Editor's Note: Senior Kelly Mischler, who recently completed her eligibility with the Green Bay volleyball team, is spending this semester attending The University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Mischler is keeping her friends, family and Phoenix fans up to speed on her travels and adventures in Europe with a blog. Below are excerpts from her blog...
I have been in the Netherlands now for almost 4 months and I feel like I haven't really seen the place -- This month is all about traveling in my new home. When I first came to Europe I was all about seeing everywhere but the Netherlands and I have. I have been to Barcelona, Pisa, Florence, Rome, and London!
I have been to a few places in the Netherlands already but I want to see more. And all of these places are perfect day trips. I have been to Amsterdam a few times. There is a sweet flea market that I have been too and need to go to again. There are a few museums that I would like to see and I really want to do a bike tour around the city too.
I have also been to Rotterdam on a field trip that was offered by one of my classes. We took a city tour and learned about architecture. Also there is a Primark in the city and a few of us are having a girly shopping trip there tomorrow!
And just this Friday we went on another field trip to the city of Gouda. Such a cute little town. So Dutch - I made my own stroopwafle and tasted some awesome cheese.
Next weekend we are going to Keukenhof. I'm really excited for this! It's a world famous garden - mostly known for all the tulips. It's going to be so pretty. I have to get tulip bulbs for my mom - it was a special request.
Utrecht, Dordrecht, Haarlem, Maastricht, Leiden, and Delft are more places that I want to visit this month. I need to do more research on these cities, because I want to know some cool things to check out when I'm there. In Delft, I want to go back and get Delft china and sit in the big wooden shoe that's in front of the souvenir store. Haarlem is supposed to be beautiful with a castle and a cathedral too. Leiden has a great beach and is also home to a Vans shoe factory.
Also this month is Queen's Day which is a big holiday for the Dutch. It's Queen Beatrix's official birthday. It's a huge day in the Netherlands. Everyone dresses up in orange. For our program we are getting orange T-shirts! If you can't tell I'm really pumped for this holiday. It's supposed to be a great atmosphere. Basically April is all about the Netherlands!
To continue on with the best trip ever!
Monday we went to the Vatican! It was such a great experience. Everything inside the walls of the Vatican was so beautiful and grand! We were on our way to the Museum and we got in with a tour group - best decision! Our Tour Guide's name was Kathy and she was hilarious and very good. She had a binder of visuals to help explain things.
The last part of the tour was the Sistine Chapel - so beautiful. Kathy the Tour Guide let us go and enjoy the Chapel for a bit on our own. It was breath-taking - simply unreal.
Another great tidbit from this tour is that Kathy was telling us about the Euros coins that the Vatican has, it has a picture of Pope Benedict on it. And if you are lucky enough to find a 50 cent piece with the Pope on it do not spend it! It's worth like 5 Euros and it's just really cool to have -- the reason I shared this is because I have one now!! I was looking through my change when paying for my dinner and there was this super shiny coin and I flipped it over and it was the Pope's face! I have it safe and sound in my collection of coins!
We had a quick lunch outside St Peters Basilica and then we went in and explored! I know I have been using the same words to describe everything but inside this place was unreal -- so gorgeous! I wanted to stay there all day.
After looking around St Peters and looking in the crypt we eventually made it outside to see the front and be in the square. This is where all the movie moments were going through my head. We had a great time going through all the movies that we knew that featured St Peters or Rome in some way. My three favs are Eurotrip (of course), Angels and Demons, and the Lizzie McGuire Movie.
Also a fun fact -- the Pope has his own mail! Apparently this mail is the best (and it should be -- its the Pope) Its way better than the Italian mail service, we were told that it takes 3 days to get a letter to Boston - pretty sweet I'd say. So I sent out three postcards :) They should arrive to their destinations soon!
To wrap up this bit of the trip I'll share that we also went and saw Castel St. Angelo, Piazza Navona, and the Pantheon. We didn't get to see inside the fortress or the Pantheon -- (next time!) but they were just as awesome from the outside. It was a great way to end our Italian adventure. Best Trip Ever!
