I think the moral of this story, as I type this in the cloud of the worst viral epidemic to hit Europe in at least a century, as that any attempt I make to travel abroad is just going to end badly. But no matter, if I can survive an entire city ripping itself apart, I’m sure I can survive a particularly nasty outbreak of flu. Anyhow, now’s as good a time as any to tell you about my pre-viral experiences here in the Netherlands, since it doesn’t seem like i’ll be going back to those experiences any time soon.
The city of Nijmegen is, unsurprisingly, quite a far cry from the massive metropolis of Hong Kong, if anything it’s more like what we would call a large town in Britain than an out-and-out city, but in a way that does fit the general small nature of the country of the Netherlands. To outsiders, we may only associate Nijmegen with it’s infamous bridge, as depicted in many a classic World War 2 film, but it’s also the country’s oldest city. I arrived at my new home on the 2nd February, after staying the previous night at a friend of mine doing the Master’s degree in Amsterdam. I was soon greeted by a welcome party of student representatives, who took us over to the University for us to receive welcome packs and keys to our accommodation (So far so standard then).
I had booked myself in for an orienteering week prior to my arrival in country. Unfortunately I had not been informed that such activities meant to help internationals settle in to their new surroundings were to happen concurrently with the first lectures of our modules, which unfortunately meant I was literally unable to go to some of these events without missing important course information needed for my studies. So alas, I had to refrain myself from trying to make new friends right off of the bat. Luckily I had the chance to do so once I met some of my neighbours in Galgenveld, a student halls complex about 15 minutes walking distance from the univeristy.
Speaking of walking, one may notice in Nijmegen about the major use of cycling as the primary means of transport from one place to another. Not that there isn’t a public transportation system in place or anything such as that, but the intricate construction of cycling lanes alongside roads is something I’ve never quite seen before in the UK, to the point where it feels like a city designed with cycling chiefly in mind. Not that I’ve picked up on this local craze mind you, I don’t head too much into the city, and the walk to university isn’t too demanding for me. And such a decision was only bolstered when several of my roommates had their rental bikes stolen overnight, making me 50 euro in the black compared to them.
I’ve yet to do much travelling outside of Nijmegen so far, bar one short trip to the Hague with a local friend of mine to go to the Kunstmuseum (best known for being the chief repository of works by the De Stijl art movement), and now with Coronavirus in full swing, I worry about whether I will get the chance to. For now, I’m just staying in halls and catching up with work, whilst the world seems to fall apart outside around me. But if you happen to survive at all, stay tuned for my next post where I’ll talk a little about being a student in the Dutch higher education system.