Tuesday, March 30, 2010

And all that jazz..

I finally got around to downloading all the photos from the time that my mom was here, plus the photos that my host parents took. And today my mom sent a few of her photos to me so I put a bunch of them on my facebook and flickr website, so you can see them there. Hopefully I'll get around to putting the rest up soon!
In other news, Tomorrow night my cousin Caienna and her friend Valentin are coming to stay for seven days!!!!!! SOOO EXCITING! Unfortunately the nice, warm and sunny weather we were having last week didn't stick around so Caienna and Valentin will just have to put up with these silly grey clouds. Helaas pindakaas. But will we let a silly thing such as the weather spoil out fun? NO! Its going to be a great week :)
Further on down the road (next weekend) my lovely Alaskan friend Maya and I will spend two lovely evenings in Rotterdam for the Motel Mozaïque music festival! The lineup includes Mumford and Sons, Band of Horses, Johnny Flynn, Crystal Antlers and Noah and the Whale among plenty of other potentially awesome bands. WOOO!
All in all its going to be a fairly busy and completely awesome next couple of days. I can't wait!

Monday, March 22, 2010

7 months and still loving it.

Hello hello hello! OK. First exciting thing on the menu, 7 MONTH ANNIVERSARY (yesterday, who gives) JEEEEEZ. Ok now we can move on. Boy have I had a busy past couple of weeks. The most exciting thing being that my mom and Jason came to visit! They arrived on a Friday night and stayed at my house until Wednesday. Let me tell you it was so incredibly good to see them. Though strangely enough I was nervous and even a little anxious to see them before they arrived. The thought that I would be seeing them for the first time in six months was really strange, and even stranger that they were going to be here in the Netherlands. It feels to me like I have two separate lives, the one in America, and the one here! But the second I saw them on the train platform I realized I was being silly and all those thoughts vanished instantly. It was a little weird at first seeing my host parents and my real parents in the same room talking to each other… But I’m just so glad they came, it was such a great week!
I think it’s safe to say we managed to fit about everything we possibly could into our tight four and a half day schedule. We went to Amsterdam, Den Haag, Scheveningen, Gouda, Delft, Utrecht, and of course I showed them around Alphen a little bit as well. We went to many museums (Mauritshuis, Prinsenhof, Van Gogh, Escher, and Madurodam!), shopped like crazy, ate good food, and spent a lot of time just exploring and taking photos. A couple nights before they left, my mom and Jason took my host parents and I out to dinner for a ‘happy birthday/thanks for having us’ (my birthday was the day after they left) combo celebration. We went to a Greek restaurant in town where my best friend Nienke works! Unfortunately she wasn’t working that night, but we still had a great time. I was actually really sad to see them go, but luckily I had too many things going on to let my mind dwell on it and it went away.

The next day was my seventeenth birthday! I woke up that morning (7.30am to be precise..!) to hear Peter and José bearing gifts and singing “Lang zal zij leven, lang zal zij leven, LANG ZAL ZIJ LEVEN IN DE GLORIA. In de gloria! In de gloooorrriiiiiaaaaaaaaa! Hieperdepiep HOERA!” This, to those of you who don’t know, is the Dutch happy birthday song. If you literally translate it is says something like Long shall she live in the Gloria….hip hip hooray! Haha. Very very sweet. Part of my birthday present was that I was allowed to skip school that day… so I went back to sleep! Honestly I spent most of the day doing homework because I had skipped the whole week and had a lot of things due the next day.. but later I spent the afternoon with a friend of mine, and the next day I had friends and family over for coffee and cake!
That weekend I went to Eindhoven with Crystal and we stayed the night at Patrick’s house. We spent most of the time just hanging out, watching movies and making tacos, American style. A low-key weekend for the most part but just what I needed!
This past week at school was long and pretty dull. My best friend, Nienke, was sick until Friday so I was just kind of wandering around between different groups of people… The only exciting thing was that on Friday I did a group presentation ENTIRELY IN DUTCH! I was reeeeally ridiculously nervous, but it actually went pretty smoothly and we got an 8.7 out of 10 (In contrast to the American grading system… this is like getting an A) which was the highest score in our class!

