Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lessons Learned

We have officially been living in Nijmegen for a little over two months now, so I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of what we have learned in this time.

Lessons Learned:
1. Get a hair cut before coming to Europe. The cheapest cut I found was for 22 euros or a little over 30 dollars. Needless to say, we may not be getting haircuts for a long time.

2. Cash is king -- credit cards, checks, etc., these things are useless. Only Dutch cards work here. Apparently it is a completely different numbering system. Of course, you can still use your debit card to withdraw money from the ATM.

3. Shops close at 6:00. They will lock you in. Yes, I am speaking from personal experience.

4. Grocery stores will claim to be open 7 days a week, not completely true. They are open everyday, but not at the same hours, not opening until 4:00 pm on Sundays.

5. On Mondays, most stores/businesses do not open until noon. I don't know why.

6. Just because you have directions, that does not mean they are the correct directions.

7. Know the address of where you are staying.

8. Find out where to get and dispose of essential items (food and trashbags).

9. Be friendly and patient. Getting angry further frustrates your intended goal.

10. When you do get angry, forgive yourself and move on.

11. For people from North Carolina or surrounding areas, it is cold. Warm clothes are essential.

12. Eating a good meal in, is always cheaper than eating out.

13. Drink plenty of water. It seems obvious, but it can be easy to forget and if you do, it is the quickest way to start feeling bad. For us, coming from the Caribbean and N.C. (where we would sweat and naturally want water), this cold climate just makes it difficult to remember.

14. The days are shorter. No, it is not just because we are nearing winter. Rather, because we are so much farther north, the light reaches us less, so sunrise is later and sunset is earlier.

15. A bike is a must. If you are spending any extended amount of time in the Netherlands, you will need a bike for getting around. Otherwise, you will be walking because buses do not go everywhere you may want to go and not everything you need will be within reasonable walking distance.

Until next time,

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Warm and Dry

On this cold, rainy, typically Dutch day, it seems a good time to update everyone on our stay here in Nijmegen. Last week and this week have mostly been filled with studying, as will this next week. Farrell had his midterms and related assignments this week and mine are all next week, so I have been working hard this week in order to try and make next week more managable. Of course, in the midst of all this, I ended up catching some sort of virus. At first I just thought it was a cold, but I ended up with aches and a fever, but after a day solely dedicated to getting better, well, I did just that. Though, every now and then the stuffed nose and sniffles reappear. Regardless, Farrell has been lucky and has managed to escape any illness, thus far.

We did not go to the market today because we still had plenty of groceries (and it's been cold and rainy), so we have stayed in all day in the warmest room in the house working on various things. With the candle lit, the heater on, and the smell of all the teas and coffee we have been drinking it smells like Christmas: nice, cozy, and spiced with cinammon. I think there may be some other tennants in the house now, since our landlady has other rooms that she rents out, but I think he/she/they must work because we never actually see them. Simply renting the room for a place to sleep, it is likely they go home or travel on the weekend, which is fairly common since housing is in short supply.

Returning to our day, I made potato soup for lunch. I chopped up some onions and red pepper to make a vegetable broth and let that cook up for a while. Then, I diced two tiny potatoes we had and added them to the soup and let that cook until the potatoes were tender. For the final step, I added some dehydrated potatoes Mom sent me from home (I have since found them here, by the way) to thicken the soup and give it the right potatoey texture, adding a little greek yogurt to gice it a slight sour cream taste. Needless to say, it was quite tastey and a perfect dish for this dreary, yet cozy day.

I should probably get back to work. Right now I am preparing for my Dutch History and Culture exam on Monday. If you would like to take a look at some aspects of Dutch History yourself, please visit this website, which we actually use for our class in addition to books and historical articles. It is interesting, interactive, and gives a nice overview of Dutch History, just make sure you change the language option to English at the top (the blue tab).

