How is it May already?? Where did all that time go! I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun (and studying hard ;))
The last two months have been so amazing and everyday I am so grateful for this experience, all the things I have seen and been a part of and all the friends I have met along the way! Spring is such a beautiful and cheery time in Europe and I’m going to share with you five of the highlights:
How do I even begin to explain the craziness that is carnival. I have never seen grown ups care so much about their costumes nor have I seen so many colours and frills in one day. Carnival is a big holiday in the Netherlands, big enough to merit a week off from university (win). It involves lots of dressing up in any costume you see fit, lots of drinking, and lots of parades. Maastricht stopped for the three days of carnival and everyone in the city came together to celebrate in the main square. There was a big parade, canons and even some fireworks. My friends and I thought experiencing Carnivale in Maastricht wasn’t enough and went over to Cologne in Germany for a day to experience their carnival. It was just as crazy with the added bonus of chocolates, lollies and flowers being thrown from the floats at their parade. Carnivale was non stop for three days and was one of the best experiences I have had on exchange!
We have been lucky enough to have a few weeks off and some long weekends over the last 2 months which has meant lots of time to travel. It is weird how normal it has become to hear “Im going to Germany for lunch tomorrow” or “I can’t I’m in Paris that weekend”. One of my favourite travel experiences so far was to the Matterhorn in Switzerland. I travelled with 2 other Australians and it was our first time seeing mountains of that size and for 2 of us, our first time seeing snow! I could not stop saying “wow” and was in awe the whole time. I was also lucky enough to spend the break between period 4 and 5 travelling central europe stopping in Budapest, Bratislava, Prague, Krakow and Warsaw. I have also just returned from a trip to Portugal to soak up some of those sunny rays.
ESN stands for the Erasmus Student Network and they are responsible for helping international exchange students get comfortable and meet fellow exchange students. They organise parties weekly as well as other events including trips around Europe, lunches in Germany, soccer tournaments and social dinners. They do a great job at it and really help students make the most of their exchange. One of my favourite events they hold is cantus. It took me a while to understand what cantus was but basically it is drinking beer and singing songs with all of your friends. It is always a great night singing as loud as you can to Enrique Iglesias.
Here is a bit of a video of what its about:
As I said before springtime really is beautiful in Europe and especially in the Netherlands when their iconic tulips begin to go. After dancing all night at a Justin Timberlake concert in Arhem I went to the tulip fields at the Keukenhof . It really is a beautiful place and worth a visit if you are up that way. There was so many different arrangements of tulips and flowers and big fields full of them. It is not just at the Keukenhof where you see beautiful flowers, every day in Maastricht I notice new flowers blooming and the streets becoming prettier.
Yet another crazy holiday in the Netherlands which includes lots of dressing up and lots of drinking. Kingsday is a national holiday here celebrating their new King. ESN organises a trip to Amsterdam for the weekend to celebrate in the capital city where several festivals and other festivities are held. During we Kingsnight we wandered the streets of Amsterdam and came across several outdoor parties and concerts along the canals as well as lots of boat parties on the canal. On Kingsday I attended the Kingsland festival which was amazing and we got to see some of the Netherlands finest DJs including Martin Garrix, Armin Van Buuren, W & W and Afrojack. There was a sea of orange (the national colour) over Amsterdam that weekend with many people sporting crowns. It was such an experience to be a part of and I would definitely recommend that if you are in the Netherlands over Kingsday weekend to head to Amsterdam or Eindhoven and join in the festivities!!
Obviously between all this fun there is lots of study and uni work but all in all I am loving exchange, even the uni part!