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!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Hello my lovely friends!
I thought I'd share a few pictures from a couple weeks ago when I went to Gouda, a very traditional city famous for it's stroopwafels, candles, and you guessed it, Gouda cheese!
First stop, the cheese factory!

Inside was a lovely and very typical dutch stained glass window.

Peter and Jose! Love them!

This is a type of cuckoo clock thing where every hour these little guys will make their appearance as little chimes go off.

This is the very beautiful Stadhuis (town hall)

't Keldertje is a historic candle shop where you can buy authentic Gouda candles. Look how small and sweet it is!

Inside the library

This little sign indicates a location to be a historic monument. Seeing as Gouda is such a old and historic town, you can find these almost everywhere!

Andy Goldsworthy was here!
Outside the library

More later :P
p.s. somehow in the process of making this post the text got all messed up so it's hard to read.. sorry!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


So It's been over a month since I last wrote... There's no denying it, I'm a terrible blogger. A lot has happened the past few weeks, instead of giving an overall summery I think I will do a series of posts focusing on individual events.

I think I'll start with Ardennenkamp, which I mentioned in my last post. Unfortunately I didn't bring my camer on this little endeavor for fear that it would get broken/stolen/etc. but thanks to my classmates and the internet I was able to gather a few pictures for your viewing pleasure!
A while ago my class and I went on a four day trip to The region of Ardennes, Belgium. We stayed in a beautiful little old village located on a river in the mountains. Every building was very old and traditonal. There were big baskets of brightly colored flowers everywhere - on the bridges, lamp posts, everywhere! The first thing we did when we arrived was go on a walk/hike using a GPS system through the village and through the surrounding forest. This was very nice because we got to see every little bit of the town. It seemed like I was in a story book. I saw little old women hanging thier laundry on the clothes line whilst thier hustbands sat on the porch reading the morning paper, lazy cats basking in the sun (we had amazing weather), picturesque black and white cows and fluffy Dutch sheep grazing on the hillside, everything was in it's place.

The second day we played dumb bonding games (come on, what's a group trip with out team building?) which I really didn't enjoy, mostly because It was early, freezing, and I had a lingering cold from earlier in the week. The original plan for the day was to go kayaking in the river which would have been relly awesome, but due to the low water level in the river we took the safe rout and went to a swimming pool instead. Haha.

The third day was definately the best of the entire trip. We did many things icluding:


really scary ropes course things...

building rafts from huge wooden poles, plastic barrels, and rope...

...which we paddled around on through the freezing water...

...and eventually fell apart due to lack of raft making skills...

sliding down a "water slide" (my butt hurt a lot after this)...

We also went on a zipline thing through the trees and over the river. Very scary, but very fun.
And the highlight of the day: de modderbad (mud bath)!

entering the mud bath.. I'm thinking 'hey, it's not so bad..'

But then I reached the middle and got completely stuck. I was in sticky eewy gooey mud up to my neck. I can still remember how I smelled that entire day...ughh

This is what every single person looked like after we finally managed to pull ourselves out of the mud pit.

When we finally got back to the hostel (let me just add that instead of getting on the bus we were forced to walk the 2 hours back into town due to our smelly state...) it was a mad rush for the showers. Correction: it was a mad rush for the shower. Thats right, 20 dirty crazy teenagers and only one shower. Oh lordy.

The fourth and final day we went mountain biking. Very scary because I have never gone mountain biking actually in the mountains. We rode on a dirt path with tons of jumbo stones poking out of it, and like I said, we were in the mountains so the trail went very up and down and up and down. Reeeeally steep and reeeeally scary. This was when I started missing flat as a pannenkoek Holland with paved roads and bikes that don't cause you back pain. I am most definately not a fan of this sport (if you can even call it that) and I probably never will be.

More photos! Hooray!

This was the hostel we stayed in. I was in a room with two of my friends Eline and Nienke.

My good friend Nienke and I about to fall asleep..

Every night we had a little bonfire like this outside.

Anne, Nienke and I

Yes! They do have ramen in the Netherlands!