For the past month and a half or so I've been doing an art internship with a couple girls form my art class at school! The internship is with a local artist named Edith Snoek ! for most of our classes we focused on portraits with paint and charcoal. At the end of our internship, two of our best works (each) were put into a local gallery and Wednesday was the exhibition opening!! These are the two I chose to put in the gallery!
Saturday I went to the center with Nienke and we went shopping and got a cup of tea. Then Crystal came to my house Saturday afternoon and that night we went out with our friend Felix and had a 'gezellig' time! Ahhhh love them.
Anyways, now I’m finally home from a boring day at school, and this concludes my past two week summary!
Until next time, tot straks!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Time keeps on slipping, slipping..

I'm aware that I've been here for over half the year but It only really hit me today. With a mere four months of my exchange year left, I literally cannot believe how the fast time has gone.
Just a short while ago a new group of exchange students from the southern hemisphere (e.g. Argentina, New Zealand, etc. And because the seasons are opposite, their school year is at a different time, therefore they came at a different time) came to the Netherlands. Today I was lucky enough to help out at their primary orientation camp with three of my exchange buddies; Lauren (USA), Patrick (USA), and Walker (CAN). The new students asked all these questions that I remember asking; about the best way to make friends, how they should act with their host families, etc. But this time I was the experienced one who told them how I dealt with things and gave them advice. Talking to them gave me such a big flashback to my first few weeks in the Netherlands when everything was so new and scary. Right now I'm in a place where I can almost believe that this is my new life, and that I'm not going to ever leave it. I have a great host family and good friends, I am so comfortable with the language that I rarely speak English anymore, and going places by train or bike is completely normal. It's going to be very hard going back home. This day was a wake up call to say the least, but it was good for me. Though I really don't want to, I have to accept that all good things come to an end and I have to do the best that I can to make the most of these last few months.

The foto is from my own orientation camp back in September!

I guess I'll end this post with a few things I'm really excited about in the future:
- My mom and her boyfriend coming to visit. NEXT WEEK!!!!!
- My birthday! Woot woot! 17!
- Getting to know the new exchange students better!
- My cousin and her friend (who both happen to be on exchange in Sweden at the moment..) coming to Holland!
- Attending many concerts with my lovely Alaskan friend Maya!
- The AFS group trip to Antwerp!
- Koninginnedag (Queen's Day - yet another crazy Dutch holiday)!
- Going to the south of France in May with my host family!
- My fantastical friend from back home, Sophie coming to visit!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


This past weekend was Carnival in the Netherlands! I went to a city called Breda, where one of the largest Carnival celebrations is held. Carnival is this huge festival celebrated widley throughout Europe, and basically (or at least in my opinion) its kind of like a combination of Mardi Gras, Halloween, and a circus convention! Everyone dresses up in costume and in most cities there is a huge parade with massive hand-made paper maché floats and constant loud oom-pa-pa dutch music. Streamers, glitter and confetti litter the streets, and there's beer everywhere you look; spilled on the ground, in large cases being pulled around, in the hand of every other person. All in all, it was quite the party.

Here are a few videos from the parade, just to give you a better sense of it all. You may want to turn down the volume a little bit because it is very very loud!

More photos here.
Hope you all had a great Valentines weekend!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I was in the news!

I was in the newspaper! Here's a photo of the article, and if you feel so inclined to attempt to read the actual thing (bear in mind..it's dutch!) then click on the photo and it will take you to a bigger, more readable version. Last week a journalist from my town's local newspaper called up to ask if I would be interested in an interview. I know most of you are wondering what it says, so just for you guys I'm going to try and translate it for you.

"I feel right at home"

Host family loves Caitlin and vise versa.

