Saturday, 21 June 2014

ROTARY EXCHANGE July 2nd-July 5th.

Tuesday July 2nd 2013
It was Hanneke's birthday! My host family on birthdays (Since I was there for two, hanneke's and mine!) put up these triangular pieces of fabric on a string and hung them up all over the living room and kitchen. Hanneke was having a party that night for her birthday where a lot of her friends and some family would be coming over. So being dutch we had to go the Cheese store, which i have to say had veeeery good cheese! My favourite was the Limburg cheese (the cheese from the province I was living in!) The store, " 'T Keesheaukske" was probably the same size as a typical Aldo Shoes store. We then went home and I practiced my speech more and then we had dinner and off we went to Oor. The guests would be coming while we were at the Rotary Meeting. Upon getting to the hotel the meeting was at, which was the start at 7, we were 10 minutes early and yet were the only people there, from the other inbound and out bound students. We waited for about 20 minutes and then Winnie from the Netherlands and Lea from Vancouver island showed up! It was weird seeing her because she had been at my rotary meetin as well, for Vancouver island! I felt really bad for her though she had just flown in that day and then had to come there and present. After more waiting the last couple came and I don't remember the Dutch girls name but her partner was Daniela from Mexico. Then after even more waiting we finally got to go in to see all of the Rotarians. I think it was about 7:45 when we were told it would start at 7. I started getting paranoid that me and lea would have the same presentation on Canada but we didn't. She went first and talked about her and her school and her town and her rotary club and basically nothing I talked about. Then Daniela went (and you could tell that the Rotarians were beginning to lose focus a bit) and she talked about her friends and her school and her town and her self and her family.. And I starting thinking "oh no... I'm gonna go up there and bore everyone to death." Neither of them had speeches or written down anything! And then.. Daniela gave them all a huge thing of Mexican tequila. How could I top that? All I could think about was katniss in the first hunger games...but I went up, and presented and speed talked my way very quickly through the whole thing. Then we went home had Hanneke's birthday party and I met Aline and Corrina Again and this time Vincent Aline's boyfriend. I had my first European beer that night :)
Wednesday July 3rd 2013
 On the Wednesday me and Nienke and Maartje went to the Efteling. Now none of you probably know what this is and all I can describe it as is a ... Per-Disney. Like the real original fairy tales in their authentic forms before they were disneyified, plus more that never went through Disney. It is kind of like an amusement park.... But not at the same time. Every ride has a story. There was Monsieur cannibale which was like the spinning tea cups but instead they were pots that Monsieur cannibale was going to cook you in. And droomflucht (dream flight) which is kind of like a tour through a fairytale land....and fata morgana which was very like the pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney land. I really liked that one, there were of course roller coasters and what not(my favorite being the Flying Dutchman) but my favorite part was the fairy tale forest. It's was soooo cool. And I would like to thank my mum for always reading me so many fairy tales and telling me so many stories when I was younger, if you hadn't I probably wouldn't have none half of them! Some that I did know were Snow White, sleeping beauty, mother holle, the frog prince, hansel and gretel (that was a really cool one!),  the wolf and the seven kids,  Tom Thumb, rumpelstiltskin, rapunzel, Cinderella, the little mermaid, little red riding hood.. But there were a lot more that I had no idea about. It was kind of rainy that day so not super hot..... Which I liked :) for dinner I tried a kroket-which was the first thing I didn't like food wise since I got here! Then I tried Nienke for her frikandel-which was the second thing I didn't like. So I bought some food in the train station.. That night on the two hour train ride I lost my retainers... and I had to get a new pair when I got home :/ though I had a great day that day, I dont really think I realised how much of a great day I really had until coming home and remembering it so clearing and for sure wanting to go back!!
July Thursday 4th 2013
We stayed home.... And honestly I can't remember what I did...probably watched movies :P or read haha
July Friday 5th  2013
Me and Nienke took the train into s'hertogenbosch (most people just call is den bos) one of the first things we did when we got there was to go on a canal tour. It was all in Dutch but having my own personal translator comes in handy :) it was really cool learning about the history and stuff seeing everything that was so old. At this one part where we were in like a tunnel or something it branched off into another part that apparently when for like 800m or something and it was called either.. A) hell's tunnel b) tunnel of hell or c) the devils tunnel... I don't remember but it was terrifying looking. After that we had lunch and walked around the city I didn't think the city was super outstanding, it was pretty don't get me wrong but it's not one of the best the country has to offer... However it does have an absolutely beautiful cathedral, st. Jan's. it was built in the gothic style and was on my list of things to see when coming here. It was massive and for I think apart from the Dom in köln, Germany the biggest church I've ever been in. I loved it. It was one of those moments of walking in and not knowing what to look at. I'm pretty sure I just took pictures of everything my eyes laid on :) the outside was amazing but the inside kept up to par that's for sure.... It just made me think how long it must have taken to build this one church. My country of residence is under 200 years old and this one single church had a building process of 300... It was a weird feeling being in a building that you know is older than your own country! I think pretty soon after that we took the train home. It was such a beautiful building. Theres one thing that Europe definitely taught me, and that was how to appreciate beautiful architecture, my favourite for sure being as this one was, gothic. 

