I got a bit behind!

Trip Start Aug 21, 2007
Trip End Jan 21, 2008

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I am sorry for the long delay! I am alive and well, no worries!
Wow, I don't even know where to begin filling you in...let's see.
I had a month off of school for fall break. That was nice, but I think it lasted a bit too long. I got lazy during that time. Meghan (my sister for those of you who do not know), came to visit me for a little over a week. It was nice to have her here although we didn't spend much time in Holland. We took a week long "Euro trip." The trip consisted of Berlin, Barcelona and Rome. Berlin was freezing the two days we were there. We realized that we are horrible tourists and didn't know what to do with ourselves. We ended up watching Chuck und Larry (yes, it was in German) the first night and wandering around the mall. At the metro station I was approached by someone that spoke Italian to me because he thought I was Italian. That was a bit strange. We got better as the week went along. Berlin was by far my favorite hostel but my least favorite city. Our next stop was Barcelona. Barcelona had beautiful weather while we were there and we were very thankful for that. We were overjoyed the first day we loved Barcelona so much. We walked for a few hours then ate dinner on the trip people watching. I loved being near the ocean! We spent some time seeing the tourist spots and wandering around the city. I got the opportunity to use a little bit of my Spanish skills, which was nice. Gaudi Park was absolutely beautiful and involved SO much walking up hill! They even had escalators outside for the trip up hill! After a few days in Barcelona we set off for Rome. I messed up and brought us to the wrong airport so we missed our flight, but it worked out alright in the end. Rome, the highlight of the trip! We saw the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, a Spanish castle, the Coliseum, the Ancient City and a few other places. It rained for two days of our three in Rome, but it was still my favorite place! The food was delicious and the people were nice. I just did not like the way the metro was run, it ended at 9 pm which left us stranded at the airport all night our last night in Rome. That was not a pleasant experience, but it was definitely an experience. I have posted some of the pictures from the trip.
A few days after I returned from that trip I went on a 4 day trip to Germany with some classmates. We went to Cologne, Dusseldorf, and a few smaller cities. It was a really relaxing trip and it was fun to hang out with my classmates and learn more about how they live. I did realize after that trip that visiting cities and just wandering around was of very little interest to me. I started feeling like every city had a shopping strip, a rich street, and a city center. They all started feeling the same to me. I prefer the small towns that have a unique character of their own.
The next weekend I went to Den Hague, Holland. I had a generous offer to stay at the sister's of a friend of mine from UW-Stout. The sister, her husband and their two young boys live in an apartment overlooking the North Sea. It was absolutely beautiful! The first day there, Heather (the friend I brought with- from New York) and I walked all the way from the central station to the apartment on the sea which turned out to be 15 miles. It was a bit longer than we expected. During the time it took us it rained 15 times, hailed 6 or 7, and both of our umbrellas broke. My umbrella bent in half on the middle stem part. It seems we showed up for a freak storm. The wind speeds were 60 mph off the sea and all the citizens had been warned to stay inside for the weekend. Heather and I had not been alerted and so we had been wandering around in the storm and had even gone out on the pier to see the waves up close. They were crashing over the pier, which was really cool to see! I got made fun of by a nice man for my lack of knowledge of the Dutch language, which was a good reason to give me a hard time. He said "even young children can speak Dutch." I really should have stuck to my Dutch class, but I think it may be good looking at my work load now towards the end of the semester. Within the next two weeks I have all my semester long projects due (all group work and all put off until now by all of us). For international marketing I have a case study presentation and paper as well as an international marketing plan for a company of our choice to enter into a foreign market. My group chose Clif Bar (thanks Mom for the package, it inspired my group project!) in New Zealand (which oddly enough is where our teacher is from- Not the reason we chose that country though...we chose it because it is English speaking and they are the "test market" for entering into the Australian market). We are only a small part of the way into the project and it is already 30 pages long. I think it will end up being at least 70 pages. For my business to business marketing class we have to create a marketing plan for an innovative product. My group created this really high tech smart fridge for restaurants primarily. That paper is going to be close to 50 pages in the end. For my business performance tools class we have to create