Rose, outbound to Netherlands

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Currently I am on my spring break here in the Netherlands. We actually call it our "May Vacation". It's a two week break which happens to also be my last break before school lets out.

It seems like a lot of things I've been doing lately have been described as my "last". I have 80 days before I go home. These days I try to enjoy everything that I do to it's fullest extent. A lot of what I do these days are going to be the last time I do them. For now, at least. 

For example, I had my school gala the other day. Well, I helped with it at least, because that's what the "junior" class does. And while I was there I realized that the gala was really my last school event here in the Netherlands. While that realization was heartbreaking, I enjoyed myself tremendously. I think knowing that some of these things are my last time doing them make me enjoy them more. All of my Dutch friends were there, and while there was drama involved (it's a building full of teenagers, you can't expect anything different), I just couldn't stop thinking of how much I am going to miss all the people I have met on exchange. Dancing the night away in a tee shirt and leggings with friends in beautiful ball gowns is truly a memory I will hold on to forever.

I actually spent Easter with my friends. Well, the night of Easter and well into second Easter. The Dutch have two of every holiday; second Christmas, second Easter, even second Passover. First Easter day I spent with my wonderful host family. They really are a fun group. 

First we headed to Rotterdam to see my host dad's father. Although it was hard to communicate with him, I thought it was wonderful to meet him. This man is 96 and still is very witty. After that we headed to a soccer game. That day Feyenoord was playing against Utrecht, and my host dad is a die-hard fan of Feyenoord. By nature, I love watching sports. We had a great time yelling and whooping and laughing. Feyenoord won 2-0. 

After the game we headed to my host grandmother's host back on the other side of the country. The whole family ate around one table as they laughed and shared their stories. They really try to make me feel like I am just part of the gang and not the "American exchange student". That evening I was picked up by a friend of mine and we headed to "Paasvuur".

While it's not surprising that the Dutch have a different way of celebration holidays, this one is just really different. Every Easter, certain towns throw a bunch of sticks together to create a story (or stories) tall mountain. Then, when the sun goes down, they burn it. It burns for hours while people stand near it with music blasting and they just watch it. Kids pick up nearby sticks and throw it in there, as if there weren't enough. They do it to symbolize the transition from winter to spring. I was just glad that it was so warm next to the fire. 

So me and my friends stood next to the fire for a while. Just socializing the time away. What we were really waiting for was for the party to start. The real party. If there is one thing you can say about the Dutch is that they love to throw parties for everything. I love it, it's really helped me meet new people and become closer to the friends I already have. So, on Easter, I watched sports, ate way too much, and partied the night away. And for the first major holiday, I didn't feel a twinge of homesickness. Of course I missed my family but I didn't feel the urge to hop on the next plane and fly home. I really just was content with were I was and who I was with. 

So now, here I am: in love with a country, and a life, that I have to say goodbye to in just 80 short days. And already, I am torn between two places. I love my friends and family back in America and I completely understand the language and culture. Yet I also love my friends and family here, and while I don't always understand the culture or language, I've just fallen in love with the history and the people here. I just know for a fact that I am not ready to let it go. Yet I am excited to go back home and eat the food and see the people and feel the familiar sun on my face. I'm already torn between two places, and I'm not even back yet.

But even though I am torn, and scared, and full of dread, I'm on May Vacation, and I am going to love it.