Today is Wednesday, Febuary 3, 2010. I have been the Netherlands now since January 23, 2010. My initial thoughts of the country itself are mostly positive in nature. Though different in many ways, I have developed a respect for the country and the dutch people. The people are encouraging in many ways. Almost everyone rides a bike at some point or another in their day. There are plenty of cars here and public transportation exists on a much larger scale than in the US, but still, rain, sleet or snow they can be found outside. The weather here is similar in temperature to that of Kentucky, however, the wind makes it seem so much colder. Either way, the Dutch would never tell you that it is too cold to walk somewhere even across town.
My first week here I was with my parents. I was thankful that they were willing and able to come with me. Along with Marlies’s parents, my parents and I used the first week here to set up a dutch bank account, move into my “flat” or apartment, find the closest grocery, and buy a bike. A bike is a must when you come here. You can buy a second hand bike here, but it isn’t as cheap as everyone led me to believe. It is true that you can find bikes for 40 or 50 Euros, but they are not in good working order. A good used bike starts at around 100 Euro. Every US dollar is only worth approximatly 60 Euro cents, and everything is more expensive, so it is hard to estimate before you’re actually here how much money you are actually going to need. A few hundred dollars won’t get you very far especially in the first few weeks during the adjustment period.
Almost everyone speaks english well enough to carry a conversation, and even the international students from around the world are multilingual. As Americans, Robert and I only know English unfortunatly. I am jealous that our educational system does not force a second language to be taught from a young age. Some people here know 4 or 5 languages and can go from one to the other like it is nothing. They are jealous of how well we speak english though. I really hope I can pick up some dutch while I’m here, but everyone always wants to talk in English to practice.
The classes are not difficult yet, but I would imagine they will pick up in intensity soon. The style of learning here is very different than I am used to. We work in goups with other international students completing 2 tasks a week. The tasks are real life issues that companies deal with in regards to becoming international. My small group consists of about 6 people, 1 from France, 1 from China, 3 Hungarians, then myself. This week our first task was to determine the core strengths of a fashion shoe manufacturer to determine their areas of competitive advantage. The shoe manufacturer is considering working with a vietnamese partner and the board is going back and forth over the decision. So basically as a group we will determine the areas of competitive advantage that keep the manufacturer profitable and decide wether or not any of those areas will become jeapordized by a strategic move towards outsourcing their production.
I’ll Try to leave at least one blog per week, and I will also leave pictures when I can.
I had planned on leaving pictures with this blog, but their file size is too large, I have to figure out how to keep their file size below 1500kb, any suggestions to convert my current photos to a smaller size?