Het leven in Utrecht: My life in The Netherlands
What can I say about my days in the Netherlands? It was so great, so intense, that I couldn’t find time to write on this blog… OK, this “I had no time” is actually no excuse, but the Summer School was REALLY awesome and really intense!
In this post - let me clarify right away - I’ll only write about the “cool” part, the social part of these almost 20 days… If you want to know more about monads, lambda calculus, type systems and lazy evaluation, I promise I’ll write another post with the hardcore details. I PROMISE.
On our first Wednesday of Summer School, in the evening, we ate pancakes. YEAH, pancakes are typically dutch. They are crazy about pancakes, and eat them mainly with some sorts of sweet syrups and milk :) We went to “Theehuis Rhijnauwen”, and Prof. Doaitse Swierstra kindly paid the whole bill… Take a look at the amount of happiness that free food can bring:
This place - Theehuis Rhijnauwen - is very often frequented by dutch families, taking a rest from work, relaxing and enjoying the surrounding nature. All of this 30min apart from the city centre by bike. This is how the Theehuis looks from the outside:
And how the building itself looks:
Because we had only 2 weeks of summer school, there was only 1 “actual” weekend we could enjoy. Initially I had no plans for these two days, but at the last minute (literally) I bought a ticket for the “Discover Holland Day”, a day excursion to the cities of Gouda and Kinderdijk, including a visit to a cheese farm where we would make our own cheese. This last minute decision (to buy the ticket) was the RIGHT ONE, I easily found out that day… :)
After our visit to the Hoogewaard cheese farm, which was already awesome, we went to Kinderdijk. Kinderdijk, the fantastic and worldwide famous network of windmills that is THE SYMBOL of the Netherlands and of the dutch people. We had a picnic, wandered around freely, I had a great time there… Here is the proof of my presence at that wonderful place:
Also in Kinderdijk the coolest picture of my life until now just “happened” :D The faithful depiction of my huge happiness at that afternoon. Captured in digital media thanks to the talent of my friend Sepideh Alavi… Sepideh, dank U wel :)
Due to saturday’s extreme joy, sunday was bound to be a bit depressing - everything was closed. To avoid this depression we went - me and my roommates Athanasios and Luis - to Fort Rhijnauwen, which also later turned out to be a great idea.
This important fortress has a history of well over 100 years, was built with completely MANUAL labour (circa 10.000 children excavated the canals around the fortress), and served as one of Holland’s defense points during World War II. Much more than just the fortress, though, the whole surrounding region is very beautiful and preserved. The dutch love to enjoy sunny days cycling in the fields and having picnics. Take a look at Rhijnauwen in a typical sunday afternoon:
Then we reach a VERY important aspect of the dutch way of life: cycling. As is already well known, the dutch go just ANYWHERE on their bikes. Actually they almost never get off their beloved “fietsen”. They eat on their bikes, they drink beer on their bikes, they get cash from the ATM on their bikes…
Therefore I had to have my own bike while living in the Netherlands, and it was relatively cheap. I paid circa 50€ to rent a bike for 10 days, and I used it A LOT. To go to class everyday, to relax cycling around Rhijnauwen, to meet my friends and go to parties in the city centre, even to take people home late at night :) It was quick and efficient: it took me 13 minutes from the University campus to the city centre, and it was usually faster than the bus. So there you have it, a picture of me and my bike, my fiets:
As a perfect ending for this description of my day-to-day in Utrecht, a picture of a late evening at home. We just decided to put our coffee table and chairs outside, eat bread with Nutella, drink coffee and greet the neighbours. That’s what I call “do nothing and relax” :)
That’s all folks! This was what I had to say about some of the stuff I did and how was my day-to-day life in the Netherlands. Common sense now dictates that I should write a post about lectures, lab sessions, what I learned - technically speaking - in these 20 days. I’ll try to summarize all this as much as I can and write a post about the “hardcore” stuff. I promise.