Oregon and Alphen. A world of differences for exchange student Caitlin Stacy. Already studying at Ashram College she explores the Netherlands.
Caitlin (16) is now 5 months in the Netherlands and is greatly enjoying herself. "We think it's really great!"
The American sits on her bed in her host family's house on Marketenster and feels visibly at home.
"I've only been here a few months, but I feel right at home. José and Pater take very good care of me. I'm so happy to be here. It is the chance of a lifetime", she tells me in excellent Dutch. Of course the language was a big problem in the beginning. "I understood absolutely nothing for the first few days. That was very difficult, but you start picking up words pretty quickly. Now I try to speak as much Dutch as possible."
Whats so striking to her is how small the Netherlands actually is. "You can hop on a train and in just a short amount of time you can be seeing things on the other side of the country. It's great! I've even made a list with places that I still want to see before I go. It is really my intentions to make the most out of my time here", says Caitlin.
Caitlin has been affected very little from homesickness. "I expected to be extremely sad. Especially since I was warned, but its not as bad as they told me it would be." That is mainly because of her host parents, she says as she looks to her door that is covered in photos and souvenirs. "Look! I even got to dress up as a Swarte Piet three times. That was so fun! Sinterklaas was great. I felt right at home for those two weeks."
Caitlin is happy with her adopted family and so are José and Peter with Caitlin. "It is always waiting to see what will happen", says José. "Our friends all say to us that we have again picked the prize!" José and Peter earlier had another American girl, Lauren. They had a wonderful experience with her and they still keep in contact. That is why they decided to try again with Caitlin. "We are were involved by chance", says Peter. "We knew someone from the softball association was still looking for host parents for a girl from America. He couldn't find anyone. When he thought he had a loss, I spoke with José who immediately said: 'Why don't we do it?' We couldn't think of an argument."
Through this experience they have noticed that many other host parents have really high expectations. "Nowadays teenagers will like to have some time to relax in their rooms. You can not expect them to do what you want. Caitlin happens to enjoy doing and seeing almost everything, but others may not be so enthusiastic. And if you put pressure on them, sometimes things can go wrong. As a host parent, you must learn to be flexible", José tells me. She thinks that they have been very lucky to have Caitlin. "She's just lovely", beams José. Saying goodbye to Peter and José is something that Caitlin does not want to think about. "I don't want to go home yet. This is my new home", says Caitlin.
José is almost in tears as the subject is discussed. "That will come with sadness and tears. We'll need some time to adjust when she goes home."

Monday, December 7, 2009


OK, so I just realized something very shocking, and that is the fact that I have not yet made a post over my trip to Berlin!
The trip as a whole was amazing and wonderful and I want to do it again. It was organized by AFS and there were about 70 exhcange students and 7 or 8 volunteers to accompany us. There's something so amazing about each and every one of those people and it's like because we are all sharing this amazing experience we have such a close bond with eachother even though we've only known eachother for a couple months. I had so much fun. It was a five day trip, but with the bus ride there and back (somewhere around 16 hours of driving in total..)we only spent 3 days in the actual city. We stayed in a hostel called The Generator which had free breakfast, a bar, and lots of trippy neon lights. Everyone was put into rooms of 6 people. In my room was Lauren (USA), Patrick (USA), Franceso (Italy), Hayden (Australia), and Walker (Canada). We had the most awesome group and I definately laughed more than I have in a long time.
Berlin in particular did have many very beautiful sights to see and of course it is full of art and history which I absolutely loved, but overall it just seemed kind of... big and grey. At times even depressing because of all the unfortunate history that happened there. I'm sure the fact that it was freezing and cloudy/rainy didn't help lighten the mood.
Highlights of what we saw: Berlin Wall, Holocaust Memorial, Berlin Dom, TV Tower, Parlaiment Building, Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag Dome, Gedenkstätte Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, and the Schlosspark Charlottenburg Palace.
I think there is much more to be seen in Berlin and I would love to go back again someday by myself or with an extreamly smaller group of people and see the beauty that was hidden -but i know it exhists- during my recent stay.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


So last weekend I went to the beach in Scheveningen with my host parents. We were very lucky because the weather was beautiful!
We walked along the water and then down the pier. At the end of the pier there is a place for ice skating AND bungee jumping! I've always wanted to try bungee jumping (don't worry mom, I resisted the temptation, ahah) but unfortunately it is against AFS regulations to do anything of the kind due to insurance etc.
All in all Scheveningen is a lovely place with plenty of shops and cafes for all the tourists!

See more photos here!