I just came back from a brief holiday to the Dutch island Terschelling. It certainly wasn't a tropical island though... The wind was howling like crazy on the first day but luckily the weather got better as time went by. I got to know my extended host family a lot better and It was great fun. One thing I am confused about in the Netherlands is ticks in the dunes. In NZ if you go to the beach and run around in the sand dunes the only thing you have to worry about is sand down your pants... but here in the Netherlands you always have to check for ticks. If you get a tick you have to get it out asap otherwise you could get lyme disease (pretty serious, eek) None of this stopped me though, We played verstoppetje (hide and seek) in the dunes for hours and none of us got ticks...
I've had a super last couple of weeks with a lot of exploring and fun! Two weekends ago I travelled to the southern province Limburg with my host family, we went to the Drielandenpunt (a place where Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany all meet) We also went to the highest point in the Netherlands, the two places were conveniently in the same spot! We stayed with some friends of my host family in a really cool village and I got to practice my Dutch a lot with the kids there. Last weekend was Hemelvaartsvakantie (four day weekend) and we travelled to Zeeland. Did you know New Zealand was actually named by Abel Tasman after the dutch province Zeeland?! We stayed in a fancy campsite with a bouncy pillow, indoor playground, flying fox and swimming pool. We cycled to the Deltaworks and across a few of the famous Dutch dykes. We also cycled to a nature reserve called Neeltje Jans. Unfortunately I got a stomach bug and vomited a few times on one of the days but I recovered quickly and had a great time. There was a bustling beach near our campsite and we visited it a few times. Not to mention that it was 24-28 degrees the whole time so it was super lekker weather!
One of the things that I love about the Netherlands is how varying it is and close everything is. You get a bit of everything here, Beautiful forests, stunning beaches, giant cities, historic cultural places... The only thing they don't have are mountains but we have plenty of them in NZ so I don't mind :)
Last Sunday on the 13th of April I went into Amsterdam with Esther, Tui and Becky ( Es and Joels friend from England). We had a great time! We went to Body worlds museum, at the museum they displayed real dead bodies. It was so interesting and surprisingly not creepy. We also discovered that it was Tony Chocolonely's 10th birthday and they were giving away free chocolate! Tui and I stocked up and I really want to go back there. If you come to The Netherlands I really recommend trying Tony's Chocolonely because it is so delicious and they're goal is for the world to have a 100% slavery free chocolate world.
Last month I partook in the the 2019 youth climate strike. It was an experience I will never forget. I travelled by train with my friends to Amsterdam and we walked from Dam square to Museum square chanting and showing the we care about the climate and our futures. Over 6,000 students took part in the strike and I am so glad I did too.
Hagelslag is another dutch speciality. It consists of a slice of bread with butter and white, milk or Dark chocolate sprinkles, It is really tasty but in my host family we have a rule of only one slice of bread with hagelslag per day because otherwise the whole box is devoured within a week.
Boerenkoel is a traditional dutch dinner, It is mashed potato with kale and a curvy sausage on top. Although mashed potato and kale doesn't sound great it is actually delicious and one of my new favourites.
Last of all is the warme chocolade melk. It is pretty much the same as any other cultures hot chocolate except it almost always comes with a huge swirl of slagroom (whipped cream) on top. The cream makes it just so much better and I don't mind that it is less healthy :)
A few weeks before I arrived in Holland my host family contacted me to ask if I wanted to run in the famous Vondelparc loop with them and their extended family. At first I was a little sceptical as in my head I thought that I would need time to settle in before trying out new things but then I remembered NZIIU and Travel Actives advice, "try out the first 5 things you wouldn't normally do" so I entered the event and a few weeks later did it. It was a great way to bond with people I am going to see a lot in the next half year and I have no regrets.
Pictured here is my host uncle, Me and my host mum Esther
My orientation in Soest was exciting. I met so many friendly people in the same situation as me and it was nice to connect with others who know how you're feeling. Our first day was in in Amsterdam where we did the "This is Holland 5D experience" and went up to the A'DAM lookout, we then drove off to the Jaap Eden ice skating rink and I learnt to ice skate! While on the orientation we spent two days of intense but really helpful dutch lessons and also cycled to nearby historical town Amersfoort. I had a superb time while on the orientation I made some great friends that I hope to see again soon. On the Saturday after I arrived my host family came to pick me up and we headed to Haarlem, my home for the next 6 months.