Den Haag – Day 1

Den Haag Hollan Spoor Train Station

I’ve been in Den Haag for a little over 26 hours and it’s been a very interesting journey so far. I’ve come to love this place even though I don’t understand Dutch at all.

My flight path was from Cincinnati to Philadelphia to London to Amsterdam. Upon arriving Amsterdam I was to purchase a ticket from the train station located directly under the Airport. There are multiple yellow machines that dispense tickets. However, they only accepted Chip + Pin card or Euro coins. As fate would have it, I only had cash so a wonderful person guided me to a booth where I could use cash. I bought my tickets for €9 and headed towards the platform.

At the platform I initially took the wrong train because I was supposed to go to the station called “Den Haag Holland Spoor” (HS) instead of “Den Haag Central”. Luckily I stepped out at the right time and was able to get on the correct train. After about 40 minutes I reached Den Haag Holland Spoor and my directions were to call the pick-up service and then head to the pick up spot near the train station. After dragging my main bag (51 lbs.) and carry on (25 lbs.) for about 1/2 a mile and struggling to use a pay phone for 30 minutes I realized it wasn’t my fault at all. Apparently the new number was sent out to all the students and I somehow either didn’t receive it or missed it. Despite having to walk around with my luggage for an hour, I finally found the building where the wonderful people from InterAccess made things so much easier. Dennis drove me to my apartment along with Romina.

A few things that I’ve noticed so far:

  • People in The Hague love beer, are kind, and very helpful.
  • They also drive on the right side of the road, which isn’t something I was expecting.
  • Almost everyone rides a bike regardless of whether you’re a 5 year old kid or a business woman in her 40s wearing a suit.

At this point I’m all settled in and am slowly starting to find my way around the city. I got a new Dutch sim card and the OV-Chipkaart which is used to pay for trams, trains, and buses in the Netherlands.

I’ve also decided to rent a bike so I can explore the city a bit faster!

Check out the few pictures I’ve uploaded so far here


Back Home Again

It has been just over a week since I returned home from the Netherlands. I did not realize that the adjustment of returning would impact me as much as it has. The weirdest thing about it is that after you have been away for a semester traveling and doing all of these awesome things and you finally return home, it almost feels like it was a dream. I feel like I was leaving for The Hague yesterday. Definitely make the most of your time abroad as you will be home before you know it. When you come back, people will ask you how your trip went and about your time abroad, but it is hard to describe a semester in which you have so many experiences. All that comes out of my mouth is, “It was great!” Others who have gone abroad before told me about this feeling before I left but I did not really understand it at the time. But now, I do. Some other tips for you in The Hague, is that it takes a while for professors to post their grades. They are not required to post grades immediately like they are here. But if you email them and explain your situation, they more often than not will help you get your grade back quickly. Also, the exams are often a majority of the grade for the course. Most of mine were between 60-70% of the total grade. So there is a decent amount of pressure to do well on the exam. I recommend not traveling the last few weeks of the semester and dedicate that time to studying for finals. It is hard to believe that the semester of my dreams is finally over. I keep thinking about the work that everyone put in to make it possible, the friends I made, the memories in each city, and the different cultures. It was definitely the best 5 months of my life. I highly recommend studying abroad. Thanks for reading my posts throughout the semester! Feel free to contact me if you would like to know more about my experience abroad.

Chiraag Bhimani

A Few Tips for You

It is hard to believe that within 6 weeks I will be back in Louisville. It feels like just yesterday I was walking into my room at The Hague for the first time. I wanted to share some advice about some of the things that can have an impact on your study abroad experience.

Make a list of the countries/cities that you want to go to: This was one of the first things AJ and I did when we got to The Hague. We have been able to visit 10 countries on our list. The key is to travel early and often. That way, you are not traveling around the end of the semester when final exams and big assignments are due. Save the local areas for the end. Make use of any school holidays you may have. Fortunately, we did not have any tests during the first exam period so we had an extended fall break of about 10 days.

Stay on top of school work: It is important to get work done, even if it means giving up a night out during the week. You do not want to carry your books and notes around on a weekend trip trying to get work done. It is a hassle. Balancing school with traveling is not the easiest thing, but it is important that you do so.

Research the places you are going: By this I mean take an hour or so to look up some info on the places before you get there. Ask friends and family for recommendations on things to do. I have been able to use info from previous posts on this blog by others. You might be able to find a nice local restaurant, bar, or attraction that is not known to tourists. Also, look into events going on in the cities during the time you will be there. You never know if your favorite artist or author may be in town while you are there.

