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Farewells and Flat Tires, Sailboats and Weddings [Aug. 7th, 2005|10:06 am]
AIESEC Halifax
andrewbyte
Well it is now official. I am currently the only trainee left in Wageningen. A week ago Thursday we had the farewell dinner for our good friend Farid. When I say we had, I mean he made dinner for all of us. It was quite good, and I’m told a common French dish. To me it seemed a little like scallop potatoes back home but with meat and cheese thrown in too. It was quite good as can be seen in the pictures. AIESEC also presented Farid with some gifts that would help him make little Dutch pancakes. Another trainee has moved on and like all the rest we will miss him as well as his wonderful girlfriend Ayet. I wish them both the best of luck back in France.

That Saturday afternoon I set out like I usually do this time of the week to buy some groceries. However, when I came upon my bike I found it laying on its side itstead of upright in the outdoor bike rack. I picked it up and found that the front tire was completely flat. Scotty was out of commision. Oh well, I’d worry about it later because I still had to buy groceries. The store isn’t too far away so I just walked instead. When I got home I told Hillebrand and Simona about my bad luck. Hillebrand offered to help me patch up the tire if I could get some tools from Adrienne. So I waited until Adrienne got home and borrowed his bike repair kit. I then went downstairs to bring up the bike so Hillebrand and I could take a closer look. As I was taking it out of the elevator I noticed that the back tire seemed to be losing air as well. We got it in the corridor and took a closer look at the tires and found that this had been deliberate. There were thin cuts on both sides of the front tire and also in two places on the back tire. Someone had used a knife to puncture my tires. Someone had assaulted poor Scotty. It didn’t look like we would be able to repair this. Oh well, I figured this sort of thing just happens. Nothing I could do but take him to get new tires on Monday. I was informed by Simona and Hillebrand that most stores in town are closed on Monday mornings and that I would have better luck going in the afternoon.

So Monday morning I made the 30 minute hike up the hill to work which turned out to be closer to 40 minutes with Scotty being dragged beside me. Then at lunch time I dragged him down to the center of town to the bike shop and found that this store happens to be closed all day on Monday. Of course, why would a bike shop want to open on a Monday? That’s just crazy talk. So I dragged Scotty back up the hill to work for the second time that day and then made the 40 minute walk back home at the end of the day as well. Needless to say, I was becoming a little more annoyed with the situation as time passed. Never the less, Tuesday morning I was back out again dragging Scotty’s sorry butt through town but this time I stopped at the bike shop before work. Lucky for them, they were open that day. I went in and left the bike, I mean Scotty, with the guy who would put on two brand new mountain bike tires and it should be ready the end of the day. Finally at the end of the day I made my way back to the bike shop and after dishing out 60 Euros(nearly $80 Canadian) me and Scotty headed home, good as new. I no longer leave him locked up at the bike racks outside. I always put him in the sheds out back now. Won’t be taking any more chances after all the money I’ve spent on him the last few months.

After that unfortunate mess things were looking up for the weekend. This weekend was the great Rotterdam Reception Weekend. This would be a weekend of sailing on the Ijsselmeer, the largest fresh water lake in Europe located in Northern Holland. Four of us would be going from Wageningen but only Dorien and I would be leaving from here. So on Saturday morning we agreed to meet at the bus station at the center of town. I could have biked but I didn’t want to leave my bike outside for the weekend after the week I just had so I decided to walk. Just my luck it was pouring rain that morning. A girl back home had message me the other day telling me that I had the worst luck of anyone she has ever known. Before I thought she was crazy, but maybe she was on to something. Regardless, I made it to the bus station at 7:15am. I was a little damp since my rain jacket seems to absorb water rather than resist it but the important thing is I showed up on time. A couple minutes later Dorien arrived and we boarded the bus to begin our journey. The route of the bus happened to go through town and actually went right by a bus stop outside my building. I could have easily caught the bus there. Neither of us knew that before. Luckily I learned a long time ago to laugh at the funny things in life. I will just know better for next time.

The bus took us to Ede where we then caught a train all the way to Amsterdam. In Amsterdam we met up with Onne from our group as well as almost all the other AIESEC people from around the country who were arriving as well. We then all piled onto a bus that took us to Muiden where we would meet our vessel. This is also where Lisanne from our group met up with us too. We now had our whole group. It was time to come aboard the Sanne Sophia. It was quite a large boat, the biggest sail boat I’ve been on with 3 masts and a huge party room below deck. We dumped our stuff down stairs and went back up and waited for departure. Luckily the rain had stopped and the skies were beginning to clear. It was also getting warmer and would turn out to be a great day for sailing. It took us awhile to leave because we had to wait in a queue to pass through the lock of the canal to get out onto the open water. This took over an hour but once we were out the hoisted they sails and we were on our way.

