Well, for starters, the seasons certainly change.
One week it’ll be snowing and the next there’s so much pollen in the air it might as well be snow.
Utrecht in Spring was quite tragic in terms of allergies but beautiful in terms of nature. Every week the fields were a different colour with flowers: yellow then purple then white then pink. The Netherlands is beautiful in the Spring and experiencing the sunshine and the flowers after 2 months of cold and clouds was delightful.
Before the mid-semester break I was quite settled into my routine of 3 days on campus: cycling onto campus in the late morning, attending a class or two, having a nibble at a cafe with some friends before working on assignments and returning home for a family dinner with the flatmates. When the break ended, the blocks changed and I had to be on campus twice a week.
This meant more time in the sun more time exploring Utrecht. When the sun comes out in the Netherlands, the community is definitely more lively. We celebrated liberation day at an outdoor festivals, visited man-made ‘beaches’ because Utrecht is inland, swam in the lakes and rivers nearby, visited outdoor food markets and so on.
I work as a yoga studio receptionist twice per week. This was an enjoyable experience but remember that work should not consume your semester abroad. It is important to focus on your studies and enjoy life itself. Due to my light schedule, I chose to work in an environment that I really enjoyed and through this, I met many like-minded individuals.
In terms of integrating into Dutch society, here in the Netherlands, they speak English very well and so learning Dutch has been challenging as the Dutch are very accommodating. I try to order, greet and thank in Dutch as practice and will hopefully improve in time. If you’re fortunate and your host country speaks English well as a collective then that’s great but definitely try your best to integrate and show interest in their culture. You’re living in their world now, do your best to adapt.
With season change, language change and a schedule change mid-way through the semester; there has certainly been a lot to adapt to but all for the best! I’m excited for the sunny days to come and to see what the rest of the semester holds.