ROTARY More on Friday 28-Monday 1st

So I began to write my last blogs for my trip right before leaving Roermond and coming back to canada but somehow deleted the first half of of my blog.. and then when getting home we were so busy and then when Nienke went home, school started and now its a year later to then so I figure I should probably finish, better late then never.

June Friday 28th 2013 
So as I said, (I am going to be switching all this into past tense rather than present!) we finally got to go into the shops, we went it felt like everywhere in Roermond! Down all of the Alleys, into so many shops and I got quite a few things, as did Maartje. We also went to the Roermond Designer Outlet, which was pretty cool, though as to be expected they were all "designer clothes" so needless to say I didnt buy anything (though! I did go in my first Burberry ever, which with my Emma Watson obsession I had loved this line for a long time so it was rather exciting like pictures of me under the sign grinning like an idiot exciting) Something that we did buy, which was another first to check on the list was dutch fries.. aka the beginning of a very beautiful friendship. I had never had fries with mayo before but oh Holland <3 you made me fall in love! Good ol' Piet Friet :) this (AND STROOPWAFELS.... and paprika pringles ... and many other foods!) became my go to food. After eating the most wonderful and beloved euro fries we walked around that area of roermond a little more, past the cinema and an old fortress wall (you find history EVERYWHERE) Taking our time we meandered back to where we had parked our bikes and we (And I very warily, as I still was not confident on the bikes! Or on the bike lanes, surrounded by everyone who were all pro bikers since about the age of 4!!) rode our way home. Naturally I took about a hundred photos through out the day. Now just to flash back to the present really quick one of the things that I by far miss the most about this experience was my host family, who really are my second family now, and one thing that most definitely goes along with that is, my host mothers cooking!!! She was (is!) a wonderful cook, i can remember watching her put so much effort and detail into the things that we were about to eat, and every single thing tasted and smelled amazing! There are a couple of meals that stand out to me in particular; Pork chops wrapped in bacon with a boccini, tomato salad (aka right up my alley), chicken breast with fresh delicious mushrooms and mushroom sauce, and white Limburg asparagus and cheese sauce, and (while Nienke was at Nicolaas's house because she doesnt like rice) rice with again the freshest tastiest mushrooms... ahh i could go on and on about food!! But I'm getting off track

June Saturday 29th 2013
That morning I started another long and beautiful friendship that is between me and trains! I absolutely adore them, and Im not really sure why I just love putting in my head phones, sitting but the window and getting lost in  my thoughts and the world flying by outside. So this very first train of many was heading to Maastricht, a very very beautiful and rather unique city that left a very good impression on me. When we got off the train it was raining abit and I have to say I love europe in the rain and sun... I really am trying to find something that I didnt like about it.. but its hard.. rose coloured glasses?? maybe ...but I really think not. To get to real city Maastricht you have to walk across this beautiful bridge that runs over the Maas river then you get to the older part of town (though really its all old...wonderfully wonderfully old). Nienke and I again walked around the city and naturally did a fair amount of shopping. One especially cool store we came upon was a Miffy store! I dont know if a lot of people watched that show about Miffy the white rabbit cartoon when they were young but I sure did! Well it turns out shes dutch and her real name is not miffy but Nijntje.. yes that's hard to say.. We walked a round some more had lunch and went to this really pretty park right  in the middle of the city, and it finally was sunny!! shortly after we went back to the train (ahh trains <3 ) and went back home.