What an amazing long weekend to Italy - Pisa. Florence. Rome. I couldn't have picked better people to share it with. So much fun and so many memories!
The Leaning Tower of Pisa -- pretty sweet tower. We literally flew into Pisa went straight to the tower and took some pictures. Then we hopped on a train to our next destination in Florence!
Next stop on the trip was Florence. Beautiful. We saw David - The real David in the Gallery - it was unreal - and he was carved out of one piece of marble - you go Michelangelo! We got 2 Euro Paninis that were delish and did some quality shopping in a market nearby. Casually visited the famous Ponte Vecchio Bridge and made our way back to train station and then to Rome.
Our hostel in Rome was an interesting one for sure, when we first saw it we were very unsure about it. But actually the hostel was very nice. The owner was super nice and our room was big and it was all to ourselves! The hostel was in a prime location as well just down the road from us was Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica and the Colosseum was only a 5 min walk from our place too!
Our First night in Rome was the best! One of my favorite memories!! We eventually found ourselves at the Trevi Fountain! So pretty - even at 11pm there were people everywhere just hanging out it was awesome. We got a coin out and tossed in to the fountain. We made our wish, kissed the coin did a full 360 spin and tossed the coin over our heads into the fountain. Then we grabbed a seat on the steps and just chilled for a while, soaking in the fact that we were in Rome and how lucky we were to be there, and in Europe in general on Exchange. Great food, wonderful company, and the Trevi Fountain -- what more could you ask for?
So I feel like I had a pretty British Holiday!
It's great to be back in The Hague, even though Barcelona was beautiful sometimes you just can't beat your home :) This week was school work extravaganza. We are all realizing that our term is coming to an end and there are some assignments that we have to do! So I thought for this update I'd share with you what I learned in one of my favorite classes.
I am taking a class called Media and Contemporary Society. It's a pretty broad name for a class so the professor told us that we would be focusing one medium - television in Europe. This quote was one of the first things presented to us on the first day of class, and it's pretty true.
"90% of our waking time is spent looking at glowing rectangles" - The Onion
In this class we covered these things
Deregulation of the television started in the late 1980's because there were advances in technology, a demand for choice in television - more than a couple channels, and businesses wanting to get into the European market and other reasons as well. News Corporation was one of the first companies to dive in the opportunity they launched Sky News in 1989. Since then there is a tons of new channels offered all over Europe. Now there is intense competition between television channels and networks. There are 4 trends in media ownership now - Concentration, Consolidation, Convergence, and Conglomeration. Media assets are being owned buy fewer people basically is the point of these trends. Also things that Europeans are dealing with in their television viewing are pan-European channels vs local channels, and the Americanization of television. It is much cheaper to import American television series in Europe, and there is a feel of feeling that US television has a global feel to it. I'm not quite sure if that's totally true but English very well known. Also American shows are taken and then used locally in their own languages too. There are many reasons as to why this is: production costs are higher in Europe, advertising revenue is not enough, there is a lack of alternate funding, news stations are not profitable, and the fragmentation of the European market. European Channels are trying to promote more time into local production because there is still a demand for it.
The future of European television is unclear. It is becoming more like American television where it is more entertainment based rather than informational like it was when just public service broadcasters ruled TV. I think in the mobile/internet age people are getting there news and information elsewhere. Social media is taking over in the recent years and I know that I get my news from there and online newspapers. As far as television many students at school here don't watch TV or even have a TV. I think the trend for people my age are going to get news/information and TV online. So that's what I got, in short -- I now I have to finish this term with an essay of what the future of European television and exam - should be a good time.
So 4 weeks into school and they give you a week off, bye bye Den Haag -- Barcelona here we come! This last week was amazing. I got to see a beautiful city and be with some great friends. So let me try to sum up this incredible trip.
