So it's about 11 am in the Netherlands on my first day otherwise known as my 18th birthday! All the travel here went rather smoothly, the flights seemed short and checking luggage went off without a hitch. Upon arrival at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam we waited for our luggage and passed through...well, nothing. There didn't seem to be any customs when you passed through the sign that said customs, only a mob of eager AFS people to greet us. I finally found the sign that said "Welkom Patrick" and made my way over to Birgit (my host mom). We hugged and an AFS volunteer approached me and handed me a bag with my Dutch course in it and informed me we'd have our orientation in 3 weeks. I can't wait to see the other kids again and meet the ones from all over the world (I'm also impatient to meet Dutch kids my age but as far as I know there are 'neighbor boys' who I will be set up with).
Typical of my life meeting host families, I was the first to leave. No emotional goodbyes on the part of us ten Americans, seeing that we were swallowed by our Dutch families. It took 2 hours to get to Waalre, during which Birgit and I made good conversation. She is a nice woman with good English. Yesterday when I got here we used mostly (all) English to communicate because Oma (grandma...in German) was in town and she only speaks German, the kids speak German and Dutch but no English, I speak English - no German and (let's be real) no Dutch. Luckily Birgit and Erik speak German, Dutch and English so there was a slight translation game up until about an hour ago when Oma headed home to Deutschland.
I have learned a few things already about life here in the Netherlands. Let me outline a few: There is no such thing as 'I don't care,' make a decision and stick with it. I have already many times been told upon saying I don't mind/I don't care that "well, that doesn't quite work." Ok, fine, I'll decide. Another thing, biking 6 km into Eindhoven for school is child's play (Erik's hobby is making bike maps with GPS, he claims biking 25-30 km away (mind you there and back making it around 60) is just enough for him and any further is too far, right). My bed was comfortable though a little hard.
OH and JESUS IT'S COLD HERE. Sorry, I just remembered that that is a large portion of my shock here, IT'S FREEZING. I am wearing a sweatshirt and could easily wear pants. Ridiculous. I didn't think I'd miss the heat but I really do. I just unpacked and I realized just how much I brought - alot. But that's quite alright with me. I just gave them their gifts from Shaker/Cleveland and they seemed to appreciate them, although the children might be slightly abusing the harmonicas. Dennis is fun and so is Sonja but I really need to get cracking on Dutch to get on with them. Dennis has decided that today he will not take his ritalin so we'll see how that all unfolds!
I miss everyone bunches but I suppose thus is life. I start school in two weeks (I know, it's going to be a long haul until that point), after which things will hopefully start rolling along at a nice pace. I guess I'll spend some time today with AFS NL's Dutch program and Birgit said she'd take me to the supermarket for some stuff.