I’m Cara, a student of English literature, Italian and French at Flinders University in Adelaide. This semester I am living the Dutch life while I study at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. I’m using this opportunity to work my way through some of my endless lists of places I want to travel to, and also to work on my photography.
The academic semester has just begun, and already it promises to be long and fairly brutal. However, I took some time out before the semester to race through Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, and I plan to ramble through Europe at the semester’s end.
My topics are certainly enjoyable in that they offer another way to immerse myself in European cultures. In this block (term) I’m doing two topics: Dutch Present-Day Society and An Introduction to France. In mid-November a new block will begin and I will take two new topics, which are Ideas of Europe and the Dutch Golden Age.
The blocks are short, so the courses move rapidly. There is a lot of work involved, especially since I’m taking a Dutch language course on top of a full time study load. I have an interest in languages, so I hope to be able to reach a reasonably good level of Dutch during my five months in this country. I’m living with Dutch students, so I will have plenty of opportunities to practise what I learn in class.
Still, despite all the rush of preparing for my studies and sorting out my stay here (e.g. opening a Dutch bank account, getting a public transport card, registering with the city), I’ve already managed to fit in two day trips. The first was to the Hoge Veluwe national park (see link below), which was a beautiful place to cycle. I went there on what was probably the last sunny summer’s day, so it was fairly busy on the cycling paths. The second day trip was to Breda, where I toured the lovely old city, ate traditional Dutch stamppot and checked out a local music festival. Also the Graphic Design Museum there had some amusing things in its temporary exhibition, such as subjective atlases and a video which showed how to assemble your own rabbit. Enough said.
Back in Utrecht now, I feel like this city has already come to feel like my second home. I really enjoy going to the markets to buy fresh flowers for my room, and zipping around town on my bike. The city centre is beautiful, and I can’t wait to explore so that I know my way around all of it. At the moment I’m still taking the main roads instead of more direct routes because it’s always quicker to get somewhere if you don’t get lost. Otherwise I get lost quite frequently, but I’m used to that.
Now, after my weekend of visiting the markets, cooking fun food and travelling to Breda, it’s time that I addressed this week’s homework. And now that the weather has started to deteriorate, I’ll need to invest in some climate appropriate clothing lickety-split. Ay me, what a hard life this is.
I think I’m going to enjoy every minute of this semester.
You can check out the Hoge Veluwe park website here:
* This article has been reposted.