The European Study Abroad: The Netherlands program has officially commenced! For the latest real-time updates, be sure to follow our Facebook page!
Days 1 & 2
Half of our study abroad program flew out of the Orlando Sanford airport. This airport is Florida’s best-kept secret. Catering predominately to Europeans and slightly obscure European airlines, we were able to get fares less than half of the cost of the cheapest flight at Orlando MCO. As soon as we arrived at the tiny airport, it felt as though we had already stepped into Europe. I heard a broad spectrum of languages spoken, but English was not one of them (and neither was Spanish!). My American passport amused the airport check-in person, who seemed genuinely surprised to have an American on the flight. After a very short layover in Miami, we were on the flight to Amsterdam, the capitol city of the Netherlands!
We arrived in Netherlands at 12:00pm, after a relatively painless flight. Going through customs always makes me nervous, but the official that checked my passport was the Dutch clone of a young Orlando Bloom! He stamped my passport without really checking it, and I was officially allowed entry into the Netherlands. We are staying in Eindhoven, so from Amsterdam we had to catch a train to the southern town. Luckily there is a direct train. After meeting up with the rest of the study abroad program that had taken different flights, we hopped on the two-hour train to Eindhoven and arrived in the city around 3:00pm. Our hotel, the Crown Inn, is located on the main square of Eindhoven and only two blocks from the train station. We checked in, threw out stuff in our rooms, and headed out to hit the town while shops were still open—they generally close around 5 or 6. Unlike most places in the US, the main shopping district of Eindhoven is for pedestrians—and bicycles!—only. You can literally only get to the shops by walking there! After buying cellphones, the group split into two: several went back to Amsterdam to catch the soccer (called “football” over here) game between the Netherlands and Northern Ireland, while the rest stayed in Eindhoven to go to the midnight premiere of Snow White and the Huntsman.
Day 3: COLD!
Today broke all records! It was only 9 degrees Celsius-around 41 degrees, and cold and rainy. It was colder today than Christmas day! The weather put somewhat of a hamper on our plans, and we decided instead of hiking around fields, that we’d have a shopping day in town. Usually shops are closed on Sundays, but today happened to be the one Sunday a month when shops are open from 12 to 6.
Day 4: Classes begin!
We had our first visit to the campus of TU/e today! TU/e is one of the leading technical universities in the Netherlands, kind of like the Florida Tech Dutch counterpart. From the outside, the buildings slightly remind me of a more modern version of Crawford. They are very modern, and kind of boxy. The inside, however, is an explosion of color—walls are painted orange and purple, floors are flecked with orange. I formerly hated the color orange, but after seeing it artfully used in TU/e, I am a fan for life! Our special guest lecturers were Professor Weffers and Mr. Wim Renders. Professor Weffers is a lecturer at TU/e and gave us an overview on the Dutch educational system and the communication plan TU/e designed in marketing itself against its largest competitor, the Technical University of Delft. Mr. Renders explained why we were studying in Eindhoven—which may seem like a random choice of places to study in Europe, when cities like Paris and London immediately spring to mind. Eindhoven was elected for 2011 as the “Smartest Region in the World.” It is an international competition, and the cities are measured on a plethora of aspects. Eindhoven was selected for its open innovation, green technology, and industry. While Eindhoven may not be a place many Floridians are familiar with, it is known throughout Europe as the Silicon Valley of Europe. After class, we proceeded on a cultural excursion to ‘s-Hertogenbosch, thankfully nicknamed “Den Bosch.” We visited on of the most fabulous Gothic Cathedrals. The cathedral was Catholic, which greatly surprised me (the Netherlands is a protestant country—Belgium, formerly part of the Netherlands, succeeded from the country to establish a Catholic state).
Stay tuned for Part II of our adventures!