We decided to leave Sunday afternoon/night instead of leaving Monday morning because we had to travel to Brussels which is 2 hours away from The Hague, and then the airport was another 45 min away from Brussels. So we figured a good night's sleep in Brussels would be better than trying to get up early in The Hague and try to do all the train and bus hopping. Erin, Anisa, and I ended up staying with the guys in Brussels in their hostel - our original plan was to sleep in the airport - so I think it was a good choice to stay with them.
7 am wake-up call and we all get out of bed to make our way to the bus that will take us to Charleroi Airport. I was super tired but I had some bread, and a couple stroopwaffles, Hobnobs to give me some energy for the day. Ryanair is an interesting airline, that's putting it nicely. The flight was nice I got to see the ocean and some mountains, slept a little and landed in Barcelona. The weather was amazing, 50's (10 Celsius).
Eventually we found our hostel and a jaunty walk through Barcelona. The hostel was pretty nice, we all fit into an 8-person room and we had a locker to lock up our stuff and everything seemed fairly clean. After we got settled we went out and wandered a bit and ate a restaurant near our place. I had this noodle meat dish that had some awesome cheese sauce in it. I wish I could remember the name but it was amazing! After that we went out and got some food supplies for the next day. 20 Euro for what would feed me for a week and a half. I loved it, unfortunately that was just for tomorrow's dinner.
Monday we had decided it would be a good idea to get a bus ticket from one of the tour companies in Barcelona. It was the best idea. And we got a two-day ticket so we could have "free" transportation to all of these places. It was a great buy.
One of the first things we did was go see the Sagrada Familla. This church is so beautiful. Let me give you some fun facts about it.
It was so pretty. There is so much detail in every part of the church. It looks like it could be finished from some view points of the church but when you see the full model of what it will look like when it's finished, it's crazy! There are so many towers that aren't even started. I have always wondered what it would be like being around something being built like this. You get to see all the stages of construction, it's pretty amazing.
After we took many pics of this beautiful church we ate a nearby McDonalds/ had some sandwiches from a local shop. We thought it was hilarious that we were eating McDonald's fries and sitting across the street from Sagrada Familia. Kind of American.
The next stop on our list/bus tour was Park Güell. This park was also designed by Gaudi. The park was named after his great patron Count Eusebi Güell, and originally the park was supposed to be a housing development. I'm so glad it's a park - this was the best part of the trip - it was so much fun. There was so much exploration and fun things around every corner.
We went to the big cross at the highest point overlooking the park and it was so pretty! I have never seen anything that breath taking before. You could see all of Barcelona, everywhere you looked, and there were mountains behind you, the ocean in the distance. Amazing!
The next stop, a royal palace to King Alfonso XIII, there were museums on either side of it and the gardens were pretty cool. After our adventure to the palace we hopped on the bus and went to Camp Nou - futbol stadium for FC Barcelona. They are one of the most successful futbol clubs in the world. It was an impressive stadium - the guys wanted to check out how much it was for the tour of the stadium. After that we eventually made it home to the hostel.
It was time for family dinner! We had decided in order to save money, we were going to cook meals for each other. So this night me, Erin and Jess, and Jesse decided we were going to make pasta (it's a classic dinner in our house in the Hague -- every night) so we had three good sized bags of spaghetti and chopped up some veggies and had some sauce and cheese. It was delicious.
Another great day in Barcelona! We had a few stops on our list that we wanted to see - the first was Placa d'Espanya. This square was massive -- this was the setting for the 1992 Olympic Games. We couldn't go straight up the hill through the courtyard up to MNAC (Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya) because there was a huge convention going on. So we had to hike around the side of the hill and make our way to the top. The museum had over 1000 yrs of Catalunya art inside.
There have been moments since being on this trip I have stopped and thought about where I am. I was looking over Barcelona and I thought - what would I be doing in Green Bay right now? Well one it's Wednesday so I'd probably have class, two it would be super cold and there would be so much snow on the ground, three I would be super stressed about school and finding an internship. BUT I am here in Barcelona - having the time of my life and I'm with great people and I was just so appreciative of everything at that moment - the feeling is hard to explain but you get the gist.
