About Paige

University of Louisville, College of Business Hometown: Louisville Major: Finance Age: 21 National Student Exchange: Univ. of South Florida, Tampa, FL. Spring 07. Study Abroad: The Hague University, The Netherlands. Fall 07.

Den Haag (pronunciation: den hahkh)

Life is good. I found it by bike the other day, a place called Zuiderpark. It’s beautiful, complete with bike paths, running paths, soccer fields, a botanical garden, and a petting zoo. Although Holland is notorious for rain, yesterday was a perfect day. On my way back from the park I got to use the little Dutch that I can speak to ask directions. Thankfully I was enjoying my bike ride, anticipating the challenge of finding my way around this new city. Den Haag is like a mini-Amsterdam, but with an even chiller atmosphere (if you can believe it), friendly neighbors in replace of stumbling tourists, and a great place to call home for the next three and a half months.

I have discovered downtown Den Haag, what is known as the Centrum. I still have much to see in this city. The beach is beautiful as well, and everyone here is exceptionally nice. My apartment is located about 25-30 minutes walking from the school. I suppose you could say we live in a residential area of sorts. Most students are living in a place called Astraat or in the Centrum. At first, I was not sure about being so far away, but after a week or so, I realized this is the perfect place to be. In the bottom of my building, my friend Claus from Egypt runs a local store and always gives me great deals on pineapple…yummy. Three doors down is a bicycle shop, a man from Holland named Peter sold me my bike as well as some fresh fish from the sea this past weekend. I got the most beautiful fresh salmon for about a fourth of the price just by having a desire to get to know the people around me…to say the least, I felt pretty proud about it! I go running most days, enjoying the fact that down the block to either direction are parks, soccer fields, and wildlife.

School is an entirely new experience. I have never seen anything quite like The Hague University. The first week was very uncommon. They sell beer here on tap right outside the front door. On Wednesday of my first week, I watched a break-dance show on a stage set up in the main hall of the school. Each day I ride to school I am even more curious about what I will see next. Classes are very interesting as well. In my EBC course we (4 of us) are creating our own business, complete with a business plan, registration with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, marketing plans, projected financial statements, and a real sense of what entrepreneurs must go through. In my Global Development Policy class I am learning more about African countries living in immense poverty, the role (or lack there of) of organizations such as the WTO, WHO, the World Bank, and learning the complex and political nature of the European Union. It is pretty interesting, as the only American in the classroom, to see how people my age feel about the U.S., as well as China and the EU.

I most definitely miss my family. I miss UofL, my friends, USF and my friends in Tampa, the city of Louisville, and my mentors on campus. I know I am missed back home as well, but I will return soon enough as a more polished, educated, and mature me. I can’t put into words how intense it is to be so far away from everything I know, yet so close to everything I need. I’m learning even more about who I am, learning how easy it is to take things one day at a time, and showing myself that negative circumstances are only that way out of reaction, using the positive in life to look past cracks in the road.

I don’t have any pictures yet of my new city (trying not to feel like a tourist here), but I will sooner or later. What I do know is that Europe is unlike anything I could have imagined. I think it is important to come here not with expectations, but with possibilities. Of course things have rough at times, but this is hands down the greatest journey I have ever taken.

As a side note, I am listening right now to the melodious tones of Alexi Murdoch. Those who know me well will understand this to be an important yet equally random fact. Music connects our lives.

Until next time,

August 12th

After some of the wildest nights of my life at a place called the Indian Lounge in Barcelona where Bav worked as a DJ, Aaron and I spent the night crashing among fellow backpackers in an airport about an hour or so outside the city. During the train ride to the airport, both of us talked about childhood memories, future goals, and how lucky we are to have this opportunity. We made it to Rome around lunch time today, to find an ancient city with its jaw-dropping structures and history. People are friendly here and we spent most of the day wondering throughout the city taking dozens and dozens of photos. I’ve never seen anything like this city before. They have columns sitting in ruins that have more years of history than the entire establishment of the United States. Later on in the evening, Aaron and I found ourselves in a park scattered with ruins, dimly lit by Rome in the distance, watching shooting stars overhead. The last few days have been the Italian nights of shooting stars, as we were told by our host Riccardo, a Rome native who works as a sound technician for all types of gigs including popular concerts and even speeches by the Pope. We met his friend Diego and the two of them shared more history about the city than we ever could have learned from sightseeing (we should work on our Italian though…he he). Later we went out for coffee, which in Italy is incredible; it is unreal how amazing it is. After that, Riccardo graciously drove us throughout the city, seeing the Coliseum, Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peters in English), and other sights of the city by the light of the moon without a tourist in sight (other than Aaron and I of course, fighting over who could take the best night-mode pic). Tomorrow we pick up Kali from the Termini train station and prepare for another day of endless photos.

By now we have seen the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna), Santa Maria (an incredible cathedral tucked into the Plazza della Repubblica), several archeological ruins, and the Patheon. As I review the photos on my digital camera I am continually astonished by these incredible sights, built by hand thousands of years ago, standing today as monuments of Rome’s past, present, and future.

