Oh Canada! Our Home and Native Land!

You may have seen me mention The Highlander in previous posts and wondered what the fuss is about, but it’s for a good reason. Now underneath yes! It is just another bar like any other – but this one in particular is located just 500m from my flat door and every Monday night hosts an International student’s themed drinking night. Monday past was host to a Dirty Fitness night with people dawning their Eric Prydz “Call on Me” lycra and spandex outfits; dancing to a mix of 90’s workout music and enjoying the discount alcohol.

Tired and with class at 8.30 on Tuesday morning, there were many other things on my mind than going out yet again, but not to be a social recluse I sheepishly invited some of my friends in the building down for a couple of drinks. They then decided it was time to go out and with a letter to post home I walked down to the mailbox with them……. Fast forward 3 hours and I’m up on stage belting out the little I know of The Canadian National Anthem with 4 newly made friends from Toronto whilst being bought pints by some fantastic Germans guys in my tutorial. “What are we celebrating?” I asked. “Life” was the reply and I’ll happily drink to that!!

Cheers From The Great White North

Cheers From The Great White North

Valentines Night rolled around and the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) had organised a Traffic Lights party at a building called Circumflex House. Pavel and I jumped on a bottle of Jameson straight after dinner before heading upstairs where Lukas had organised a party which seemed to be a mix of half pre-drinks and half pancake Tuesday (being celebrated a week early.) After stuffing our faces with more food and alcohol we all headed together down to Markt Square where the party was taking place. When we got within 2 blocks we were met by a bouncer who welcomed us and told us to be completely silent. We were escorted down a back alley and into a building which could only be described as an old derelict school with the gym hall having been turned into a dance floor. Apparently due to the neighbours, if even a peep of noise can be heard during the night then the club will get bitch slapped; giving reason for the stealthy approach necessary. If felt more like I was entering the Green Zone in downtown Basra than going out for a few beers.

Now my blog has mainly focused on the nightlife and party atmosphere in Maastricht since getting here, but primarily I am in the Netherlands to study and I haven’t been able to forget that. The tutorials are run as a student discussion with a tutor being present to oversee the proceedings. This means class can be a lot of fun, but also that if you haven’t done a sufficient amount of preparation you’re going to be extremely embarrassed. Almost all the work here is based on self-study which I am fairly suited towards but there are some elements of team work which means it’s not all sitting locked in your room and sweating over a textbook for 6 hours a day. With only 14 people per class, it does just feel like entering a room full of good friends and the mix of culture is fantastic! I am most certainly not jealous of everyone back home cramped for 2 hours in a lecture hall listening to the endless drivel coming out of Margaret Stewart’s mouth.

Multinational Finance Team 3: Ben, Nan & Lim

Multinational Finance Team 3: Ben, Nan & Lim

On Thursday, shocked to find I’ve now been living here for 3 weeks and not tried it yet, Katherine took Steffi and me to experience some real Dutch cuisine. Now if you think Glaswegians are facing health issues at the moment with too much fast food I am bewildered as to how the Dutch are not clinically obese. Walking into the take-away you are greeted with the similar scene as to anywhere else in the world, a Perspex counter enclosing all kinds of fatty (look good when you’re drunk) types of food. “What’s good?” I ask the man behind the counter, who looks like he’s had a bit too much of his own produce. “Nothing is good!” is the reply. Unfazed I order a croquette, a Frikandel and a Kasouflet.

Delicious looking – No!

Tasty – Definitely not!

…But hey, when in Rome.

Each of them, for lack of a better visual aid, looked like a deep fried brown penis: and when bitten into contained contents of which the manufacturer himself probably was wary about encasing. I also noticed that you could buy these types of delicious treats from a wall. All you had to do was put in a couple of euros and then open the drawer to get your surprise. Not today! We will be saving that experience for another time. (PS: There is an awesome photo but I have not managed to get hold of it yet – when I do it will be included immediately)

Ai Se Eu Tu Pego is THE song going around Europe at the moment. Played multiple times every night no matter where you are and accompanied with a very easy dance routine it seems to have taken every country (bar the UK and US) by storm. My flatmates have banned it being played because I’ve had it on repeat so often.

On a final note I thought I would let you guys know a bit more about the building I am living in during my 5 months here. It is Volksplein 70 and I live on floor B with 4 awesome flatmates:

Pavel is from the Czech Republic, could debate his way through any situation and is completely at home with discussions surrounding the UN and the EU. Intellectual conversations can be made seem like banter and he was the one who truly showed me around when I arrived and made me feel at home.

Marta, when asked to describe herself simply said: “I am nice, wonderful and perfect.” Narcissism aside, as well as our Spanish-Scottish accent barrier, she is always up for a laugh and procrastinates like nothing else – always taking a 2 hour Siesta each day!

Veronica is also from Spain and would be worthy contestant on Master Chef. Chilled out, and with a really cool boyfriend, Leo, who stays here more days than not, she is just plain easy to get along with.

Renee hails from Sweden and moved in just 2 days ago, sick of having to share a kitchen with 18 others in the more expensive C-Building Campus. Just as immature and crazy as me we always have such a laugh and my event co-ordinator loves a night out! As cheesy as it may sound, she truly is my best friend here and having, by sheer luck, been placed in the same apartment as me is now an added bonus. Flat partys will be prevalent in the coming weeks.

Well it hasn’t been as jam packed a week as the last but has certainly been just as much fun. Carnival is upon us so it’s time to shelve the books, dress up and celebrate for the next 4 days. After that I plan to do my first bit of travelling since coming to mainland Europe, with the University giving us a week and a half holiday. I wrote this post to be more informative than humorous, wanting this blog to cover as many aspects of my stay here as possible. Stay tuned however because next week is likely to be a belter.

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