So I am writing this on Saturday, although I won’t get internet until Monday (because I had some trouble with my anti virus software), so now I have to wait until Hubert, the groundskeeper, who I will get to in a minute, comes back to the castle to get me online. Not that I am complaining…. because I am currently living in a tower, in a castle, in The Netherlands. WHAT?
I guess I should start off talking about the journey over here and the things that have gone on in the first 30 or so hours since arriving in Well.
The epic day started at 9 am on the 22nd at Emerson, where we had an orientation with the head of external programs, who I am lead to believe doesn’t really know much about the program. Don’t get me wrong, he is a good resource, but he didn’t even begin to skim the surface of what it was going to be like once we got here, granted how could you? After this info session/orientation, it was a whirlwind of saying my last goodbyes in Boston. My parents, a group of Kappas (and Kelly), and myself all went to CPK for lunch, and then it was time to load the busses. Saying goodbye to everyone was tough because it really hit me that life was going to move on in Boston and I wouldn’t be there. I know that sounds narcissistic, but I mean that everyone will be making fun memories at school that I won’t be able to share. That feeling died down pretty soon after the busses pulled out of school though because I realized that I was on my way to make my own memories in Europe.
The airport was pretty painless. It took everyone a little bit to get checked in, but once we all got through to the gate we had about an hour and a half until boarding the plane. Katie Jo, Stella and I bought pretty ghetto watches at Hudson news. We all forgot to pack ours, and we realized that it was pretty essential, followed but a stomach churning meal at the food court and then it we were off to Amsterdam.
A little under six hours later we arrived in Amsterdam. We all made it in one piece, although one girl on our trip left her passport in the seat pocket of the airplane and had to run back to get it. It was pouring rain when we got there, which made it interested loading on to the buses, but tired and soaked we boarded the two coaches (very similar to those buses we would fill on Price-Bralow-Friedburg trips) and drove to Well. It was about a two and a half (ish… I think) hour drive, and most of us slept for about an hour of it. It was surreal falling asleep looking at the rainy skies and construction that was happening right outside Amsterdam, and waking up (although still drizzling) to sheep and windmills. Wow. We all started to get pretty jazzed when we saw signs for Nijmegen, Venray and Venlo, the places that we have heard about from past castle dwellers as the towns near by Well, and then finally we started to see signs for Well. Everyone on the bus started to squeal, as we drove through the main street of Well. No one was standing in the street waving at us (like David Griffin said) but that was fine because all the sudden we were parked outside the outer moat of Kasteel Well.
The castle is amazing. I cannot even begin to describe all of it. I know a good handful of people who have been to the castle already, and none of their pictures or descriptions came close to truly capturing the feeling of this place. (Although, Caitlin, you did a pretty good job breaking it down for me ☺) We all helped unload everyone’s luggage off the busses and we stored it in the parking lot and headed into the Barbetta room (which is kind of like a big lecturish hall) for a Welcome from Dulcia. Dulcia is the director of the castle program and I have only heard AMAZING things about her. From the little bit that I have met of her, I can see why. She is so friendly and excited about us being here. I cannot wait to talk to her more and have her as a teacher. After the welcome we headed down to lunch, and on our way down we saw a list with all of our room assignments on it. Clearly, being nosey, I peaked at it and saw next to me and my other two roommates names TW2. I knew that MC stood for Main Castle, VB stood for Voorburcht (which is this U shaped building that surrounds the castle…. Which is the building that I live in), NW which stood for New Wing (also in the VB) so Cherylynn, one of my roommates, and I deduced that we were living in the tower. AMAZING. After lunch they showed us to our rooms, Rachel (yes I live with the only other Rach(a)el on this trip), Cherylynn and I got to our room, and it was this tiny green door in the wall with our names on it (I’m posting pictures on picasa, so you can really get a feel for it) and when you open it, and by it, I mean the huge cast-iron latch that is the doorknob, there is a set of steep, narrow wooden stairs (also there are pictures). At the top of the stairs is another door, and through that door is our amazing, wonderful, awesome, beautiful room. It’s a circle (duh, we’re living in a castle tower) with five windows with three of them have window seats, accents of grey and red and an extra dresser because the room is sometimes used as a quad. (look a the pictures, I’m not doing this room justice) When the three of us walked in, we dropped all of our stuff and started to jump around from excitement. Literally jump.
Since then they have been keeping us pretty busy with orientation stuff. We were done with the programming last night after dinner, so we all (well most of us) decided to check out the Linden, which is one of two bars here in Well, and the one that is frequented most by Emerson students. Jack, the owner was very excited to see that the Emerson kids were back in town, and after giving us a short intro and talk about American Night at the bar (which we are all pretty excited about) we all sat around and enjoyed a pretty tame night of trying Dutch beers and getting to know each other.
I’m sure that’s all you can handle for now, this is getting to be pretty lengthy, but I will keep this updated to the best of my abilities.
And in case anyone was wondering: for now my travel weekends look like this:
1) Jan 30th- Feb 1st: Amsterdam (school excursion)
2) Feb 6th-8th: Gyron, Switzerland
3) Feb 13th-15th Paris, France (on Valentines day… I know)
4) Feb 21st-22nd staying in Well for Carnival
Also on the list is the UK for our extended travel break—Stella and I are meeting up with our friends Ryan and Laura in London for a few days, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Barcelona, Greek Islands (Easter weekend), Bruges and Brussels and of course Prague on our other school excursion.
Hope you all are doing well! I miss everyone a lot. If the mood so strikes you feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) I would LOVE to hear from all of you and will do my best to respond.