On board I had the chance to meet with other AIESEC trainees, some I had met in Utrect a few months earlier and some new faces I had not met before. Leslie and Adam from Canada were both there which was good to see as well as Anna, Leslie's house mate from Serbia. One of the few people I have met here who has actually heard of Prince Edward Island. Sadly it is because of the television show Road to Avonlea. I also met Vikas who was born in Canada but grew up in India. The funny thing is that we had been emailing each other before I came to Holland both trying to figure out how the Holiday Work Visa worked. What is also funny is that Vikas had gotten his information from Leslie. It looks like it all worked out in the end for everybody.

After a wonderful day of sailing we started to come upon our destination of Hoorn but the ship dropped anchor just outside the harbour for a time honored AIESEC Netherlands tradition. The national board was passing on their duties to the new board and to complete the process each of the new members had to dive into the water and chase the old member who had the key to their office. It was a very fun and wet experience for all involved full of speeches, hugs, and champagne.

It was then onto the harbour of Hoorn. A few of us went into town to do some sightseeing and take some pictures. When we returned to the ship we were treated with shoarma for dinner and it was good. After that it was time to unwind with some beer, wine, and weird apple flavoured liquor called Pucker. It’s great to have a bar on the boat. Later in the night we all migrated into town and walked to a local pub where we all hung out and had a good time. At the end it was back to the boat to get some sleep.

Trying to find a place to sleep on the lower deck of a sail boat with 60 other people is no easy task. I finally manage to find my own little piece of floor right next to a stack of chairs. I even had to stick my head underneath these chairs to have enough room. Not the most comfortable or safe arrangements but it would have to do. Now if only everyone would be quiet. Most people were trying to sleep but it seemed that a handful of people wanted to keep the party going. There was a lot of yelling and screaming, and one guy was even ringing a bell. I was pretty close to losing my patience but then I suddenly just passed out. I guess exhaustion had just finally over taken me. Hey lucky me.

Next thing I know I wake up because it is raining on my head. I open my eyes and there is something hanging over my head dripping on my face. With great effort I sit up and find that some one had draped their soaking wet air mat over the stack of chairs I was sleeping under. I don’t know why it was soaking wet, I didn’t much care. I just didn’t want it dripping on me anymore. I didn’t so much move it as I did nudge it so the corner wasn’t hanging over my head anymore. Now I could get some sleep. At least the noisy people had finally passed out. As I lied down I found that my pillow was dripping wet. No matter, I’m gonna sleep if it kills me. After several short spurts of sleep it was finally morning and people were starting to move around. I lied there on my back for awhile looking up when suddenly someone passed by bumping the stack of chairs. They wobbled for a second then started coming down on me. Luckily I was awake at this moment to reach up and stop them from toppling onto me. Otherwise I would have been pretty grumpy that morning.

Weather on Sunday turned out to be much worse than it was on Saturday. It rained all morning and it was cold and windy all day. It didn’t much matter to us then, we were all very tired and just wanted to go home so home we went. It was really a great weekend, and I can easily see why it is the most popular reception weekend of the year.

Sadly this week was the week Simona moved out of the corridor. She has been waiting to hear whether she will be able to study here in Wageningen for the next two years and just this week she got the good news. However she went home to Czech for the month of August and then in September she’ll be moving into Asserpark a few blocks away. She had been really stressing out about it all month and I’m glad to see it worked out for her and I’m glad she’ll be coming back in the fall. I’m sorry to see another room mate leave but before she left she somehow talked me into making dinner for her and her boyfriend/former corridor mate Hillebrand. Czech girls are clever like that I guess. She buttered me up real good saying that my shepherds pie was just phenomenal. Well I couldn’t argue with her there. It is rather good. So Hillebrand and Simona came by that evening with some wine and they helped me make what I think was my best shepherds pie yet. We then followed it up with some ice cream. Nothing says celebration like wine, Shepherds Pie, and ice cream. Now the great thing is they owe me dinner next time.

Finally I would just like to take a quick moment to extend my congratulations to my friends AJ and Krista who got married yesterday Aug 6, 2005 back on Prince Edward Island. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to help celebrate but I wish you both all the best in your new life together.

Well that wraps up another exciting installment of The BYTE in Holland. I think things will be really picking up in the coming weeks. All the students will be coming back soon, I’ll be getting a bunch of new roommates, and all the partying and mayhem will get under way so stay tuned. Until next time….
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Happy Birthday To Me [Jul. 17th, 2005|10:04 am]
AIESEC Halifax
andrewbyte
Jul 17, 2005

Happy Birthday to me.

