It’s been a while and although I’ve been really busy, I thought the blog could do with an update about how my Meivakantie (May holidays) went though.
During the last week of April and the first week of May I enjoyed a week’s vacation from school. I travelled down on Friday night at the beginning of the vacation to Maastricht, where I stayed the night with a friend before visiting Liege in Belgium with a member of his Rotary Club. The city is French-speaking and definitely pretty different to the Netherlands, and hearing a whole new language after travelling half an hour out of the country was pretty cool.
I caught the train back home that evening and spent a few days with friends, and then on Tuesday found myself back in Maastricht visiting my friend there with another exchange student. Maastricht is definitely one of my favourite places in the Netherlands. The city is in the very south of the Netherlands and one of the oldest in the country, and it’s character is totally different to cities like Amsterdam or Utrecht.
I got back home on Wednesday, and the next day I moved to my second host family. It was really strange to be suddenly living with a new family, and to adapt to a new lifestyle just as I did when I first arrived.
The day after my move was 27 April, which, here in the Netherlands, was Koningsdag (Kings Day) and is a Dutch national celebration! To celebrate, I travelled to Amsterdam with some other exchange students and, of course, we dressed in orange, the national colour of the Netherlands.
We wandered the streets and really enjoyed the atmosphere and everything going on in the city, Amsterdam is always packed and buzzing with energy, and never more so than on Kings Day.
I stayed the night with an exchange student friend living in a town north of Amsterdam, and headed back to my new home the next day.
During the second week of vakantie I travelled with my host family to La Roche, Belgium, which is in the Ardennes mountain range. It’s really beautiful area, and was heavily fought over during the Second World War.
I went abseiling with two of my host brothers the first day, and we all went canoeing the second day. On the third day my host Mum dropped me off at a cave system they’d been to before, and I joined a group for an amazing guided tour.
On our last day we travelled to the town of Bastogne, which was one of the main sites where fighting took place during the Battle of the Bulge, during the Allied liberation of Europe. The battle was the site of the highest American loss of the life during the war.
Bastogne is now home to a large Second World War museum, which primarily focuses on the fighting in the Ardennes. Everyone who visits is given a headset, and the walk through the museum is narrated by the voices of four characters each involved in the battle in some way, which activate depending on which area of the museum you’re in. It’s awesomely done, and the whole experience is really engrossing and impactful.
Outside the museum is also a large memorial dedicated to the US forces.
We got home on Saturday night, and the next day I went with a group of friends to the Efteling for the last day of the meivakntie. The Efteling is the main theme park in the Netherlands, and it was a great day.
I’m also finishing this post with a week to go until Eurotour! Pretty soon, all of the Rotary Youth Exchange students in the Netherlands will be spending two weeks together travelling around Europe in a bus. We’ll be visiting Germany, Poland, Austria, Italy and France. I’m really excited and it should be an awesome experience!