A friend commented recently that most of my pictures from my time here so far have been related to bikes (or in Dutch- Fiets)! I explained to her that living in the 3rd most bike friendly city in the world (beaten only by Copenhagen and Amsterdam) this is simply unavoidable.
The Netherlands in general is a biking paradise and there is certainly no shortage of bikes! There is an estimated 18 million bikes in the Netherlands, compared to their population of around 16.8 million (you do the maths).
A few things I have noticed about cycling here so far: no matter which direction you are travelling the wind is always against you, stopping at traffic lights (especially at night) is seemingly optional, and cycling at any pace other than ‘I need to be somewhere 5 minutes ago’ (especially in the morning) often invokes strange looks.
In the last 5 and a half weeks I have achieved a lot. I have moved to a different country, been lost and found my way numerous times, handed in my first assignment, learnt a tiny amount of Dutch, and even had my first exam, amongst other things. Moving out for the first time is always going to be scary but I found the reality much less daunting than I had expected and I am proud of the feats I have already achieved.
Finding my feet here has been both a struggle at times, and also a joy. Both my bank account and I are only just starting to realise that I really do live here and am not in fact on holiday (although being in a different country has made this more difficult). Converting euros back to pounds in my head to figure out if something is actually good value for money is a constant task and I’m still not quite used to hearing people speak in a language I can’t understand, although it is not uncommon to hear people speaking English in many public places. Finding my feet here would have been a lot more difficult were it not for all of the wonderful people I have met and all the advice I got prior to my arrival here.
Regardless of the initial homesickness I really do feel that my feet have been planted in the right place, so I’ll leave you with this–
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go”