So, I made it! I’m here in Holland sitting in the University Guesthouse having had a couple of days to explore and get my bearings.
It feels like longer than 48 hours though, not sure why. Possibly partly because it’s been jam packed- travelling, meeting new colleagues then running about all afternoon to sort out bureaucracy like a BSN (Dutch equivalent of a National Insurance Number) and a bank account. I am very glad Jack did this all before me and was able to help me before I came. Legalised birth certificates are needed for a number of important things! I also ran out of room for some things in my packing, and forgot other things, so that needed a certain degree of fixing. I went to my new boss’s home for dinner with his family, which was lovely and very welcome as I was very tired and a bit lost by that point! I tried Stampot (mashed potatoes with other things added, in this case spinach), these vegetarian meatball things and Vla, all of which were delicious. I also got to play with kittens! They have 5 six week old kittens at the moment, of an oriental breed which is very angular and bony with short hair and big ears- gorgeous, Egyptian looking cats.
Yesterday was project meetings. I don’t officially start work until Tuesday but I’m taking most of the day off to move, and we have a huge number of things to do before we start fieldwork in April, so we need to start making decisions about what techniques we want to employ and what equipment we are going to need. That lasted most of the day because I also got to meet many of my new colleagues, and had a tour of the GIA, including a basement chock-full of amazing artefacts (and replicas) from the first half of the 20th Century. I had an invite to the pub last night but just needed to crash.
Today has been frustrating. I want to get on with sorting out my new place but so many things require me to wait for my bank card to arrive- to set up the internet and a Dutch mobile contract requires a swipe of the card and a pin entry from me as part of the identity checks, so that’s all on hold until next week at the earliest. This is doubly annoying as it takes about 4 weeks to get connected to the internet here, so I’m not likely to have internet at home until after I come back from Italy in mid April. My office shuts at 6 as well, so no really much chance to Skype from there in the evenings. I might have to start lurking in internet cafes. There is a big food market here on Fridays which includes fresh fish. Matt is going to love it. The fish stalls all have their own cookers and sell squid, prawns, scampi and little fish in batter on the street. It smells amazing. There is a huge variety of fish, all very very fresh. I need to start to learn the dutch names. I walked out to my new flat today as well. I got rather lost on the way there, but worked out the right route on the way back. It’s about 10 minutes from the start of the city centre, and about 25 from my office, walking, and even faster on a bike. As I’ve already said the area is a bit on the interesting side, but it’s cheap and pretty secure and it seems that nothing here is very far from anywhere- it’s quite a compact city. It’s also got vast numbers of shops. only about 20,000 less people live here than in Southampton, but it’s much more compact, and the city centre has so many shops! I’ve seen everything from a shop specifically for mens underwear to little local bakeries that have a ‘Broodje-mat’ – a vending machine for their bread, outside, so you can buy bread 24/7!
While my current phone doesn’t have the best camera, I can take snaps, and I’ve decided to start a ‘365’ project on my flickr. You can find it here. I’m cheating and uploading a few from today, but I think it would be a cool way to record my first year here.
This afternoon I am tired and sorefooted so I’m going to lurk in my room, do some reading on the project and possibly play computer games. I’m trying to take advice from @tag and blog little and often, so I shall try to add more tomorrow. Though, I’ve just been invited to the pub with the PhD students, so Ciao for now!
Neko/ Kayt x