The next stop was the Olympic Stadiums! The 1992 Summer Olympic Games were held here! It was pretty fun to see all the different facilities that were on the top of the mountain. We saw inside of the track and field stadium and the courtyard to all these buildings was sweet. Also the large telecommunication tower was an impressive site to see.
Our next destination was supposed to be the beach. So we hop on a gondola that should take us to the beach. False - it took us to a fort instead. Best mistake :) This fort was pretty cool -- it's called Castell de Montjic. There were cannons on the outside, an old moat that now has flowers in it, people doing archery. It was sweet.
After our exploration of the castle we hiked down the mountain and went to eat, on the Beach! Erin and I went to a waffle place and had a delicious waffle with ice cream on it and then we made our way to the beach. It was amazing. The sun was shining, the sand was pretty warm on your feet, all you could ask for besides it being warmer to actually wear a swimsuit and swim. I had a great time at the beach.
The next stop for me was the aquarium! It was supposed to be a pretty good one with all kinds of fish and sea creatures. I was loving all the fish that were in Finding Nemo -- I kept saying "Where is Dory?" and "Look I found Gill!" Caroline, Erin and I loved the penguins that were at the end of the aquarium. They weren't swimming but we just loved watching them. I think one of them was either collecting rocks or food for his little hole. So we watched him for a good 10 min going back and forth. We tried to encourage them to swim - it wasn't happening though.
This day was a rough one for me - my body was telling me that I needed to sleep more, my knees were like "remember that time when you didn't walk so much." But I got up and went to the museum anyway! It took us through the beginning of time with organisms and stuff and then it came to this interactive part where there were things dealing with physics, dinosaurs and the beginning of man and fish too. It was sweet.
The rest of the day was pretty chill, not much sightseeing but more or less shopping and hanging out. Jess and I went off on La Ramblas and looked in a few shops and had lunch. Then we went to the food market - it was huge! I felt like the guys on the Travel channel going through it. We both had fruit juice that was 100% fruit. I was so good, I had strawberry and Jess had mango. They had all kinds of fruits, veggies, fish, meat, spices, chocolates. It was great - If I had that back home, there would almost be no need to go to a grocery store again!
It was time for us to end this holiday in Barcelona and go home. We had a nice morning in the mall near our hostel with the guys, went and did a tour of the FC Barcelona stadium. We left for the airport around noon checked in and all the traveling went pretty smoothly - got on all the right trains buses, taxis and eventually we made back home to The Hague. It was such a great trip! I loved the people that came with, they made the experience 10 times better! I love Barcelona!
So we made our way through the city and found the Anne Frank Museum and there was a pretty big line. It was a 45 min wait but it so worth it. They have the whole corner of this block for the museum and actual annex where Anne Frank was hiding in was part of the museum. It was one the best museums I have been to. It was interactive and everything was presented so well to you. It was a pretty emotional experience as well - with that subject matter how could it not be. Two things that stuck out to me was the video of Otto Frank - he said that he kept Anne's Diary and didn't read it for a good amount of time after she passed away and when he did read it, there were things in there that he never knew about Anne. He said that as a parent maybe he didn't know Anne as well as he thought, maybe parents really don't know their children. The other thing that stuck out was seeing all of the things that Anne had written, all the short stories. It was an incredible experience.
I have been here almost a month now, and you know when you are far from home there are certain things you start to miss. Whether it's family, friends, or your favorite restaurant or coffee shop. I have been thinking of the things I miss and there are a few things in this list you wouldn't think I would miss -- but don't worry I will explain.
1) Bubblers -- or for those who don't know what that is -- drinking fountains. These don't exist here, and it's a shame! Sometimes, I just want a sip of water and I would not like to have to pay for it. I find myself going to the restroom and stealing the water out of the tap in there. My roommates and I have done this on multiple occasions now -- in restaurants, clubs, cafes - pretty much everywhere.