June Sunday 30th 2013
This day we went on a car trip, not far to this other town in Limburg (my province in the south) called Thorn. This town was really cool because almost all of the walls of the buildings in it wear painted white! we went to some cool art galleries ( all very expensive as art seems to be world wide!) and went to a little place for lunch. I was not super impressed with the food from that restaurant, hanneke's cooking was better :)

July Monday 1st 2013
CANADA DAY!!!! Felt really weird not being in Victoria at the parliament buildings but it was pretty cool to be where I was, representing my country. This typical monday of course was set aside for most dreaded work in this case doing my presentation for Rotary. Which I had not known that I had had to do before arriving. It appears only certain rotary clubs do it, the other girls who had presented had known and had theirs all prepared, but as for me I had the cram session on the monday. As it turned out my speech (which i was told my Nienke had to be on me and canada) was pretty decent! Different from the other girls but thats okay. That night though we did actually go out anyways! Not for dinner or anything. We drove to this town in Limburg again called Asselt, it was very cute and had a gorgeous little Chapel that Maartje, nienke and I got pictures in front of. We then went and got tea (my host father naturally got a cappuccino as always :) The place that we got tea had a very beautiful view. It was by water and something that made this night very special for me, was that I got to see my first European sunset that night. At my house you can see the sunset very frequently, but at my house in the Netherlands because everything is so flat everything always got in the way of the sun from the view of the house at least, and so far I had never been anywhere apart from the house at that time. It was beautiful and just one more thing that I get to metaphorically check off the list, my first European sunset, but not my last.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

ROTARY monday 24th-friday 28

So my second day in europewas monday the 24th, on that day i woke up still feeling sick, didnt eat anything and just chilled at the house, and then Nienkes boyfriend Nicolaas then in the afternoon we had to go into roermond centrum ..and i had to go by bike.. which I found out i dont like to do! we went to a Kruidvart (took me so lng to be able to say that and have people actually know what im saying!) i got some stuff like shampoo and hair brush only to find out that my visa didnt work.. you can imagine my horror that the first time using my visa in europe it didnt work luckily niekne had some cash and paid for me, when we got back to the house Hanneke told me that vis a normally doesnt work in most drug stores and grocery stores. By that night i was beginning to notice so real differences in a lot of little things... of course now i can think of barely any of themm.. but then again im a lot more used to it now too. Some that i can think of are... that in between the doors here i dont know if we just dont have it in canada but.. here i am constantly tripping on the door frames or missing a drop from the floor to somewhere else, the tea like i said in my last blog, dutch people eat a lot more sweet food, example, at break fast time they have so much bread adn then on their bread they have nutella or jam or something and then chocolate flakes or choclate sprinkles and if they have cereal and to my family it would be considered a sweet cereal, well they sprinkle Sugar on that. After dinner on the monday i went with Nienke to her dance class, Nicolaas came to so I wouldnt be alone, because I wasnt dancing. I got to meet her friend Vadime and we got on well :) watching her class was really cool it made me miss my own and really made me want to join in haha but of course all the descriptions for what they were doing was in dutch and so was the counting. On tuesday we had a plan to go to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam to see art work by Van Gogh and Andy Warhol and Rembrandt, but the morning i threw up again, figuring out that I had gotten the flu (perfect timing right?) so we didnt go, and i was really dissapointed. It kind of ironic really a couple of days before leaving I had gotten the horrible thought of öh how much would it suck if i got sick while i was there?" and then look what happened, i think theres a saying "speak of the devil and the devil shall appear".  So that tuesday me nienke got to know each other a lot more, as well as watching the twilight movies *which also made me a little homesick, its so flat here no mountains any where and the tress are small and they seem kinda... Ive been trying to think of a word since i got here and all i can come up with in placed :P candas more wild i guess ahha* I ddint eat anything on the tuesday
                    On the wednesday I was sick again (not a good start to my trip) didnt eat anything as far as i remember but that night i went to Maartje's musicalk at her school, she was in her last year of elementary school and is 11, and every school for that year has a musical of the "graduating"students. Maartje's musical was called "Paniek in de Snoep Fabriek" which means Panic in the candy factory... So i watched a musical made of up eleven year olds in dutch about a candy factory... needless to say it consissted of a lot of smiling and nodding and understanding nothing.
                    On the thursday I think i finally eat something but was still feeling rather gross, in the afternoon Vadime came over and so did nicolaas and then in the a little later Vadime left and Nienke went to nicolaas's house and me and maartje watched a movie. After the movie hanneke asked if i wanted to go with her and Maartje into Roermond and i was feeling a bit better and so decided just to make up my mind that i wasnt sick and that I wouldnt let it ruin my trip and went with them. I got to see some more shops and just kinda feel the amotsphere and it is a different kind of feeling than it is at home.
                    On Friday in the morning i went with Nienke to her school to get her report card and it was like a 20 minute bike ride in the rain and my newly recovering body felt like it was an hour and i think i might have nearly died haha. I met some of her friends at the school including a girl called Imke, who also plays volleyball (though by her height id different rather play with her than against.) After we got back home (around lunch) we went to go pick up Maartje from her school as it was the "graduating"class's last day all of the girls were crying and crying (I asked nienke why, and she told me its because a lot of them wont be going to the same highshool as eachother) maartje was also crying. When we got home we tried to cheer her up and had lunch and then took her shopping for summer clothes. When we got into roermond this time we actually really got to go into the shops! and thus started my shopping in the ntherlands! First week?? sick and homesick anbd jetlagged, and at the same time starting to fall inlove with the Netherlands and learning more of the language.