I hope everyone is not too mad at me since I have really flaked on writing any journals lately. I think it has been almost three weeks now. I will have to do my best to go back in time so far but I’ll give it a try.

When I left off last time, I was heading to the 7th Lustrum of AIESESC in Wageningen that Saturday. The morning started off with meeting up with everybody at the AIESEC office. After a speech from Onne the new president we were all on our bikes heading to the Rijn river. There we settled down and enjoyed a lunch on the beach. Too bad it was so cloudy but oh well. After lunch we were given an elaborate bike tour through town which ended at the sports center. There we all took part in an afternoon of mini-golf. However, the Dutch like to call it midget-golf, go figure. It was a fun afternoon but my score at the end was certainly nothing to brag about so I won’t.

After golf, it was back on our bikes for another elaborate bike tour through town which ended this time at the student association building SSR-W where we would have our BBQ. Must I say it? I do love a good BBQ. Sorry, but I do. The food was great once again and so was the beer ;). The company of course was also quite enjoyable. I had planned to go to my boss’s BBQ that evening but I was having such a good time where I was I changed my mind. Besides, it didn’t seem like any of the guys from work were going anyway. I always feel weird going to a party where I don’t know anybody.

After the BBQ we headed inside where Percy, the old president gave a few power point presentations, presented a bottle of wine to the golfer with the best score that day, and led us in a puzzle game about AIESEC. After that, it was downstairs to the bar for our private Wild Wild West party. It was a great night of dancing, drinking, and water pistols. The party wrapped up at around 1am but a few of us made our way to the GAT for more partying. It seemed like a good idea at the time but I forgot how crowded and uncomfortable it was in that bar on a Saturday night. So after only 30 min it was time to head home. I was pretty tired anyways, it had been quite a long and eventful day.

The next day it was much hotter and sunnier so my corridor mate Emiel, some of his friends and I, headed down to the Rijn river again for the afternoon. We hung around and enjoyed the sun and a good swim. The beach is not that impressive and doesn’t even compare to the beaches back home but it’s close by and it was fun.

That Tuesday, Lennert held a BBQ at his house for all the AIESEC people. Yes, I’m going to say it. Here it is. I do love a good BBQ. The place where Lennert lives is HUGE. It’s this old colonial house that some old guy is restoring. There are huge gardens in the back and a bunch of terraces and even a pond with gold fish. The guy rents the house to members of the Ceres student association. It’s crazy that students live in such a place but it is pretty cool. After we ate we all hung out by the camp fire and enjoyed the summer evening and a bit of wine. Okay, some people enjoyed a lot of wine.

The next night on Wednesday it was Tjeerd’s 21st birthday party. It was a nice house party but yet again I ended up staying much longer than I planned. What else it new. That Saturday I spent the evening with my corridor mates. It was really nice to have all of us hang out together especially since many of them will be heading home or away on holiday soon. I forget what it was called but we had this dinner made in these little individual pans that were heated on what kinda looked like an over sized George Foreman grill. We had little pieces of pork, chicken, meat balls, and veggies. It was really good. I’m told it is pretty common here, even on Christmas. After we ate we headed to the pub called the Flip. Emiel was the DJ there that night. After that we all headed back home and sat around some more and sampled some strong Czech liquor before tumbling into bed yet again.

The following week was a bit quieter, except for maybe my birthday. Yup I turned 24 on July 6th. I never imagined I would be turning 24 in Holland but here I am. I was not really planning anything but I got an email the night before from Jorieke from AIESEC suggesting everyone come over to help me celebrate. I was promised cake so how could I refuse. That day I brought some mini apple pies for my co-workers. Here in The Netherlands it is custom to bring cake or sweets for people on your birthday. I thought it was a little backwards but when in Holland… When I got home from work I was dropping the mail off in the kitchen (except for the card from Mom and Dad) when Roel said I should walk to my room now. I thought that was a little weird but I headed down the hall and saw a chair in front of my door. On the chair was a smiley face made of Czech pudding. My roommate Simona had taken it upon herself to make me a dessert for my birthday. I thought it was really sweet. I don’t think anyone has ever made me anything before, except maybe my mom and my sisters. That evening, around 9pm, a few AIESEC people showed up with a cherry pie, some candles, and a gift. After some gentle persuasion I got up on a chair while everyone sang me a Dutch birthday song. Then I opened my gift which turned out to be a Dutch Cooking Book. That would definitely come in handy. It was a nice evening and I’m glad I was talked into celebrating. It’s probably a birthday I won’t soon forget. That weekend I took an easy recipe from my new cookbook and with a lot of help from Simona I made a very nice Shepherd’s Pie(Dutch style).