2) My Blackberry -- I miss this a lot. Though it's probably a good thing that I am not so connected to everything as I was back at home - BUT I loved it. I don't use my Twitter account much anymore and I'm on Facebook on my laptop all the time to stay connected, because I cannot do it on my phone. Yes, it's such a rough life for me, geeze I can't use my fancy smart phone. I will get over that one sometime -- maybe.
3) An Oven -- In my apartment we do not have an oven. All there is a stove top. You don't know how bad I would like to make a frozen pizza! I practically lived off of them in Green Bay. My roommate, Jess, loves to bake and I would love to have an oven so she can cook us delicious things like cupcakes! I can make some other dishes of my limited cooking knowledge base. The only good thing from not having an oven is that I am not going for the frozen processed foods now and I believe that I am eating healthier because of it. So that's a bonus.
4) Taco Bell -- I never thought I would miss this. It's so bad for you but it's so good. Sure they have plenty of fast food restaurants in Den Haag but you really can't beat Taco Bell -- they "Think Outside the Bun!" You can't beat the cheapness of Tbell either, 99 cents and you are golden with lunch/snack.
5) Accounting -- Another thing that I thought I would never miss. All my classes at The Hague University are marketing classes. It works with my other major, but I miss the challenge and demand of accounting. Marketing is really not my thing I am coming to find. I guess that's good in the grand scheme of things.
Above all I miss my family and friends back in Green Bay/Kaukauna! I talk to them a lot on Facebook and have skype dates during the week so that's good. I haven't had any homesickness yet, but that doesn't mean I don't miss the people I love back at home. Love you guys -- miss you lots!
Well the day has come where the Erasmus students have to go to school, it's a shame really I was fine just hanging out. But alas, we must do what we came here to do which is study. Yesterday was the first day of class and my Mondays are a barrel of fun! I have 5 classes - from 10:30am -4:15pm. It sounds like a lot but it's not that bad, because some of the classes are only 45 minutes. I only have two that are 90 minute classes.
There were two things that were the highlights of my day yesterday. The first was in my Dutch as a 2nd Language class. The professor just jumps right into this dialogue and has us listen to it first. I'm thinking, ok he is just showing us what Dutch sounds like and giving us a feel of what is to come in the next lesson. Oh, how wrong I was. The next thing he does is calls my name and says "you play the part of the teacher" and then he picks two other people to be the students in the dialogue. Great, I had to read basically an entire page in Dutch. Let me tell you it was rough, but I made it through. I survived!
The other highlight was in the last class of the day, Multicultural Consumer Behavior. I have a pretty cool professor in the class and he's telling us about how we, as consumers, go and purchase things and why we do it. So he's giving us an example of impulse buying, and he says that there is a display for Magnum, and you see that it's a pretty good deal -- mind you I'm not sure what he's talking about at this time, but it's a chocolate ice cream bar -- and a girl from the class says "Magnum like the car? (Clearly from the US). Lesson for the day -- If you don't know what a product is don't just assume it's a product from the US, the US doesn't have everything. But all in all it was hilarious -- a good way to wrap up the first day of school.
Tuesdays are heaven -- No class!! Woot woot! Only have class on Monday, Wednesday, and one on Thursday. I can get used to this! Het leven is goed!
The first couple days of being in The Hague have been really exciting. I'm learning so much and I'm not even in class yet. Who knew that could happen? All the exchange students that I have met so far have been so nice and welcoming. The university is pretty cool, it's in a huge circle/oval building.
My apartment is great, and it has a really hard pronunciation for the street name. It's close to the school and the train station, only a 5min walk - we make everyone jealous. The best part though is that we live by a Turkish Bakery. Oh man, they have the best stuff there. I definitely cannot pronounce the food's names but is it good! I can see lots of my Euros going there.