ROTARY Catching up-first day

Okay so I had said that I would write when I got to Europe and then when I getting here I really did try and remember to write but the keyboard was in Dutch, the site was in Dutch and I also couldn't remember my username to log into this thing in the first place.... Also factoring in that I am lazy. So I might as well just do it now! For those of you who did not hear from when I first got here I got horribly sick on the plane. I threw up and the air hostess thought I was going to faint and had to put an "air compresser" on me... Though really I'm pretty sure it was just wet paper towel... Needless to say that when arriving in the schiphol airport where everything was written in this language that I had no idea what it said and I was sick and tired (didn't get any sleep on the plane thanks to the German woman who was sitting beside me(I was on the aisle seat)who decided she would make it impossible for me to be able to get comfortable, and I swear she had to get up to go pee like every five seconds!) it was such a relief to see a familiar face! Well I guess familiar considering I had never actually met her in person before! Herman my host father and Nienke and I all then proceeded to finding the parking but not being able to find out car. But on our little rampage around the parking lot it gave me a good long while to realize how amazing the cars are in Europe! Now I have pretty much zero interest in cars, my boyfriend Alex can tell you that, but I definitely noticed that every car was a fancy looking brand and all of them are shiny and new looking and clean and I'm pretty sure since then on my constant remarking of the niceness of the cars, my host family must think that the average cars in Canada absolutely disgusting and scratched. It was a two and half hour drive from Amsterdam (in northern holland) to my where I've been living in Roermond (which is in the very far south of holland). My first impression of holland?? Rain. And I'm afraid exhaustion! It took almost all of my effort to stay awake and talk to Nienke during the car ride. When arriving to the house my host mum Hanneke and my host sister Maartje came outside to say hello and I gave them all a hug and then we had tea. They were all very shocked to see that I have my tea with milk and sugar... I had never found that weird but here everyone has their tea just straight and sometimes with sugar, but never milk. After that they showed me my room and told me that they would leave me be and come and wake me up in the evening for we were going into Roermond for Italian food. Once they left I'm sorry to say that I just started to cry and fell asleep. When I woke up it was time to go, I changed and left and w happy to see that it had stopped raining, as we were walking through town (which is like an 8 minute drive by car and 15 minute bike ride) I started taking picture of everything, the munsterkerk, the cobblestone roads, the terraces, the shops pretty much everything I laid my eyes on. When we got the the Italian food restaurant I could tell that normally the smell would have made me drool, but unfortunately my nausea from earlier was still in affect and the thought of food simply repulsed me. So my first meal in Europe, Italy food none the less, was a miss. During dinner I found my self having to think so much more than normal. When your with other people who natively speak your language you don't really think about what your saying as much you just know that they will understand you (yes I know I'm one to talk right?? Never makin and sense and speaking fast) but that dinner I was having to think about the simplest way to say thing and to say things slowly and that they were so many things I had to explain, when I got onto the topic of my family and friends back home I'm afraid I started to tear up and excused myself to the bathroom, oh that reminds me! The stairs here! Oh wow! Those of you who always say my bedroom stairs are steep? HAH! Come to Europe and try these stairs! After dinner we walked back to the car, I took more pictures of the European cars and then we went home, when we went home I expected to just go to bed but sleep couldn't come to me, I started to cry again and felt very homesick, for my bed, and my family and my boyfriend, and of course the typical self pity one gets when one is sick. Eventually I fell sleep, and thus concluded my first day!