Pack light: Whenever you travel, pack light. Take only what you absolutely need for a few days and leave the rest. Make sure all your liquids are travel sized. I recommend walking whenever you can, you’ll see more of the city that way and you do not want to lug around a heavy backpack.

Be creative in your travel plans: Look into trains, buses, and planes. Buses are often dirt cheap, but the downside is a long travel time. Trains and planes are pretty affordable given that you plan well in advance. Look into other airports around you. Often, the low cost airlines fly out of secondary airports. You can travel to a city one way by train and then return by plane or by some other combination.

That is all I have for now. I will try to add more as I think of them. If you have any questions or comments, let me know and I will get back to you. Thanks for reading!

Chiraag Bhimani

The Hostel Life

I have been living in The Hague for nearly two months now. It is a great location considering how close it is to other major European countries. This makes it very easy to travel by plane, train, or even bus. So far, I have traveled to several different cities and countries. Amsterdam’s airport is close by and has flights to almost every city you could think of. Many of these flights are affordable for a college student looking to do some traveling.

Up until my trip abroad, I have never stayed in a hostel. When the word hostel came to mind, I imagined a giant room with an endless row of metal bunk beds. The hostels we have stayed at have been nothing short of great. Some are right in the middle of the city, some are on the outskirts. You can use sites like and Hostelworld to find a hostel. Usually, it costs around 15 to 30 Euros depending on the day and location. Often times, the price includes a free breakfast. A good rule of thumb to follow is to pick a hostel that has at least an 80% rating on the website.

Hostels are an interesting place to meet other travelers. It is almost like getting a random roommate every time you stay in one. In most cases, the rooms are mixed which means you can have roommates of the opposite gender. More often than not, many hostels also have different room types to choose from. Some offer a big room like ten or more beds, some offer smaller rooms for two to four people. The smaller rooms usually cost a bit more. Some of the smaller rooms have a private bathroom in them while the bigger ones have to use a community bathroom. Hostels are basically a cross between hotels and dorms.

The people working at the front desk are usually pretty good resources when it comes to finding out the local spots to hang out or get something to eat. Two things I would invest in when staying in hostels are a lock and a small towel. Every hostel has a locker in the room for you to use. But they do not give you a lock to use. I recommend bringing your own lock, something smaller than a combination lock as those are usually too big. Also, you do not want to carry around a normal sized towel when you are traveling. You want to travel light and a big, bulky towel will not help. Something like a swimmer’s towel or a small washcloth works. It is light and gets you dry enough.

I hope this gives you a better idea of what to expect when staying at a hostel. If you have any questions or comments, let me know and I will get back to you. Thanks for reading!

Chiraag Bhimani

The Hague, Netherlands!

Hello from The Hague, Netherlands! It has been nearly three weeks since I left Louisville and it has all been a blur. Before I came, I read the other blog entries on The Hague to get an idea of what to expect. I am glad that I did as it has been a huge help. I will tailor my blog posts so that it will give you an idea of what to expect about life in The Hague and abroad through my experiences. It does not take much time to get settled down in The Hague. It is an extremely diverse and international city. I definitely did not expect it to be that way. Almost everyone speaks English and you will see that many of the people are students or young professionals. I am here with another UofL student, AJ Bucci, and we were lucky enough to find an apartment in the city center. The city center is where all of the restaurants, bars/clubs, and stores are located. We bought bikes, which is the primary form of transportation in and around the city. AJ talks about it in his blog post, but biking is a huge part of Dutch life. They have special roads and traffic lights dedicated to bikes only. They even have these rails on stairs for you to use in case you have a bike with you. For us, walking to school or the train station takes about 20 minutes. But with the bike, it is less than half that time. I am not going to lie to you, before I came to the Netherlands; I was expecting to conquer Europe one country at a time. It is definitely easier said than done. It can be tough to plan trips around school but the key is to travel as much as you can as early as possible, before you get deep into classes. A good rule to follow is every other week for travelling out of the country. And you have to plan early to get good deals on planes and trains. Also, don’t be afraid to be the first one to make travel plans. Other people will follow once they see someone else do it. So far, the weather has been pretty good. Good enough to where we were able to make it to the beach one day. That was pretty nice. But everyone is telling us to enjoy it while we can before it gets worse. The classes have been very interesting so far. Group work and presentations are a common theme among all classes. You will get to meet people from all over the world here. In a single group, you could have someone from Russia, Thailand, Mexico, and Slovakia. It has been a great experience so far. I’ll be back to update you on more from The Hague, in the meantime if you have any questions you can send me an email or leave a comment.

Chiraag Bhimani