a balanced scorecard for a company. I am in a group of all guys and we ended up choosing Porsche. Yes...I was outvoted. That one is another 20 pages. Overall, the next two weeks will bring quite a bit of paperwork and writing time. I think the way this school structure is made is smart because it prepares us for the real life business world, but I really do not enjoy group work. It is extremely frustrating for me. I look forward to getting back to Stout and having individual assignments again. I haven't had them almost all semester! Anyways, that was a bit of a tangent. The rest of my weekend in Den Hague was wonderful. I basically relaxed and took walks along the sea. I got to go to church, which was great! There was an English speaking church nearby and they took me with them on Sunday. I also babysat the two boys and played with them. It was nice because it felt more like home than Arnhem did. I got to use the LAN line to call home. That was beautiful because I didn't get disconnected every few minutes and I actually got to carry on a conversation with my family. I even got to wish Nick a happy birthday! Over that weekend I also visited Delft which is the home of the blue and white hand painted china. I loved the town! It was so quant and wonderful! I would love to spend more time there. I did some of my Christmas shopping so that I could send it home with the people that I was staying with (they are from MN near Maple Grove and they were going home the next week). They were so nice! They even let us stay late on Sunday to watch the Viking vs. Packer game and then drove Heather and me back to Arnhem. Erik, the husband, saw my living conditions and must have thought they were horrid because the next day I received an invitation to stay at their apartment over Christmas break with a friend. They are not going to be there at all because they are in the states, but they are leaving me a key and letting me live there free of charge for a week or two! That is where I will spend Dec. 26-Jan. 1.  There are fireworks that happen on New Years just outside their apartment window over the North Sea! How amazing will that be?! Oh am I excited for that! These people are just so generous! I am thankful I met them; they gave me a new boost of energy and enthusiasm for being here.
Thanksgiving just passed last week, which I am sure you know. Happy Thanksgiving! I was really disappointed to be missing a family holiday and to be spending it in a country that doesn't even celebrate it, but it worked out pretty well. I had no plans until the day before Thanksgiving. I ended up being invited to the WI boys' apartment with a few other people. The WI boys are from Whitewater, WI and they are also studying with me. They were able to find a turkey so they cooked that and three chickens up for us. The rest of us brought a dish to add to the feast. With everything there we had green beans, corn, a lot of bread, mashed potatoes, cheesy potatoes (Thanks Mom!), a Dutch dish of mashed potatoes, sausage and some green stuff (delicious, by the way), homemade cookies from WI, apple pie, and even some good wine. It was a feast! We had 5 Americans, 8 Irishman, 2 Finish girls, and one Dutch guy. It was great! We watched Packer football and threw some pig skin around. I got to carve one of the chickens and I did a fine good job on it as well! It was even a complete holiday because one of the boys had an accident with a knife and decided to give himself stitches. It was not pleasant to watch. It turned out to be a good Thanksgiving in the end!
Last weekend my roommate and I went to Apeldoorn which isn't too far from here to see the Paleis Het Loo. It was absolutely beautiful! I loved it there! I had just watched Pride and Prejudice the night before and I definitely felt like I was in the movie when I was wandering around the Paleis and the gardens! I attached pictures from there as well!
Now, tomorrow I am off to Paris, my last big trip while I am here. The rest of the month I will be finishing school work and traveling around Holland more. I am going to Paris with Jen (my Canadian roommate) and we are meeting up with two of her friends from Canada on Friday evening when they get in. Tomorrow night we are going to the Moulin Rouge, Friday the Eiffel Tower, as for the rest of the weekend, nothing is planned. We are just taking it easy and enjoying Paris. I will give you more details when I get back next week!
I am sorry this is so short, but I had so much to fill you in on that I just didn't have the energy to write all the details! I will be sure not to get so far behind again! I will be home in 49 days! I cannot wait!
By the way, this world is a lot smaller than I ever would have thought! I encountered the student who is at stout in my place online last week. He is friends with some of my friends back home. I also met the guy who is from stout and coming to Arnhem next semester randomly because he found my friend Heather on myspace. One of my friends here from Germany studied in WI in high school and was really good friends with one of my good friends back at stout. I am serious! This world is so small!
Also, every one should see the movie "Pay it Forward." It is wonderful!
I miss you!

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