I think that brings me up to this week. Nothing too exciting happened until Thursday night that is. Hanneke from AIESEC made a wonderful dinner for everyone who was still in town. We had a nice tomato soup, followed by pasta with salmon, finishing up with chocolate mousse and ice cream. Mmmmm mmmm good. After dinner we sat around and watched Madagascar on Hanneke’s computer which was quite funny but I thought much too short. We then spent the rest of the evening drinking wine and beer and just hanging out. Some people went home but Hanneke, Percy, and of course, I decided to head to the GAT for a little while. I can never say no to a party. We didn’t stay too long, just long enough to get our partying fix.

Yesterday was Saturday, and like most Saturdays I stayed in bed until noon. The day was pretty uneventful. Just shopped for groceries and did laundry. Things have really become quiet around here now. There are only two other people left in my corridor now, Roel and Simona. Everyone else has moved out, gone home to work, or are gone on holidays. Many of my AIESEC friends are also away as well. Everyone should be coming back in the middle of August though. I will even get quite a few new corridor mates for the coming year. I hope they are all as cool as my old ones.

Saturday night Simona and her friend Olivia had some friends over for dinner and were nice enough to invite me as well. One guy was from Greece, another from Italy, and another from Iraq. It was cool to meet some other foreign people and learn a little bit about their cultures and where they are from. We experienced a little Italian culture that night since we did not start dinner until nearly 10pm. It was a very nice meal too consisting of carrot soup to start, Czech goulash(not Hungarian), and mini pancakes for dessert. Yes, I said pancakes. It was all very good and it turned out to be quite a nice evening. As repayment I then made Simona and Olivia some tacos for dinner this evening. They were fantastic if I do say so myself.

Whew, I think that about covers everything that has happened the last few weeks. Work is still going well and I even got paid which is really nice. I’m still waiting for my raise but I’m told that will most likely come in or after August when I start working more directly on the whole Topshare main project with the other developers. No problem. I can wait. I hope it comes though. It would give me a chance to do some traveling like I hope to do as well as head home for Christmas. I won’t worry about it now, just wait and see what happens.

Alright folks, that’s it for me for now. I will try not to wait so long next time before my next entry. Keep writing me and signing my guest book everybody. I really do love hearing from everyone back home. Take care all until next time.
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Dutch People are great [Jun. 24th, 2005|10:04 am]
AIESEC Halifax
andrewbyte
Due to popular demand The BYTE Goes Dutch brings its legions of loyal fans another exciting journal from the land of windmills and wooden shoes. Like I mentioned in my last journal a few of us went down stairs to the Bunker for the final party. Unlike the week before the place was absolutely packed. Like many of the parties here that I’ve been to, the beer was plentiful and being passed around, in most cases free. People kept showing up with trays of small glasses full of beer and just handing them out. I didn’t even know the people half the time. Dutch people are great!!!

As always, after a night of partying, going to work the next day was brutal. Once I was there however, it wasn’t so bad. Work is actually going very well. I have a couple projects that I’m working on at the moment. One is more research and testing related, while the other has me doing a lot of programming which is what I really enjoy the most. They seem to be happy with the work I’m doing. People at AIESEC say that my boss is quite impressed with me. Honestly though, I have no idea what it is I’m doing that is so impressive, but hey, just go with it. I was also told that they’re not going to be paying me the minimum required salary demanded by AIESEC after all, which by the way is not a whole lot. Instead they want to pay me a little closer to what the other developers are getting paid. I have no idea what that is yet but I imagine it is pretty good.

You see I still have not been paid yet. I couldn’t get paid until I had a bank account, and I couldn’t get a bank account until I had a Sofi-Number which is like our Social Insurance Number. I finally had an appointment in Nijmegen on June 8. Kathelijn(who I am forever indebted to for all her help) escorted me to the tax office there where me patiently waited for nearly an hour and a half while they processed my number. I have no idea what they were doing back there but it really took forever.

The next day I made my way to the bank and opened up a bank account. I got the account number so my work can now deposit my salary into my bank account. It’s been awhile now, but still no money. I’m told the accountant should have it done this week or next. It doesn’t matter much anyway. It took almost two weeks just to get my bank card delivered. I’m also told that I get around 26 days of holidays this year to use whenever I like. I’m not sure yet but I think I will take a couple weeks in August or September to tour around Europe. I will probably use the other few weeks to come home to Canada for Christmas holidays. We’ll just have to see how things go.

