It’s almost time!

Hoi! I have about 9 days left in the states now! It’s so strange to think I will be leaving soon.

Last night I went out in Atlanta with some friends as a bit of a goodbye. We got rained on a bit but it was a fun last night out in Atlanta. My friend Brittany thought that I was going to a collection of countries, as in she thought the Netherlands was a general area, like Scandinavia haha. The name does make it sound so, but no- it’s just one country. I think I might call it Holland more often, to avoid confusion.

I have been learning some Dutch thanks to a kindly YouTube user, Dutchforn00bs. The name pretty much says it all. So far, I have learned how to introduce myself (Ik ben Katelyn!), how to say hello and goodbye (hallo, dag) and some general pronunciation details. I know that I probably won’t be needing much of this since the Dutch start learning English at a very young age and their accents are very light, it’s fun to try and embrace a new language. It’s going to be an interesting g experience over there, just trying to run basic errands. I’ve heard a popular grocery store is called Albert Heijn (I think I’m spelling that right…) so I went to check out the website to see what kind of foods they sell and EVERYTHING was in Dutch. Even google translate couldn’t do much for me there. I guess I will be basing many of my purchase on visuals, at least for a while.

I still need to pack, because my friend Allie, who is already in Sweden, told me to pack early because it took her awhile. It looks like I will be flying into Brussels, Belgium instead of Amsterdam because the loads look better. Oh the life of flying standby. Both cities are about the same distance from Eindhoven so, not much of a loss there. And if we get in early enough, there might be time to explore Brussels!

I am so excited that the time is approaching, but I will miss my friends and family in the US dearly while I’m gone. It doesn’t feel real, but I guess everyone feels that way before a big move or change.

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Confession

I wish Dutch had more cognates. This has got to be the most difficult language to learn unguided.

On a happier note, Google Translate and I are becoming best friends! And thankfully most of the Dutch people also know English. Dank u well, Netherlands.

Preparation.

As many of you know, for the Spring 2012 semester, I am going to be packing up my things and leaving Georgia Tech and the city of Atlanta for a semester abroad in Europe! My study abroad experience is with the Technology University of Eindhoven, which is in the Netherlands (also known as Holland). The exchange program is through Georgia Tech so luckily, my class choices were pretty simple because I will be taking studio with all of the other International and Dutch students!

One thing I do want to explain is it was not an easy road to get here- there are a LOT of preparations you need to make before you move to another country for 6 months! Between all the meetings, appointments, passport photos, paperwork, research, shopping, organizing- I feel like I have a part time job! I know all of this will be worth it, though, when I take the plunge and begin my trip to Eindhoven, The Netherlands!

The first challenge I face on my trip across 6 time zones: I am flying stand-by. This is because my mother is a flight attendant which means I get free flight benefits, quite a blessing and a privilege when you’re flying a pricy ticket to Amsterdam Schipol Airport (which I have been to before, slept in actually…highly recommend the cushy lounge chairs on the second floor!). The disadvantage of course is that you are never guaranteed a seat…hence the reason I have slept in the Amsterdam Airport before. There wasn’t enough room on the plane! However, it’s hard to complain about these things when you get to fly free. I am very thankful for that and each time I’ve had to sleep in an airport has been quite the experience.

The second challenge is that I have to take a train from Amsterdam to Eindhoven on NS (the Netherlands train service). I remember taking a train from the Amsterdam Airport to our hotel. It was found with slight difficulty (we had to ask around). However, the locals are very friendly. Even if they are not Dutch, many of the other visitors are European and almost all speak English and are willing to help you.

The third challenge I face- I can’t move into my new home until 6 days after I arrive in Eindhoven! This is because the university, TU/e, doesn’t actually have its own housing. It has a partnership with a student housing company in Eindhoven, and the company itself determines the move-in date. The date they have given me is February 6th, the first day of classes. I will be reporting in Eindhoven for International Student Orientation , however, on February 1st and 2nd.

The plus side of this is that I will have a few extra days to explore and have some fun before buckling down for classes! This is exciting mostly because both of my parents are trying to come with me to Eindhoven (they’re a little nervous about leaving me on my own, haha). We are thinking about taking a quick train to Belgium or Germany (both are quite close by). We may even go visit our relatives from my Dad’s side of the family! They live in Brussels, Belgium, which is actually where my grandfather moved from to start life in the US at the age of 12. It’s exciting to know I’ll be so close to my heritage! Vermeyen is actually a name of Dutch origin…I am curious as to whether that means for once in my life, everyone will be able to pronounce it!

Anyway, as you can tell, I am thrilled to begin a journey that as I’ve heard from all my friends and family, will be “once in a lifetime.” I have about 22 days left in America and I plan to make the most of it, before I leave my homeland for 6 months!

One of the main draws to my new home is the fact that it is so close to the campus of my new school!

This is apparently what my new home looks like on a sunny day 🙂 I hope those balconies are actually usable!