a “party”.

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Bubbles were being blown at us during this part of the ride.

Bubbles were being blown at us during this part of the ride.

 

After the Heineken experience tour we went on a canal tour. This tour was very nice because the tour guide pointed out the historical part of Amsterdam. It was very nice to be seated and relaxed during this time. We felt like Amsterdam was almost like New York before going on the canal tour. The appreciation of this city was gained through the history knowledge and learning experiences with the tour. For an example without the long line for the Anne Frank house we would have never found the house without the canal tour. The picture below shows the longest channels of canals in Amsterdam.

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Our last adventure was the Amsterdam Icebar! This tour is for people of all ages. There were small children with their parents for this experience. We walked into a rather large bar in order to gain entrance into the actual icebar. We were given special warm coats and gloves to keep us warm during our time there. There were sculptures and objects that were frozen into the actual icebar. Music was played and disco balls shined throughout. It was a nice way to end the evening and our time in Amsterdam!

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Our last adventure of the weekend was going to the highest peak of the Netherlands and being in three countries at one time. The three countries included the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. There are borders that separate the countries from one another, but the structures and buildings allow you to observe the differences.

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Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for my next adventure to Brussels, Bruges, and Ghent!

Thank you again,

Corby Myers

The First Taste of European Adventure

So we were tortured this week with one day of class! From 9-6 we were in our Intercultural Communication class which is being taught by a Dutch professor. She is extremely nice and knowledge about different cultures around the world. This class seems really interesting and we are all very excited to learn more about how different cultures do business.

But in class everyone’s mind was on our 4-day weekend! My friends and I were planning to go the Keukenhof Tulip farm, near Amsterdam. We actually found a really awesome deal online that included train, bus and entrance for a very reasonable price. Once we got to the fields, we were all quite surprised to see that this attraction was kind of like an amusement park with tulips in it. It was so beautiful, different colored flowers filled the spaces between the sidewalks and it was a perfect sunny day for the occasion. Finally, we got out to the main field where there are apparently rows of tulips. But little to our knowledge, they already dug up those fields so we didn’t get to see that section.

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Keukenhof

My favorite part of Keukenhof was the authentic Dutch singers. We heard them throughout the park as we were walking through. When we got to the section we walked up and saw a group of realistic dressed Dutch people singing their favorite songs. There was a crowd gathered and the people who knew the lyrics was singing along and everyone was swaging from side to side with the music. It was my favorite part of this whole day!

That night we headed to Cologne, Germany! We took a train there and it was an adventure finding all of our different connections! Thank goodness for the friendly Dutch people who helped us find our way around. When we were leaving the station, we walked out and was overly surprised by how close the cathedral was to the station. We walked out at 11:00 at night and all was astonished by the sight. The first words out of our mouths were, “OH MY GOD!!!” I couldn’t believe how tall, big and beautiful it was, especially at night!

Cologne

After roaming the streets for a couple of minutes we found our hostel, which was pretty nice! We actually ended up meeting fellow French students who were in town to study architecture. That night we stayed up till 2 in the morning just talking and getting to know each other. It was a great experience to hear about their life in France and share some information about the United States.

Friday was filled with sightseeing! The morning started off with a typical European breakfast, a pastry and coffee. I have to say I don’t mind it at all! Around noon we took a boat tour of the Rhine river. With our student discount we got an extremely good deal! On the boat tour we saw the Lindt’s Chocolate Museum so of course that was next up on the list! However, it was pretty much like Hershey’s Chocolate World with more history, so we were a little disappointed we picked that over something else. but it was still fun. After the tour we had sausage and fries, which was a wonderful German meal! That night we just explored the night life of Cologne!

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Little to our knowledge, Cologne has an unbelievable amount of stores. Which with a group of four girls lead to a lot of shopping. That night we met up with our new French friends and enjoyed a night out on the town which was a lot of fun! There were a lot of bachelor and bachelorette parties which incurred a lot of funny task. Its hard to believe but we called an early night in the European culture and went to bed around 3. In Europe, unlike the United States, people go out to the bars late and stay out until 6 am. Its hard to believe that people can actually get up the next morning but they do somehow. This might explain why people take such long lunch breaks during the day because they are so tired that they can’t work too hard. I also had an amazing German meal that night of Sausage and potato salad, it was to die for!

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Sunday we headed back to school, which was an interesting trip. We were on what we thought was the last train before our stop. However, we got off at a wrong station in the middle of no where. At this point we had no idea if were in Germany or the Netherlands…. It was just us four girls at a single platform train station not even knowing if any more trains were coming… Thankfully more trains had passed by but not in the direction we needed. FINALLY, after an hour wait, a train was headed in the right direction. But of course with our luck, one group member just went out to the bushes to go to the bathroom because it was a very long day, so of course we couldn’t leave without her.

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Our reaction to missing the second train….

So there we were once again just siting at a train station hopping for another train to pass by within the next hour. About 30 minutes later a train finally came and we got back to Maastricht!

This weekend was so much fun and it has made me not want to do any homework. After today’s class, we are all feeling the stress of completing a course in 3 weeks. Tonight was dedicated to LOTS OF ENDLESS reading and booking our next trip to London!