Tuesday, September 7, 2010

False Starts and Fresh Foods

Well into the second week of school classes are surprisingly still largely undetermined for many students. It is hard to describe, but the Dutch University system is extremely easy going, but not in the way you would think. For example, University started last Monday and most people (other international students included) assumed that classes started that day as well, but this simple, common sense conclusion was completely wrong. Monday was simply the start of the new school year, which was marked with opening ceremonies, not school, a fact that the international office neglected to tell us and one of the first sign that things were most certainly going to be different here.

As for the classes themselves, you are expected to always be prompt and prepared (perhaps even more so than back home), yet for many classes times and classrooms are not fixed. So, for some classes you meet the first day and the professor explains that this is actually not a good day for him and enquires when/if the students would be available to meet at other times, on different days. Or, in some instances a first meeting is not even scheduled and the professor contacts everyone by email to see when the students would be available for class. Then, when you add into this mix classes that actually do meet at a fixed time and date, as well as the very limiting factor of only being able to take courses in English, it is a daunting task to find a viable class schedule. Fortunately though, Farrell has been able to work out his classes completely, and I am only waiting on two of mine to see if they will be moved or cancelled. So, I am very happy to say the ordeal is almost over. Of course, that is not to say we have not enjoyed the past few weeks. Yes, it has been stressful, but it has honestly been more entertaining than anything else. Plus, we both really like the classes we are taking...of the ones that have started anyway. Oh, and most classes here only meet once a week for around two hours, rather than two or three times a week as is the norm back home. Needless to say, it will be interesting at the end of all this to see which system we end up preferring.

On to another point of interest, it is surprising how cheap it is to eat healthy. Or, perhaps better wording: it is surprising how healthy it is to eat cheap. The least expensive foods here are fruits and vegetables. On Saturdays and Mondays there is a market in the city center that sells fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, cheese, meat, bread, etc. and it is all so affordable. Last time we went we bought 4 limes, a bag of red peppers, a bag of onions, bananas, a kilo of mushrooms, and two large hunks of specialty cheese for 10 Euros (give or take a Euro), with the cheese being the most expensive at a grand total of 5 Euros. Interestingly, at the store just one hunk of cheese is anywhere from 5-7 Euros, depending on the type. At this point though, the only need to go to the store is for pasta, milk, bathroom essentials, and items of that nature. Regardless, while everything else may be more expensive here, eating healthy at home is extremely affordable.

Things to Come
As this post has already become longer than anticipated, be sure to check back in the next few days for a post largely dedicated to exploring Nijmegen, its outskirts, and our ever-improving cycling abilities.

Until Next Time,

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