“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.”Seneca
Class is in session (and boy do I have lots to learn)! I have just finished my first week and a half of school. I was super excited for classes (nerd I know) because I’ve been in need of some routine, and they have met/exceeded all of my expectations.
They go by “blocks” instead of semesters here, which is similar to the quarter system back in the United States. I am taking three classes this block: Culture & Identity in a Globalizing Europe, Social Movements, and Dutch.
My classes consist of a lecture portion (~25-50 students), and tutorial (discussion) sessions (~10-15 students). Each class session is about 2 hours, which is way longer than my attention span can handle at times, but with tutorials it goes by quickly. The coolest thing about my tutorials is that there are students from all around the world (Singapore, France, Poland, Greece, China, South Korea, and England- to name a few). Though it can get rough sometimes because there are people with heavy accents (and I’m sure some feel the same way about mine), their perspectives and understandings of the world are truly enriching and engaging. The three professors that I have for this semester are also from all over the world: New Zealand, the Netherlands, and (you will never believe it) the USA!!
Something that I didn’t expect from studying with international students, especially Europeans, was the abundance of knowledge that they had about current events not just in their local communities, but globally. I had a classmate come up to me to talk about American politics (a fun subject), and they knew more than I did. Professors also make constant references to political issues and turmoil around the globe, so I honestly spent my first week simultaneously taking notes and looking up the different social and political phenomena that they were making references to.
The Dutch class has been super fun though! I took Chinese for 7 years, so I figured that learning another Germanic language would be a lot easier. Boy was I wrong. I have definitely forgotten how much I’ve struggled with learning Chinese at the beginning, and I am revisiting all of the same frustrations and challenges. I think Dutch is harder though because they use the same alphabet but everything is pronounced differently. Guess we’ll have to see how it is at the end of this block.
In case you were wondering what Dutch I’ve learned: Hoi! Mijn naam is Kiana. Ik kom uit Amerika. Ik spreek Engels. Aangenaam. (Hi! My name is Kiana. I am from America. I speak English. Nice to meet you).
Aside from all of the learning I’ve been doing inside the class, I have also been able to explore more of Maastricht and settle into to life here. For those of you who don’t know, cooking and biking and not strengths of mine, but both are essential to living here. I tried to cook a chicken breast for the first time last week and nearly set the kitchen on fire (shoutout to my roommate Hannah for helping me and teaching me). I recently found this Asian supermarket though, so I ended up finding ingredients for curry and fried rice (and didn’t break the kitchen in the process of cooking). They also have 5,000 different kinds of ramen, which I have saved as cheat meals when I’m too lazy to make anything else.
Fun fact: The Asian market here sells “American food” (ie. Twinkies, Fruit Loops, and Capri Sun). I was just as surprised as you probably are.
Biking has also been a huge adjustment for me because 1) I’m incredibly out of shape and 2) haven’t biked since I was in middle school. I had to bike against 25 mi/hr winds and it was nice because the wind was cold so my legs were numb and I almost couldn’t feel the pain from biking anymore, but I was also sweating and panting like crazy. I will say though, that the worst blow to your self-confidence is when little kids bike past you (because everyone- and I mean everyone- bikes, and does it better than me). I did bike 10km (~6 miles) yesterday though, so I’m getting the hang of it.
Also if you have any name suggestions for my bike I am currently taking them because she’s cute and deserves to be named.