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Univeristy Photo's Up

Jessica and I went on a walk, in between light rain showers, to explore some parts of Radboud's campus we had not yet visited properly. I had gotten a quick glimpse of a fragment of a massive concrete tower-like structure through a window in the Huygensgebouw (HG) building during a Prolog programing lab, and, thinking of the centrality of the bell tower on NCSU's campus, I thought it deserved looking in to. It turned out to be noteworthy and cool, but by a different metric. It was a physically prominent marker for a very cool area of campus, including the super-modern HG building, an underground very strong magnet lab, and some really cool green space designs. Here is an excerpt from a Radboud sub-domain webpage on the magnetic lab:
"The High Field Magnet Laboratory (HFML) is a European research facility used for research on materials in very high magnetic fields. This striking building is in fact a large factory that is needed to achieve a continuous field of 33 Tesla or a pulsed field of 60 Tesla in a small research cell. There are only two other comparable laboratories in the entire world.
The main users, research scientists of the Institute for Molecules and Materials, concentrate on the measurement of quantum effects, magnetic manipulation of molecules and on optical and far infra-red spectroscopy. The state of weightlessness that occurs in magnetic fields is comparable to those in space and provides excellent conditions for growing pure (protein) crystals." - Radboud
Anyway, check out the decent sized photo set of Radboud University, including beautiful green spaces and cool building designs among a spattering of other interesting things. Click here for a large image sideshow with descriptions visible, or here for the set main-page.


Edit: You may have noticed that the blog currently has a poll question up. Voting in this poll is only open for 2 more days, so please, if you would like to share your input, which helps us improve the blog, do so while you have a chance!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

To Arnhem, by Bike

So, we have a new photo set from our afternoon trip to Arnhem last week. We biked 26 km there and another 26 on the way back for a grand total of about 35 miles. Impressed? Well, you probably shouldn't be -- here, that's still considered a reasonable distance, just not one you would make on a rainy day. Anyway, take a look at the photos, which chronicle our journey from Nijmegen, through the countryside and smaller villages, to historic Arnhem. We will be heading back at some point in the next few weeks, so let us know if there is something in particular you would like to see. Enjoy!   

From the top, or view the set here.

Jessica and Farrell

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Two Small Photo Sets Up

Some of you may have already stumbled on these pre-published by exploring my Flicker account. They have been online for a while as I added pictures to them, waiting for them to be substantial enough to publish. Unlike all of my other sets, I will continue adding pictures to these in the future, as I take more photos best categorized by one of them.

The first set consists of pictures of general happenings from around our flat. Find a large version of the first picture in the set here (recommended) or the set main-page.

The second set is called 'The Biking Dutch,' and is populated with, you guessed it, pictures of Dutch people biking. I have seen so many cool things on bikes here, but have so far only documented a tiny fraction of them. Again, this will be an ongoing project. Recommended viewing starts here, set main-page here.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Recomended Reading

I just wanted to quickly point out a not-particularly-recent addition to our blog-roll, a collection of links to other blogs we like, located in the right pane of any of our blog's pages. Peggy Boone, a good friend of ours from NC State, is doing some very, very cool pre-Ph.D fieldwork studying black howler monkeys in Mexico. I want to make a special point of recognizing that her photography and writing skills totally trump my own, so have mercy when coming back to my work. I was shooting a 5 year old point-and-shoot camera while she was covering college level athletic events weekly. I was the noob playing with her and Ty Johnson's cameras every time they set them down within reach. In general, she rocks. Her blog, The Gonzo Journey, also seems to be habitually at the top of our blog-roll, which is sorted by most recent post. One of my greatest envies in life is the frequency of her posting.

Check the blog-roll to the right for snippets + links.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Photos: The City of Nijmegen

Sorry for the longish gap without a post, our lives have been very academic-centric recently. Look for some details of the more interesting highlights of our academic escapades in the near future.

However, as you know by the title, this is not an apology post. I've just finished tagging and writing descriptions for a nice size set of new photos. Jessica and I took advantage of a rare warm, dry day to explore Nijmegen, documenting as we wandered. We biked from our flat to Nijmegen's central station, where we parked our bikes and, as we transitioned to foot travel, I was able to use my camera, so the set starts there. We walked North to Nijmegen's large train/bike bridge over the river Waal, from which some of the best views of the city can be found. Notice the other large bridge visible in may of my pictures? That is one of the critical bridges in WWII's Operation Market Garden. Perhaps you've seen the movie 'A Bridge too Far?' Well, it was one of the ones that was not too far. Also note that the barges visible in many of my bridge pictures seem to travel as fast as cars. They move from the large car bridge to the bike bridge we were on in what has to be less then 2 minutes. I would estimate no less then 20 of them passed in our 30 minutes on the bridge. After getting some nice photographs of the city from a distance, we walked the streets visible to us earlier, still photographing, to get the micro-perspective.

Start viewing large photos at the beginning of the set here (recommended) or view the set main-page.

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