August 9th

After waking up on the train, Aaron and I ventured out into the city of Barcelona. Perhaps one of the coolest cities I’ve ever seen, Barcelona is a jumble of cultural identities with an authentic Catalonian beach-town vibe. We spent the majority of the afternoon walking around Vila Olympica, where the Olympics were held in ’92 as well as the Mediterranean coastline and the beach (apparently nude…we felt a bit overdressed). Later that evening we went out for drinks with our hosts Bav (from UK) and Michal (from Poland) and fellow couchsurfers from Estonia. The nightlife here is loads of fun and yet again (thanks to couchsurfing) we have already made friends in a city far from home.

August 7th


With Max’s advice we spent the day yesterday roaming through the streets of Toledo. Only the pictures can describe how beautiful this place was. Although I got way more sun than I had bargained for, the weather was breezy and Aaron and I enjoyed a nice picnic lunch we bought at the local grocery store in the plaza by the Cathedral. Later that afternoon, we made our way back to Pinto where we hung our laundry to dry and went with Max and his daughter to a great new park in the city. As we ate our tapas dinner at a restaurant overlooking the pond as people paddled small boats past, I realized that memories like these are what make a journey. However nervous we may have been initially, Aaron and I both know now that couchsurfing was the perfect way to meet local people and experience travel in a completely non-commercial, genuine way. After dinner we climbed high-ropes in the park, 20 or 30 feet up, looking at the lights of Madrid in the distance.

Today we hung out in Pinto with Sammy (Max’s daughter), went to the supermarket to stock up for the next bit of our journey, and watched a bilingual Harry Potter! We made friends with some locals at an internet cafe and made our way to Chamartin to catch the night train to Barcelona. I find myself now in a couchette (sleeping bed on night trains) writing peacefully the brief details of our travels.

August 6th

Day two in Madrid was delightful. We enjoyed a day of rain which cooled down the city, normally 110 degrees in the sun this time of the year. We started our day at the Museo del Prado which had three stories of beautiful artwork and sculptures. I particularly like the main exhibit featuring the artwork of a famous landscape artist (Patinir). Aaron and I had lunch in the oldest bar in Madrid based on the advice of Max. After deciphering the menu, I ended up with the Tortilla Espanola, a local potato omlette. We also visited the Plaza Mayor (very impressive), Catedral de la Almudena, Palacio Real (the palace of Madrid), Parque del Campo del Moro and Templo de Debod (two of the many city parks; great for photos and local entertainment). Our stay in Pinto is great. We managed to find a supermarket as well as get lost for about 20 minutes. Aaron and I rely heavily on asking questions but are finding that the phrase book, although great for asking the question, still leave us confused as to the Spanish response. Altogether, we are managing just fine; found a local bakery this morning and as I eat my breakfast and write this, we are on our way to Toledo, a city to the south of Madrid. P.S. Last night we found ourselves reminiscing about the Jungle Book, as Max had the soundtrack to the film in German and knew the entire story by heart. Talk about memories.


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August 5th

We made it to Madrid yesterday. The heat is very intense here, but the beer is cold and cheap. Aaron and I are modestly working on our Spanish (he is doing better than I am). We enjoyed our afternoon walking throughout Opera, Sol, Plaza del Prado, and Atocha’s incredible train station complete with turtles. We spent an hour or so in a beautiful botanical garden taking dozens of pictures. We spent our evening in Pinto with our host Max, his daughter Sammy, friends Vanessa and Thomas. He had a barbeque in our honor. We enjoyed great conversation as each of them knew English as well as German and Spanish (that pretty much makes Aaron and I slackers!). Till next time.


Atocha Train Station (Inside)

Atocha Train Station



Aaron, Max, Sammy, and I

August 4th

Amsterdam is amazing. The city is absolutely breath-taking, clean, and quiet. With a population of roughly 700,000, relatively few cars scatter the streets bustling with bikes as far as the eye can see. While in Amsterdam for the day, we saw Dam Square, Reimbradtplein, the Red Light District, the Opera House, the canals of course, and Amsterdam Central Station. Aaron and I are embarking on a three and a half week journey across Western Europe. While we are traveling, we are using a site called couchsurfing.com to manage our stay in each city. Through this website, you meet people online and request to stay on their couches. Our host Enrico was an incredible first experience to the world of couchsurfing. We went around the whole city, laughed and shared stories of our lives, family, and friends. He helped us finalize some details for our journey in Italy and he even made us sandwiches for the road! All is well in Amsterdam.

Aaron and Enrico

August 3rd

Everything is new. Trains are a foreign language. Food is an incredible experience of curious yet deliciously edible combinations. Aaron and I arrived in Amsterdam, made our way to campus (Den Haag) and back, and ordered some sort of hamburger with egg, pineapple, ketchup, mayo, and cucumber, surprisingly tasty. While enjoying the sites of Amsterdam we realized how tired we were and spent a couple of hours napping in the park. I awoke to the laughter of Dutch children as the crawled behind Aaron to retrieve the ball they were playing with…of course he was completely incoherent. We are now enjoying the Pride Festival in Rembrandtplein Park, the weather, and our new home in Holland.