Monday, 10 June 2013

ROTARY Starting to get excited!!

So hi :) My name is Shannon. Im a normal 15 year old Canadian Girl, West Coast born and raised. And as of this moment, in exactly 11 days 18 hours 27 minutes and 45 seconds I am going to be taking off in a plane bound for the Amsterdam Airport! In September I applied for a Rotary exchange which i have been wanting to go on my whole life. Rotary offered me the chance to go on a short term exchange. So I went through all of the steps and wound up getting my number one country and am now going the The Netherlands to live with my exchange girl Nienke, in Roermond (which is in the south) from June 22nd to July 21st. 
Honestly, i Have no idea what is going to happen once i get there!! I guess its just kind of a wait and see kind of thing, and I am so ready for that! To just go with the flow, I just want to see what its like to live life as a European. I find a lot of the time Im planning out every second of my day and it'll be interesting to see my self try and let go a bit of my OCD tendencies.
I know some things that I definitely want to see are: go to Amsterdam, see the  St.Jans Kathedraal- in 's-Hertogenbosch, go to Thorn, see Anne Frank Huis, go to The Red Light District (that would be suuuch a different experience!), I want to eat dutch cheese and chocolate, I want to go out on 16th birthday (which is on the 19th so before I leave!) and have my first legal drink!, I want to have fries with mayo,but most of all just become totally immersed in the Dutch culture and learn the language (or at least do as much of that as I can in 30 days). 
Ill be staying with Nienke and her family which consists of her mum Hanneke, her dad Herman and her sister Maartje, as well as her boyfriend Nicolaas! After I arrive in the netherlands on the 23rd of june I will be spending 30 days there until the 21st of july when me and Nienke will both get on a plane to come to Canada and and she will get to see the Canadian culture and sights, and meet my family being my brother Jordan my sister Emily my mum Angie and my dad david, as well as my boyfriend alex! And she will be here until mid-august :)
I guess Im most nervous about the plane ride there.. I've never flown by my self before and have only ever been one trip where plane ride were necessary, and even then i was a lot younger and don't really remember it that well. Im half dreading half so excited for that moment when i go past the security gates and leave my family behind me in YVR airport and realize that I'm on my own and its just me representing my country and the Rotary club, making my own first impressions on everyone around me, in a country I've never been to before and where I do not speak the native language pretty much at all! (though I'm told almost every dutch person speaks some degree of english, thank you so much Dutch schooling!)
So for the next week and a half until my flight and most likely until my next entirely you can count on it that I shall be packing and unpacking, having extreme mood swings, somehow studying for my final exams (more stress!) saying goodbye before i go, and being more excited for this than anything else in the world :)
spreek je later, Shannon
ps. if anyone knows where you can buy plugin adapters (is that what they are called??) for northamerican plugs to european outlets please let me know!! I'm in the market for one