Hogeschool Utrecht, Netherlands
Spring 2016 Semester
During times when I wasn’t traveling around my normal schedule would look like this: Wake up go to class, come back eat, spend the remaining time with the wonderful people I met from around the world and most likely walk to Jumbo ( this became a daily or every other day habit). I have never felt so normal or at ease. I loved every moment over there. The days went by so fast and the atmosphere was laid back with a sense of responsibility. I felt truly at home while I was living in Utrecht.
This was one of my favorite parts of my study abroad experience. I was able to ride my bike everywhere. The Netherlands is so accommodating with cycling it was amazing. People from all ages rode their bikes to get from one place to another. Children started riding bikes at age two and I never saw one with training wheels. One of the most astonishing things that I will never forget was watching parents ride their bikes with their children. I saw this a couple times, a mother or father who had one child sitting in a seat on the front and back of their bikes and they were riding the bike as they were also holding onto the handles of another child who was riding a separate bike next to them. I never did see a bike collision during my five and a half month stay. Along with cycling, the public transportation was extremely easy and fun to figure out. The trains were really nice and even had wifi in them. The only thing that I had to adjust to when traveling was allowing extra time to use the public transportation. The Netherlands had the most expensive public transportation out of all seven countries that I visited but they also had the most clean and comfortable ones. A typical day of me transporting myself around would be on my bicycle but I would take the train to visit other cities in the Netherlands and never once went on a wrong one.
When I am in public I like to notice people’s behavior and appearances. While I was in the Netherlands and even while I traveled to other surrounding countries some things that stood out to me were how nicely people dressed. I never saw a hoodie, sweat pants or even people walking around in running shoes. This is extremely different than the way people in the midwest dress, especially on a college campus where daily ¾ students will be wearing a sweatshirts. Not in the Netherlands, this includes the campus where my courses were being held. Most of the time during my stay the weather was upper fifties or lower sixties and raining which in Michigan translates into comfortable clothes weather. In the Netherlands they would wear amazing shoes, chic jackets and would have everything else looking really nice. While cycling is the most popular form of transportation in Utrecht, that didn’t stop woman from wearing dresses and skirts. This comes to a new experience for me in the Netherlands, wearing a dress and riding a bike.