Thursday, March 11, 2010

Netherlands: First Impressions (August 2008)

I was pretty excited when I discovered that I got the scholarship for Netherlands. The kind of "jumping-up-and-down-shouting-like-crazy" kind of excited. Who wouldn't be doing the dance of joy when your dream of seeing Europe is near-reality!

When the time came to leave, I was sad to leave my just-married life behind but I was also excited to embark on this new adventure of education (hyeah right) and travel (oh yeah!). While on the plane, I barely slept. I'm not sure if it's because it was constantly daylight throughout the fourteen hour trip. I kept looking out the window to check the terrain. I kept looking at the screen map to see how far we have gone. I got really excited when we were over Russia. Vodkaland!

I utilized the in-flight entertainment of KLM quite well. I probably watched five movies and played some games. Rino and I feasted on the snacks and juice at the pantry while we stretched our legs and our stomachs at the plane's rear section.

When the flight attendant announced that we were about to land in Amsterdam, I got REALLY excited. I think anyone would be after being crammed to a seat for half a day!

We got off the plane and proceeded to the baggage claim. I prepared the sticker they usually give you for claim thinking that the guards will be asking for it, being used to the strict Philippine airport procedures. Lo! No guards waiting outside. I keep my sticker. I am free to go with my luggage without suspicion! I like this country already.

Some of the gang with our giant luggages. We tried to cram our new life in 25 kilo baggages.

Myk received us at the Schipol meeting point. The e-mail said the meeting point was red and white box outside the arrival area. I imagined a box the size of a balikbayan box so I actually missed this giant red and white cube staring at our face when we were looking for Myk. Thankfully one of us knew Myk and saw him.

I was at awe when we were buying train tickets. Myk used his debit card to purchase tickets for all of us. This was something new to me and I was amazed at how "high-tech" Netherlands is compared to the Philippines. Though it is no surprise, it's still cool to actually see the difference.

I was excited! It was going to be the first time I will be riding a train. Well, I've ridden the MRT but I really don't consider it a real train. And this train will be traveling cities. It was so cool! Well, being left behind was not too cool though. There were too many people trying to cram themselves in the train and we had too many bags we wanted to bring on board that it was not enough time for all eight of us to board.

When we finally got to board the train to Den Haag, it was then that that I realized the time. It was almost seven in the evening yet the sun looked like it was still three or four in the afternoon. So this was the long summer evenings I've always heard about.

What disconcerted me was when I looked out of the window, saw the highway and hardly saw any car on the road. I wondered whether people actually live in Netherlands. Why where there no cars in the parking lots? Why are there only a few people riding the trains? Why are people not outside in that beautiful sun? It was so surreal! It was something I will discover more about in the duration of my stay in Netherlands.

Look at that. Wide expanse of green. Boats on the canal. No people! Is this what First World is like?

It was then that I looked at my companions and I was glad to know that I have other Filipinos with me because I know studying in Netherlands will be an exciting roller coaster ride that needs to be shared and talked about. :)