John, outbound to Netherlands

Hello again!
Yes, I know that two weeks does not equal over a month, but I lose weeks here and there so I feel a little less bad about that than I probably should. It turns out that time moves by way too fast when you are on exchange. In the United States, the days and weeks crawl by. With the inexorable approach of events like Halloween and the onset of weather cooler than 25 degrees (wait… make that 77 degrees… Celsius problems) September and October seem to drag on forever.

In this country, the thermostat drops below 60 degrees during September and never climbs above there from then on out. Also, they don’t celebrate Halloween outside of their theme park, Walibi World, so there is no anticipation for any kind of great holiday looming on October 31st. Maybe I would be more focused on the passage of time if I had to deal with a rigorous study regimen or a schedule of tests to remember, but I didn’t even know I was going to have this week off from school at the b eginning of last week.

All in all, time is passing by as fast as I can enjoy it, which is really quite quickly. I was all ready to Skype with Lania for an informational meeting when I realized that it had happened the week previous and I had completely missed it. I was still saying I’d only been in the Netherlands for almost two months until I realized that I was about halfway to my third month already.

It is becoming clearer to me how easy it might be to miss a year like this entirely by not participating in your host family’s life, in the events of your school or your Rotary club, or by simply not accepting any and all the opportunities that are offered to you. For instance, if I had said no to going with my Rotary club and another Rotary club from England to Friesland for a day tour, I would have missed out on meeting some wonderful people and seeing some amazing things. My reason for my almost-rejection was the people would all be older than me and I would feel out of place, but it was quite the opposite. I met and, I’d like to think, befriended a good number of the British Rotarians, who were excellent people to be around and to share my experiences with. There is nothing quite like being a Floridian touring Friesland with British people discussing all the interesting features of the Dutch. It was a truly enjoyable occasion that I almost entirely missed.

Another great experience I was a part of was the celebration of Hug an Exchange Student Day in Utrecht. It was arranged somehow using some magic of social media, and whoever finally got everyone in the same place deserves a medal of some kind. The occasion was a great rendezvous of all three main exchange student organizations in the Netherlands: RYE, AFS and YFU. If I hadn’t already been returning to Dronten from a friend’s birthday party in Rotterdam through Utrecht, I probably wouldn’t have gone considering train costs and general time used, but fortunately for me Utrecht is directly between Rotterdam and Zwolle, an important city on the route back to Dronten.

When we were finally united with all the other exchange students, it was an awesome experience that I might have just skimmed over without thinking twice. I got to meet people f rom Estonia, Italy, China, France and other countries I’d never seen people from before, including more people from great countries like Finland, South Africa and Argentina. We all moved in a group of different nationalities through the streets of Utrecht, getting free hugs from strangers and from each other. We even brought “Hug Me” signs that had reasonable success.

The moral of the story… Ew. Nevermind.

Impossibly long story a hair shorter, I am really enjoying my exchange. I have a few days when I wonder why on earth I couldn’t go to Hungary or to a more populated place like Amersfoort, where I was originally going in the Netherlands, but then I get over it because there is always something I can be doing somewhere. There is always something better to think about, and if I start blaming things on other people or just the work of the universe, that does not help anything. Thank you for teaching me valuable life lessons, League of Legends. And with that alliteration, I will bid you all goodnight. Or good afternoon to the US. Or morning in Asia. As some people say, it’s always 5:00 somewhere.
Tot ziens!

To see my home page and some photos click HERE