I did get some good news from home. My nephew Callum Joseph Deveaux was born on the morning of June 9th. I’m an uncle once again for the 6th time.

That Thursday night Jesse, the out going Vice President of AIESEC had a party at his house. I knew this was going to be a busy week. It was a good night and I met a lot of new people. At the end of the night a few of us headed to Ali Baba’s for some shoarma which is a Turkish dish that I have come to love. It’s kind of like donair meat but it’s all cut up.

Then on Saturday, AIESEC was having a training day and invited the trainees to the BBQ they were having that evening. As we all know, I do love a good BBQ. You can check out some of the pictures on the Photos page. We headed over to The Gat for some drinks and dancing afterwards. At the end of the night I found myself heading to Ali Baba’s for some more shoarma. Woooooooooooooo! It did get kind of crazy though. Jesse and Andrzej got into a bit of a shoarma sauce fight. Well they were both pretty smashed at the time after all the shots of vodka they each had. Andrzej was celebrating his last weekend in Wageningen before he returned to Poland. They both had sauce on their faces and shirts and I was just hoping they didn’t get any on me. Thankfully they didn’t. Jesse was waving his wallet and complaining about the sauce that got on it when it suddenly flew from his hand and right into the bowl full of shoarma sauce. Needless to say it was quite an entertaining ending to an entertaining night, though I think Andrzej went back to the Gat, sauce covered shirt and all. That’s dedication.

After such a busy week, the following week was much more relaxed. No parties all week which was just fine with me. I needed to relax a bit. Just last weekend it was way too hot to do much of anything. Holland has been experiencing a heat wave all this week. The afternoons at the office are pretty tiring in this kind of heat, but hey, I manage.

Just last night I gave a power point presentation on Canada after the AIESEC meeting. It went pretty good I think but maybe a little long. After the meeting there was a social drink outside. What a shocker!!! I was pretty tired and didn’t plan to stay long but the next thing I knew it was 11pm and I was easily persuaded into going to a party at SSR, one of the several student associations in town. Not too many people there but it was still a good time. This morning was quite a struggle. I was lucky I even got up because my watch stopped working for some reason so my alarm didn’t go off. After messing with it a bit I managed to get it working again.

So tonight I’m just chilling out at home, writing this journal of course, and watching some CSI. Tomorrow though is another busy day. It is the 7th Lustrum (35th anniversary) of AIESEC in Wageningen and they are having a day of activities, a BBQ(I do love BBQ), and a party that night. I might have to miss out on the BBQ however. My boss happens to be having his own BBQ and party the same evening. I figure it would be a good idea to go to that, even if just for a bit.

So I guess that’s it for now. As you can all see, things are going quite well for me here. I hope everything is going good back home with everybody. Everyone should drop me a line and let me know what’s up, or hey sign my new guest book. Until next time…
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Partij Partij Partij [Jun. 5th, 2005|10:52 am]
AIESEC Halifax
andrewbyte
Well yesterday was the one month mark of my time here in Holland. It seems to have gone by pretty fast. I guess time just really gets away from you when you are so busy. This is one of the reasons why I haven’t written any journals in awhile. Hopefully the pictures on the website have given you all an idea what I’ve been up to the last couple weeks.

Two weeks ago was the AIESEC reception weekend in Utrecht. Each of the nine AIESEC clubs in the country, take turns hosting such weekends throughout the year. This weekend consisted of an afternoon of sports, a BBQ, and partying into the wee hours of the night.

Pavel, Percy, Tjeerd and I took the train to Utrecht on Saturday morning. Utrecht is in the center of the country and acts as one of the major train hub. You can get to pretty much anywhere by going through Utrecht first. So of course the train station was absolutely massive. It connected to a large shopping center which was quite crowded. We managed to meet up with Onne there, who happens to be the incoming president for AIESEC Wageningen. Once outside the mall we were in the center of town. Shops, pubs, and restaurants lined either side of the long streets. These streets seemed more suited for pedestrians than for cars and there were definitely many people walking around. Every so often you would also see some street performers. One guy was dressed in a gorilla out fit and rolling a big ball shaped like the planet into passers by. He was promoting Green Peace I think.

After a bit of a walk through town we finally made our way to the AIESEC office. There were already people there registering. People were coming from all the AIESEC chapters in The Netherlands, about 120 in all. There were also a few trainees as well including Adam, Leslie, and Paul from Canada. After some provided sandwiches and juice for lunch they herded us all onto a city bus which took us all the way to a large sporting complex. There were tennis courts, soccer fields, and beach volleyball courts all on the premises. That afternoon we would all be split into random teams and would play a few games of beach volleyball and field hockey. I hadn’t played beach volleyball since high school, and I think it showed especially in my serve. I think I may have gotten the ball over the net once the whole day. Although I think I did not too bad with the rest of the game, I made a few plays here and there and held my own. Field hockey on the other hand was a different story. I had never played this before and the short sticks with the hook like blade at the end took some getting used to. It was hard just to stop the ball with your stick. Oh well, it was still a pretty fun afternoon and it was a good way to meet some other people from different cities.