My flat is three floors and its really cozy inside. It definitely has a homey feeling to it, so it will be easy settling in. I have a split room. Normally the rooms are larger in size and you get a bed, desk, bookshelf, a wardrobe, a small table, a sink and few other things, all in one room. My room differs from these rooms because I have two separate rooms, one on the third floor (my bedroom) and one on the second floor (my study room). I really like it; I have two private places in the apartment. I can't study in my bedroom usually back in the US, so if I have a separate space to work in in the apartment I can study more successfully. So it's perfect. My bedroom is small and cozy -- also like that a lot (then I can clutter it up with stuff!) I have 5 other roommates - four girls and one guy. And we are from all over: you have me from the US, Erin is from Canada, Jess is from England, Zuzka is from Slovakia, June is from South Korea, and Elliot is from Australia. I am so lucky to live in this flat - everyone has hit it off really well. We are already talking about group meals and going out together. Love it.
I was glad to have some cool roomies to hang out with during the Introduction/Info sessions this week. It was a lot of stuff thrown at your face. In short it went like this:
So that was four days of nonstop info. It was a good time and I got to meet other exchange students. Our main questions to each other were: What's your name? Where are you from? What's the weather like where you're from? and What do you study at home? I have met people from all over, people from the States, England, Greece, Turkey, Russia, France, Germany, Spain, Estonia. It's a nice mixture of people, and we fit right in with the city -- the international city of The Netherlands.
After Two long days of travel, I have made it to The Hague. And it's AWESOME! Here's the tale of how I got here:
First my parents drove me down to Chicago O'hare to see me off. We got to the Terminal around 1:20. And I was freaking out. All that running through my head is "Did you really sign up for this? -- Why are you doing this?" and of course I'm thinking of all the terrible things that could go wrong at the airport and during travel. Though after I got my boarding pass I seemed less nervous. Then soon came the time to say goodbye to my parents and go through security. My mom was crying a little and all worried -- as moms should :) -- but she was making me cry and my dad's taking pictures of me at the airport. We had lots of hugs and then I figured I better go now while the line was short through security, and off I went. The journey has begun.
It's one week before my adventure to The Hague, Netherlands! Kind of exciting. As I am getting ready for the semester and trying to fit my life into a suitcase, I realized that I have been packing literally since December 27. I haven't been packing intensely every day, but the process has been building up slowly since then. Clearly I am nervous and a first timer. For the last week or so I have laid out all of the stuff I plan on bringing and thinking how all of it is going to be put into my suitcase. But now I think I have the perfect packing technique. Wow - I'm real cool.
Anyways, I'm super pumped for the trip. I have wanted to study abroad since I was 14. I came across the idea in a Seventeen magazine. They had an article for spending a couple weeks in Europe. Along with the article, there was a map with different travel routes that could be taken while you were in Europe. The routes were The Sightseer, The Romantic, and The Maverick. I still have the map today:
At that time I really liked the column The Sightseer, with the typical places to hit up in Europe: Paris, London, Rome. But now that I have learned more about Europe I would love to see all the cities on all of the routes. I'm not sure I will get to see a quarter of the cities on there this time around but just a few would be great! I know for sure I will see London and of course Amsterdam (it's only a 55 min train ride from The Hague) and after that I'm not too sure where else. Where ever the wind takes me, I guess J.
There are moments that I can't believe that this is happening -- just a couple months ago I was a Division I athlete playing volleyball at UW-Green Bay in my senior year. Now I'm jetting off to Europe for a semester, being a normal student, and fulfilling my childhood dream. Big changes and everything! I am so grateful for all the opportunities that have been shown to me by attending UW-Green Bay. There are so many and the people there are great, too. Definitely the right choice going to that University!
During the semester, I will be participating in an exchange through UW-Green Bay and The Hague University of Applied Sciences. My hope is to take some marketing/communication classes and some classes in general learning more about the Dutch and Europe. We don't pick our class schedule until a week before classes start - kinda nerve-racking. Definitely not what I'm used to at GB, but what can you do. It'll just be a small adventure on that day when I sign up. I'm also really excited to see my apartment and meet my apartment-mates. Overall, I just can't wait to get over there! to see the actual things that she wrote in.