Posted by Meghan Callender on Feb 22, 2018
Hallo Tumwater Rotary! 
Hoe is het met jullie? How are all of you? 
This coming Saturday will be my sixth month here in The Netherlands. Six months! I absolutely cannot believe it! The way time passes while on exchange is mesmerizing, sometimes it feels like going home is life times away, but mostly I’m freaking out about how little time I seem to have left with this amazing new life I’ve created. I’m so grateful for everybody I have met here and thinking about having to ever leave them brings tears to my eyes. 
But what have I been up to? 
For now, things have calmed down a little bit. School, friends, visiting with other exchanges, and spending time with my host families. The Netherlands is still well within its winter season, and the canals are freezing over, and so am I on my bike rides to school. Luckily biking with my friends makes it a bit more bearable. I usually spend Saturday nights with my friends, attending birthday parties or going out dancing, then sleeping in until 1pm and making them American pancakes for breakfast the next morning (they love them). I also spend some weekends at the houses of other exchange students near me, cooking our different foods for their families and comparing fun exchange stories. We always like to talk about making trip to meet in the middle of our various countries when we go back home. I haven’t had an big rotary exchange student events lately, but coming up we will visit Giethoorn (the Venice of the north), a village in the north of the Netherlands with no roads, only canals. We will also go on a wadloop weekend, which is a chance to walk on the bottom of the sea during a low tide. I’m excited for both, but I’ve heard the wadloop can be quite muddy (and smelly). As for host families, I switched from my second family to my third family at the beginning of February. Sadly, I started having an allergic reaction to something in the house, and after two weeks of living there, had to move out.  Luckily, my first host family was more than glad to take me back again. So now I am moved back into my first room, having so much fun again with this family. I really did miss them, so I’m grateful to get to spend more time with them. It is even better now that I have a better understanding of myself, the culture, and the language. They are such a kind and loving family and I know I will miss them so much when I have to leave again. 
Last Saturday, I took part in an open day at one of the popular universities in the city of Groningen, Hanze University of Applied Sciences. I signed up to visit as an international student, and attended a meeting in one of their lecture halls about the International Communications bachelor program. I got a tour of the campus, and got to meet a several students from all over the world attending the school. I learned a lot about the school, and I’ve signed up to do a tag along day, and attend one of the lectures for International Communications. I’ve discovered that I would really love to come back here for university, and I’ve been working to find out everything I need to know to make that happen. Luckily, my amazing parents are also being very supportive towards this decision, helping me ask the right questions and figure out what I need to do when I get back to the US so I can come back here once again. 
Everything is going swell. I’ll admit, exchange is not as easy as I thought it to be, it can definitely be extremely difficult sometimes, and has really showed me some low moments, but nothing that could ever make me regret the decision to come here. I’ve never experienced happiness like I have while in this country. The friends I’ve made here are for life (did I mention two of them are already coming to visit me in the US when I get back?) and I love them so much. They’ve let me be my true self, and show me amazingly fun times every time we are together. I cannot through words express my love and gratefulness for them, but they have truly made my exchange. 
I guess that’s all for now! I’ll be sure to keep updating you as things get more busy in these next few months through the second half of my exchange! I hope everything is going well in Tumwater! 
Meghan Callender