Posted by Meghan Callender on Aug 20, 2017
Hello Tumwater Rotary!
I'm Meghan Callender, the club's outbound exchange student to The Netherlands for the 2017/2018 school year. You may remember my presentation I gave to the club a few weeks ago on The Netherlands. Well, it is now Sunday, August 20th, and I am three days away from my departure to The Netherlands. My flight leaves the SeaTac airport this Wednesday at 4:30 pm, where after a seven hour flight, I will arrive at the Keflavik airport in Iceland, and then after a 55 minute layover, I will get on my last flight for three hours, which will take me to the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, 12:40 pm, Netherlands time.
While I'm in The Netherlands this year, I'll be using the club website to post stories and updates for all of you on what life is like for me there, what I'm learning, and all the fun I'm having. Since I'm not there yet, I thought I would remind you of all things Dutch culture, and let any of you who missed my presentation catch up.
The Netherlands is home to the some of the tallest people in the world, with the average Dutch man standing at a whopping six feet. The country was the first to legalize gay marriage in 2003, and in 2018, a city in The Netherlands will be honored as the European Capital of Culture. The Netherlands is equivalent to one third of Washington State, but still has the highest population density in Europe, with 394 people per kilometer. They are well known for their windmills, canals, and flowers, and their language is Dutch. Some popular foods include cheese, herring, stroopwaffles (two thin crisp waffles stuck together with sticky sweet syrup), stamppot (potatoes and vegetables boiled and mashed together, usually served with sausage), and drop (salty black licorice). 
During my stay, I will be living just outside of the city of Groningen, going to school at Dollard College, as a year 5 student. I will stay with 4 different families, 3 of which I have already been in contact with. My first family owns a woman's clothing shop in Nieuwa Pekela, a small village in the north east of The Netherlands. While living with this family, I will ride my bike eight miles to school, and eight miles home. My Rotary district is 1590, and my host club is Rotary Club Pekela. 
I am so excited to begin my journey. I have begun to finalize my packing and have said goodbye to all of my friends. I have researched the country, and taken time to study the Dutch language in preparation. It seems like only a short time ago I was counting down the months, and now here I am, only days away from an experience I have spent the past year thinking and dreaming about. Of course, I would be no where without the help and generosity of the Tumwater Rotary. I will be forever grateful for this opportunity, and cannot thank everyone in the club enough. I can't wait to get started, and I'm even more excited to let all of you back in Washington know how it goes. 
Dankjewel Rotary!