Anne, Nienke, Lizzy and I

So that was Ardennenkamp, overall a very fun week. I got to know my classmates much better and we all had a great time.

On thursday I go to Berlin with the AFS crew! It should prove to be an amazing trip, I'm so excited! More on that later.
Tot straks!! xoxx

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I can't believe it..

I find it so hard to believe I've only been here two weeks. It seems as though I;ve been here so much longer. I am living very comfotably in the Jansen household, and I no longer feel like a guest.

Unfortunately, the tiredness has set in. Nowadays, I am running on low battery energy and I've been napping right and left! Listening to people speaking dutch all day, every day is nothing but exhausting. blahblahblahblah. School hasn't helped with this one bit either...all the instructions,lessons, and textbooks are in dutch. Thankfully the classes are only 50 minutes long (in comparison to the 90 minute classes at AHS..).

Let's talk about my school. Ashram College is about a seven minute bike ride away from my house, which is very convenient, and for which I am very thankful. I know some kids who have to bike about 45 minutes to school (rain ar shine..but usually rain)! In the Netherlands there are two levles of schooling: VWO and HAVO. I'm in VWO 4th year. VWO is the more difficult of the two and is designed for the more ambitous and univerity-destined students. It consists of six levels with students from the ages 12 to 18.

In a few weeks the kids in my class and I will go on a school-oraginzed trip to Belgium for a sort of 'survival camp'. We will do things like camping, hiking, canoeing, biking, and i think some sort of ropes course. I said before that I have made some friends at school but really, I've only known them for a week, so I'm really looking forward to this because I'll hopefully get to know my classmates much better and get past that "Hey, I just met you, but can I follow you around?" kind of friendship.

Well I guess I should probably get some sleep... welterusten!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Happy days in Holland

HOI! (Thats what we say here in Holland!) After many long hours of hotels airports and planes, I have made it to Holland! SUCCESS!
Before I left for Holland I attended a pre-departure orientation in New York City with tons of other AFS kids who were going to northern Europe. For the most part it was very boring... Us kids going to holland were the last group to leave our hotel. We spent a lot of time (not kidding, it was 6 hours!!) just sitting and waiting for our shuttle to the airport... But it wasn't all bad, I made friends with many people going to the same country as me which was really great. I'm looking forward to seeing them at the post-arrival AFS Nederland orientation next weekend!!!!
ANYWAY.... I'm here!!! In the Netherlands! In my Dutch house! In my Dutch room! On my own personal Dutch computer (well, not really.. I'm pretty sure Dell computers aren't made in holland)!!!!!
So far I've been doing typical dutch things such as riding my bike and eating cheese.. haha. I had to buy a new (well..not really new at all..) bike due to the fact that my little midget legs couldn't fit on the bike that my host family had provided me with in the beginning. I thought this was funny. Did you know that the Dutch people are the tallest people in the world?! Very nice for me, going to school and blending in with all the 5 foot tall 12 year olds. NOT.
School...ahh yes. Obviously not something I particularly enjoy. The upside is that lots of kids at school have reached out to me and are very helpful. They all want to help me improve my dutch which is awesome! And I've made some friends which is really nice.
More to come..SOON!


Hello! My name is Caitlin, and I am about to embark on the most exciting adventure of my life! A few weeks ago I received the news that I have been awarded a very generous scholarship to help me study abroad in the Netherlands! I will be living in the city of Alphen Aan Den Rijn with my host parents, Jose and Peter Jansen, and my host sisters, Mieke and Laura

I will be with a program called AFS. Originally starting as a program to transport wounded soldiers in WWI, the American Field Service (AFS) has evolved into an international, non-profit organization that helps kids experience the world and move forward to make a more tolerant, unified, and peaceful world.
While I’m away, I hope to learn a lot about myself and the Dutch culture, and to come out of this experience a much stronger person. In return, I want to teach my Dutch family, friends, and peers what America is like.

I want to take some time and thank my scholarship sponsors. THANK YOU! It means so much to me because you have helped me get that much closer to fulfilling my dream of studying abroad. I could not have done this without you, so thankyouthankyouthankyou!


(originally posted April 2009 on my previous blog)