Life in Holland!

Windmills, grazing sheep/cows, wooden shoes, and cheese are all stereotypical things one might think of when Holland is mentioned, but they’re all very real! I have been in The Hague, Netherlands for several weeks now and have loved every minute of the experience thus far. From the moment I arrived, I have been trying to make the most out of the time I have here. All of us from U of L got bicycles within the first week of being here (which is SO Dutch). Being a “horse girl” (and Equine major), it was important for me to find a stable where I could ride regularly. I ended up in the center of the city (a very unlikely place for horses), where there is an old, hidden, brick stable that dates back to the time of Napoleon. Apparently, it was a gift to the city of Den Haag from his full brother. I am having a great time learning a different style of riding. Soon, they will begin taking group rides out on the beach of the North Sea! I couldn’t be more excited.
I have also been attending a church that meets in one of the oldest church buildings in The Hague. It is absolutely gorgeous.
The food is incredible- from fresh produce to Holland cheese to delectable European desserts. I am trying as many “local” dishes as possible, wherever I go. My favorite so far are called “Stroopwaffels.” They are super sweet, thin waffle cakes that are sandwiched together with some sort of a caramel/syrup. They are served hot and fresh on the streets, or pre-packaged at the grocery stores.
One of the decision factors that came into play when choosing somewhere to study was the access to modes of travel, and The Hague has proved to be invaluable in that the train station is literally right down the street from my student residence building. The proximity to trains (both intercity and international) makes travel convenient and easy. Over Spring Break, I went to visit some of my friends studying in Germany and England. I also trained down to Brussels, Belgium and enjoyed amazing Belgian chocolate and waffles!
The Dutch culture is very laid back. If you ask someone for help, they will gladly offer their assistance, although not without being asked. I am slowly but surely picking up on some Dutch. It is a rather difficult language, but the good news is that everyone also speaks English, so there is no communication issues.
I am so happy to be on a study abroad, and it has already proven to be the most exciting and profound experience of my life!
Until next time,IMG_5220