After sports came the BBQ. I do love a good BBQ. The food was awesome and so was the beer. After we ate they had a bit of an awards ceremony. It was the last reception weekend of the school year so they were giving some awards to the AIESEC clubs for best TN teams, best SN team, most innovative team, and team of the year. Proudly Wageningen accepted the runner-up prize for the TN team of the year. Nice work guys, next year it will be yours, along with all those other trophies.

We then met Marten who would be giving us a place to sleep at his place. So Percy, Tjeerd, Onne, Mieke, Nicole and I made our way by bus with Marten to his place. We ditched our stuff in his living room and hopped back on the bus to take us down town to the first bar of the evening. It was pretty small and way too crowded and the music, as I have found the case in a lot of Dutch bars, kinda sucked. However, Tjeerd did teach me how to order a beer in Dutch. “Mag ik un bier.” The waitress did laugh at me but I guess I said it close enough because she did bring me a beer so I consider it a success. After this bar we made our way to a student association bar called the Wooloomooloo. There we found all the AIESEC people from earlier that day. All in all it was a pretty good party but I think everyone was so exausted from the afternoon of activities that we decided to hit the road around 3:30am. We couldn’t go home on an empty stomach though so we stopped at a small pub and ordered some Turkish dish which may have been the tastiest thing I have ever eaten after going to a bar. We tried to hail a cab but no cabs will take any more than 4 passengers and we had 5. So it was a 30 minute walk for us back to Marten’s. I was totally exausted and soon unrolled my sleeping bag and went to sleep. I must apologize to the other guys. I’m told I snored pretty loud. The next day we stopped at the AIESEC office for a quick brunch, then we headed for the train station to go home. It was really a great weekend and I look forward to the next one in July in Rotterdam. I’m told we are going sailing. I do love boats.

The following weekend AIESEC Wageningen was having a turn over weekend where the old members train all the new members to take over next year. It actually takes about a month but they start it off with a camping trip. They also invited the trainees so Farid, Ayet and I decided to go together. We showed up on Saturday afternoon and I was able to meet all the new AIESEC members that would be taking over this year as well as some of the older ones that I hadn’t met yet. Farid and I were going to give presentations on our respective countries but there was only time for one. I graciously allowed Farid to go first. I’m a good guy like that. After the presentation it was time to hit the pool. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone swimming. Summer can’t be too far away. The weather was absolutely perfect all day, getting high as 30 degrees. I even got a bit of a sun burn, but nothing major. After the pool it was time for a BBQ. Did I mention I love BBQ. They had an old charcoal BBQ though, and it was quite a long chore to get it going but the good food was well worth the wait. Later in the night we found ourselves heading to the campground bar called the Ski Hut. It wasn’t the greatest bar, the music was terrible and often repeated but I still found myself having a great time. I guess it all depends on who you’re there with and the AIESEC guys are a fun group to party with. You can see for yourself on the photos page. The next morning, while the others were having work shops and training sessions, we helped tear down the rest of the site and clean up some stuff. Then we just tossed the old football and hung out until lunchtime. After lunch it was some final words and then we all headed home. I do love camping and hope I get the chance to go again while I’m here.

The day was not over however. That night it was Pavel’s going away party. He is a Czech trainee who finished up his term and was heading home. He says he may return in September if he can since the company he worked for offered him a job. Not too bad. You can also see a few pictures from his party as well. I only knew the guy for a few weeks but I’m sorry to see him go. Hope you come back soon Pavel.

Then, just last Tuesday night I found myself at the Bunker. It is just tiny little bar at the bottom of my building mainly for students who live here. It just so happened that Emile, my corridor mate was a DJ there that night so I agreed to go with Nathalie to go a see him. When we arrived there were like 3 or 4 other people at the bar and that was it. We went up stairs to the DJ booth where Emile and a few of his friends were. We hung out for awhile, had a few drinks, but after awhile we decided to call it a night. Besides, I did have to work the next day. The party was a dud but the music totally kicked ass. (And I’m not just saying that because Emile will probably read this either.)

