Anyway, I talked about getting here, but I didn't really talk about what it's like here. The website is here if you want to look (there are pictures and descriptions in English). I live in Building K, a.k.a. Reinier, and I have one of the few shared rooms on the whole campus (I requested that, because it drops E400 off the E3400 price). I share a room with Dia from Hungary, who is turning 20 next week; we hit it off right away. The room is enormous; we could probably fit two other beds in there with no problem. One wall has two big windows, so there's a lot of natural light; the curtains are orange, my bedspread is red and blue and Dia's is green. There are wooden bookshelves and armoires plus big desks and swivel chairs. The overhead light is a round white Japanese-lantern-looking-thing, and there's also a sink in the room (which is nice; the toilets and showers are at either end of the hall) with its own mirror and light. Basically, there's a lot of light, which I love, since my La Mancha apartment and bedroom are/were so dark.
(Speaking of which, while I'm thinking of it - any of you Gainesvillians know of an apartment I could rent for spring for under $500/month? La Mancha is raising their rates and frankly, their dingy, tiny apartments simply aren't worth that much.)
The campus is small, with a dining hall, a bar, basketball, tennis, and soccer courts, four academic buildings (all named after philosophers and scientists), a center quad, and a couple of dorms (students also live on the upper floors of the academic buildings). It's situated pretty close to the center of town (for those who know, it's on Prins Hendriklaan, just east of the Wilhelminapark) and everything is very pretty.
This week is the Introductieweek, so we're divided into groups with 'parents' (second- and third-year UCU students) doing activities with us and answering questions. Today we went on a sort of treasure hurt through Utrecht, which was okay, but kind of annoying since we didn't have bikes and had to walk the whole way. Plus, I already know where everything is, so a lot of this stuff seems unnecessary. But I won two free drinks by answering both of the riddles way before everyone else, haha. They were really easy... see if you can get them:
1.) You walk out of a bar and you can clearly see your black sports car 100 yards away, even with no moonlight and no streetlights. How is this possible?
2.) A man is found shot at his desk with a gun in his hand and a tape recorder next to him. When the police pressed Play, they heard 'I can't go on; I have nothing to live for,' and then a gunshot. How did they know immediately that the man had been murdered?
E-mail me if you want the answers. :)
Anyway, I'm still glad we have these groups, because almost everybody in my group is Dutch, so I'm making new Dutch-speaking friends pretty effortlessly. I also met an American girl this morning at breakfast, Miranda from California, and she was nice too. Usually we speak English if there are any non-Dutch speakers around, but if there aren't, we speak Dutch. I'm getting the usual comments about "Usually, people who learn a language at 18 can't get rid of their accent, but you don't have one at all!" and it feels great. Last night there was a party in the on-campus bar (which was a lot of fun) and I was talking with a couple Dutch girls from my group when another Dutch girl named Victoria came and joined in. She didn't know me, so during a break in the conversation she asked my name and where I was from. When I said, "Amerika," she got a shocked look on her face and reflexively said, "Oh - sorry!" (It made me laugh - sorry for what? For having the wrong mental impression, I guess.)
But it's weird - I can remember that just a few years ago, I hated the idea of going out to clubs and bars. I went a couple of times, with Linde and Tara, but I remember very clearly that when Marrit tried to take me and Scott out in August 2003, I was such a wallflower - drinking only water, not really dancing at all, feeling really uncomfortable the whole time. I wonder why that was? I don't know if I was uncomfortable just because it was a new situation or because it wasn't a situation that I believed I was supposed to enjoy - you know, the 'drinking is bad' stigma, etc. I was only 19 then. (My sister is 18 and sort of in that stage right now too... we'll see where she goes with it.) But now that I'm 21 I really enjoy going out... not every night, but it's fun a couple of times a month. I spent my 21st birthday at Market Street (a pub/club in Gainesville), and Renate and I went to Fat Tuesdays one night in the spring, and both of those times were great. As was last night. I wonder why it took me so long to 'grow up' like that? I guess I'm thinking about this because one of the girls I'm making good friends with, Doortje (from Den Haag), was there last night and she reminds me a lot of the 'old' me - staying pretty quiet, not dancing, not drinking, etc. I think she's only 18, though; I'm one of the oldest ones here. Since UCU is traditionally a full bachelor's degree program, which takes 3 years here, almost everyone is between 18 and 20. Oh, well.
Anyway, I guess the only thing left to talk about so far is the food: it's good. We had a sort of Mediterranean barbecue last night, with chicken shish kabobs and a mixture of yellow rice, carrots, peas, and tiny sausages. It was really good, especially when I realized that they had pindasaus and kruidenboter! I really missed those two things. (Pindasaus = peanut sauce - really good on French fries and meats - and kruidenboter = butter with herbs.)
Anyway, my feet are sore from walking around the city all day, and I bet Dia's back in the room now, so I'm going to sign off. Send me lots of e-mail, everyone!!! :)