My name is DeSean Jackson and along with a couple of other UofL students (Eric Tandrian & Matthew Schulz) we are currently studying in the Netherlands at De Haagse Hogeschool (The Hague University).
It has been a little more than two months since I have come to the Netherlands to study abroad. So I apologize for posting so late to the blog.
The first two weeks were the hardest to get used to and very hectic. This happened to be my first time traveling outside of the U.S. so it was pretty overwhelming for me in the beginning. I was very homesick and could not adjust to the 6 hour time difference.
When I arrived at The Hague University things did not run as smooth as I had hoped. By the time I had arrived all the offices were closed so I had to stay in a hotel for the first night. The following morning when I figured out my housing situation, my apartment was 3.5 km (approx. 2.2 miles) away from the school. The cultural shock had begun! It was difficult just being in a city where English wasn’t the main language. Everything is in Dutch so I almost felt disconnected from the world. I couldn’t read the newspaper or even watch TV. Fortunately almost everyone speaks English so that made things more comforting.
I have always stayed very close to campus at UofL and could easily get around with my car. Here in the Netherlands transportation is quite different. Here in the Hague You can travel by a number of ways like train or tram, many people ride bicycles. The first couple of weeks I walked everywhere but that was just an inconvenience. More people here in The Hague ride bikes then drive cars and there are bike routes throughout the city. I did the Dutch thing and bought a bicycle at a second-hand shop. It’s good exercise and environmentally friendly!
FOOD & DINING
I am a very picky eater and have lived off fast food and frozen products since I have been at UofL. Things changed once I got here in the Netherlands. The first time I went to the grocery store and I did not consider that everything would be in Dutch. I did the best I could and bought whatever looked familiar. So far I have tried some common Dutch foods. The worst has to have been raw herring and onions and the best has to be Dutch apple pie. I must admit I still eat McDonalds or Burger King four to five times a week. Some little differences here that I find funny is that at the grocery store you have to either bring your own grocery bags or buy grocery bags and its normal NOT to tip when eating out.
The lectures and teaching are a different style compared to UofL. Each class meets only once a week and the majority of work is outside of the classroom and is almost always a group project or assignment. The hardest class I’m in now is a Survival Dutch class and is just a crash course learning the Dutch language.
Even though The Hague University has just as many students as UofL, the school is located in just one big building, so there isn’t much of a campus type of feel.
My favorite thing to do over here in Europe is to travel. We invested in the Eurorail so we travel by train quite a bit. We have traveled almost every weekend since we have been here. So far we have been to 8 countries (Germany, Belgium, Austria, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Greece, and the Czech Republic). Every country has its own culture and is so interesting and has so much history. Just having the chance to meet so many people and experiencing so many different cultures is hard to put in words.