Thursday night I found myself out again. Do people not party on the weekends here or what? It was Onne’s birthday party which was weird to me since he celebrated his birthday at the reception weekend in Utrecht. Go figure. So once again I found myself hanging out with my new AIESEC friends. I didn’t plan to stay out too late but it seemed that every time I was ready to leave someone was handing me a drink. I couldn’t be rude. That’s just not the Canadian way. Next thing I know we’re heading down to the pub called the Gat. After another hour or so I finally called it quits and headed home on my bike. Needless to say, I was pretty tired the next morning again but guys back home know that is typical for me on a Friday morning.

Now it is the weekend yet again. I actually took things pretty easy yesterday. Just went to the center, bought a rack, bag, and lights for my bike and put them on. You can get fined if you drive your bike at night without lights. The rack and bag would help me carry stuff such as groceries on the back of my bike. The rest of the day I just did laundry, got groceries and did basic chores that I didn’t have time to do all week. The evening was spent hanging out with Emile and Nathalie watching Predator on TV. It’s nice to have a relaxing weekend for a change. Something tells me that the week to come will be just as tiring as the last. It’s the last night of the year at the Bunker on Tuesday with two for one drinks, and Jesse from AIESEC is having a party on Thursday night. Stay tuned for more pictures and journals in the near future but now I think I’m going to go take a nap.
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Als alle gekken konden vliegen hadden we een permanente zonsverduistering [May. 19th, 2005|10:25 pm]
AIESEC Halifax
andrewbyte
(DUTCH)- Als alle gekken konden vliegen hadden we een permanente zonsverduistering

(ENGLISH)- If all fools could fly, the sun would be eclipsed forever

Well it’s been just over 2 weeks since I arrived here in Wageningen and I’m happy to report that things are going rather well. I am much more comfortable finding my way around town and I haven’t gotten lost again since that first night.

On May 5th there was a huge celebration in town to commemorate the liberation of The Netherlands from the Germans at the end of World War II. I met up with Cecile, Rianne, Rianne’s sister, and Pavel(a fellow trainee from the Czech Republic) for a tour around the city during the festivities. There were several stages around the center of town where bands were playing music and there were stands selling beer everywhere you looked. What is great about Europe is that they don’t care if you drink out doors. There liquor laws are very relaxed. However, that day you were expected to keep your drinks in cups. I guess it was to encourage people to purchase drinks at the stands instead of bringing your own. The amount of people there was insane. In a town that usually held 30,000 people was now busting at the seams with 130,000. Many of the streets were decorated with streamers, and flags including Canadian flags. People come from all over for this festival every year. At 4:30pm there was a long parade of war veterans through the center of town. There were veterans from Britain, America, and Canada as well as a few other nations. They were not just from WWII either but also from more recent wars including the one in Afghanistan. People lined the streets rows deep and clapped the entire hour it took for them all to pass by. There were some kids who would run out and shake the hands of the older men as they passed by and the men would stop and shake hands. Everyone seemed genuinely excited to see these heroes of old and expressed their appreciation and gratitude in a way that made me feel proud to be Canadian.

The next day was Friday so I met up with Kathelijn in the morning to head over to City Hall to get all the papers I would need to fill out. We then headed to the bank to get a bank account set up but it seemed I would need a Social Insurance Number to do that and I couldn’t get that until I submitted the forms. I just love red tape. So then Kathelijn brought me to the place I would be working. Where the heck did this mountain come from? The office is situated on campus which is right on top of the biggest hill in town. Just getting to the top wiped me clean out. I tried my best to get my breathing and heart rate back to normal as we went inside. I didn’t want my introductions to be with me panting the whole time. We went inside and I met my colleagues Jan, Richard, Emile, Ian, and Winston. Jan then explained to me that Marten, the guy who hired me, was out the night before celebrating the 5th of May when he fell off his bike and hit his head. He was home with some cuts and bruises and I believe a concussion. He was ok for the most part but would be in next week probably. We then decided that I would begin work on Monday and with that we left.

The weekend was not too eventful. I went biking around town on Saturday to explore some more of the town. I went to the center and checked out the outdoor market they have there every Wednesday and Saturday. I checked out some of the shops around there as well. Back at home I did some laundry, watched some tv, listened to my diskman in my room, got to know some of my roommates a bit and basically just chilled out after my long arduous week.

