Orientation, Pancakes, and more.

Trip Start Aug 17, 2009
Trip End Jul 20, 2010

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Flag of Netherlands  , Zuid-Holland,
Saturday, August 22, 2009

I can't believe I’ve already been here for 4 days. It still just seems so surreal.  Thursday and Friday were spent over at the Webster campus going through orientation.  My cohort has our own orientation Monday afternoon, I’m sure this one will be more focused on the actual city and less on the general program. 

Orientation has been interesting.  They spent Thursday scarring everyone with dire warnings about getting 2 C’s and being out of the program, and how they carried some people farther than they should have last year and will not be doing that this year.  These warnings were followed by the countless admonitions about using alcohol and drugs as a way to cope with the stress of culture shock and of the program.  Friday we got to paint in our Culture Shock seminar.  We were lined up with a piece of paper in front of us had to paint a road, that matched up with our neighbor’s road and the edges all had to match our neighbor’s colors, all done without talking.  After a few minutes, we then moved 2 paper’s down and had to work on that painting, and so forth until we were back to our own.  Very interesting, sort of frustrating.  Our afternoon session had to do with financial aid, refunds, budget, and more dire warnings about alcohol (apparently this was a big issue with last year’s group, so they are trying to stop it now).  However, after all these warnings, we find out that one of our coordinators (he’s sort of the social coordinator, makes sure we are adjusting fine to each campus and don’t have personal issues that prevent us from succeeding), likes to come visit each cohort at least once and to talk with us one-on-one, and that he will take us out to the bar when he comes.  When we are in Geneva, he will also take us to his 500 year old house in Burgundy for a wine tasting and touring weekend.  Fun!

Dinner Friday night was at Oust Leiden, a Pancake House.  These are NOT breakfast pancakes, and while there was syrup on the table, it wasn’t really used.  I had a delicious and huge pancake with mushrooms and cheese.  It was about 18" across, on a giant Delft plate.  I was not able to finish it.  After dinner and some pictures with the whole group in the square several people in my cohort had our TA take us for coffee (not "coffee”).  The coffee trip turned into a pub crawl with our TA and one of our Professors, actually the Academic Director of the program.  We ended the pub crawl at the British Pub around the corner from our apartments, where the bartenders are required to speak in English!  Yep, it’s our new favorite place.  The pints of cider here were what finally got all of us, so at 2:30 this morning we made our way home, although I we didn’t actually crawl into bed until 4. 

Because of this I missed Saturday morning, rolling out of bed at 12:45 to meet several ladies in my cohort at 1:30 for lunch and a discussion about our reading.  We walked around Leiden until we found a lovely café off a park, were we had lunch and coffee, ended up not talking about the readings, but were pestered by one very persistent bee, which seemed to like Rebecca and her sandwich more than anything else.  He finally crawled into the Sprite bottle where I trapped him with a glass, and broke the glass!!  So you will all be happy to know that I haven’t lost my touch!  ;) 

After lunch and a quick stop at the store for spices and paper towels, I returned to my room to read for class.  Having just settled in to my IKEA chair (the entire room looks like it was decorated from the IKEA catalog, btw) and cracked open the book I heard a very loud BOOM and then music.  And down the canal comes a boat with a band on it playing very loud music.  I hope the video comes through and you can enjoy the scene I had from my window.  It was great.  Happy Summer Saturday in Leiden!

The rest of the weekend and most of Monday I will probably spend studying for class.  I have my first class on Tuesday, Intro. to International Relations.  On Thursday I have International Law.  We also have a Professional Seminar at each of our European locations (read “Field Trips”).  Here we will be visiting the International Criminal Court, NATO, the UN, the International Nuclear Weapons Agency (or whatever it is called), and we will be going to Brussels on September 17-18.  In other places we will be visiting the IMF, the UN again, and in London we have passes to the Chatham House.  If you do not know what Chatham House is, it is a huge think tank for International Affairs, one of the best in the world.  To give you an idea of what a big deal this is, professors at Ivy League schools have trouble accessing Chatham House.  Yes, it is THAT BIG OF A DEAL!  We actually all have 1 year access to Chatham House and its library, as well as to the UN library when we are in Geneva.  No Professional Seminar in Thailand, although one of the professors does set up some trips, instead we will have our INTL6000 class, the dreaded Capstone Paper, a.k.a. Mini Thesis, I’m still trying to decide what to write on.

So that’s what has been going on.  Lots of work coming up, about 60 hours of outside of class work each week.  Several of us are going to try to fit in a trip to Amsterdam sometime in the next few weeks, and I'm considering a possible a trip to Sweden or Norway for a weekend, but that is up in the air at the moment.  That’s it for now. 
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jachbach on

First weekend
LOVE the band boat! What a show right out your window. Watch out for the 'coffee shop'/pub crawl after effects--no canal swimming!
Great updates; can't wait to see more.
Love ya!

carannco on

Love your blog so far, Heather
Hi Heather. I'm a long, long time friend of your mom's. I just found her on FB and she told me of your up-coming travels, & here you are. It's so great to SEE you experiencing them! I loved the boat & music down the canal. I just started reading and will continue your journey with you! God Bless You & your cohort!

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