Monday was my first day of work. I was given an old Dell Pentium II laptop by Jan to work on. He had ordered me a brand new HP desk top for work but it would take a week to show up. He said I could take the laptop home and connect to the internet in my room if I wished. I thought that was pretty cool of him. It’s just an old laptop but it will give a chance to really keep in touch with family and friends back home as well as keep my website up to date. I’m writing this journal on that very laptop right now. The work they are doing there seems pretty cool and mostly centers on content management on the internet for companies and organization. I’m still getting to know how things work and the kind of stuff they want me to do but I really think it will a good place to improve my database and web programming skills. The rest of the guys there are pretty cool and we usually head over to the student building across the street called Unitas for lunch. Lunch isn’t too expensive and usually runs about €2.00 or €2.50 which is under $4.00 canadian. That will get you 2 sandwiches and a glass of milk. Not bad I think. There is also this strange Dutch food that I have become addicted to. They are called Krockets. They look like deep fried hot dogs but actually inside there is some sort of goo that has different kinds of meat product in it too. I know it doesn’t sound appetizing but I don’t know how else to describe it. I suggest looking them up on Google. Anyways, I’ve become addicted and I plan to open a franchise selling these things when I return to Canada. I don’t imagine they’re overly healthy so I try to steer towards a healthier sandwich choice instead. Once we get back from lunch it is usually time for coffee. Everyone drinks a lot of coffee here and now so do I. I never used to drink coffee, but now if some is made I always take some, and I take it black too. The only thing I hate about work is that damn hill. Going up that hill every morning is still the bane of my existence, plus since I’ve been carrying that laptop back and forth on my back it’s been even tougher. I figure a few more weeks and I’ll be in good enough shape that I won’t complain as much but until then, complain I will. At least it is downhill on the way home.

Last Thursday my roommates Simona and Nathalie introduced me to the Thursday night parties at Unitas. It is the same place I have lunch everyday. It happened that another roommate Emile was a DJ that night so we went to see him and enjoy a few drinks. What’s even funnier is that in the other room was another DJ playing CD’s and I knew him as well. It was Percy, a member of AIESEC I had met the week before. I had only been here a week and I show up at a party with the two prettiest girls in the place and I know both the DJ’s. Not a bad start I would say. Another roommate, Roel showed up later and we all had a good night of beers and dancing. When 2am rolled around I was expecting the place to shut down but the music kept going. I asked the girls when the place closed and they said 4am or 430am. WHOOOOA. It looks like I’m going to be pretty exausted tomorrow at work. Oh well, it’s my first party in the Netherlands, I may as well enjoy myself. So I did. It was about 5am by the time I rolled into bed and 2.5 hours later I was rolling out again getting ready for work. Luckily by the time I got to work I got my second wind and I didn’t really feel tired until late in the afternoon. By that time it was 4pm and my boss was handing out beers. Is this a great country or what?

On Saturday I found myself on a train with some AIESEC people heading across the country for 3 hours to visit the famous Keukenhof. It is this huge botanical garden which is known for its millions of tulips. It was a great first trip and I got the chance to meet some other trainees like me. I also got to go up in my first windmill which was cool. I had my video camera, my digital camera, and a ball cap with Canada written across it. I really looked like a tourist that day, and I guess I was. I got plenty of pictures which you can see in the Photos section and plenty of video that I hope to get onto my computer as soon as possible. After the Keukenhof we headed to the near by city of Lieden. It is a beautiful town with a canal right through the center where I saw many people cruising up and down in small boats. We checked out the outdoor market place and I was even talked into sampling some deep fried Cod. I never eat seafood but I promised myself that I would get the full Dutch experience while I was here, and you know what, it wasn’t that bad. We walked around a little more, checked out an old fort, and then made our way home. Over all, it was a pretty great day.

Believe it or not, Monday was a holiday so I had a long weekend. I didn’t do anything too exciting, just laundry and a walk in the park. If you like nature, you would love this town. There are lots of trees, canals, farms and animals all around. A good bike or walk around is an activity in itself. Tuesday I was back to work again. Things there are going well, and today I finally got my new desktop. That means that me and Scotty don’t have to drag that laptop around anymore. I also went back to City Hall with Kathelijn but found out that I had the wrong forms and would have to start over. Go figure. At least we got my room contract signed and paid for at student housing so that was progress. I got these new forms completed now and plan to take them back tomorrow. Someday the paper work will end.

Back at home I made Tacos for me and 4 other people in my corridor. I’m not used to cooking for others but everyone said they were good. I figured it was the least I could do since Adrienne cooked for us once and Nathalie at least three times now. We share the costs of the meals we make and just keep track of it on a chart and settle up at the end of the month. It seems to be a good system. Some evenings I watch a movie on tv and Emile is usually there to offer me a beer. We have a fully stocked beer fridge and just mark down how many we take on the sheet on the front. It’s nice to have a beer or two after work to relax some nights but it’s hard to remind Emile sometimes that I have to work the next day. He has already had to start a second column on the chart for this month. Other nights I find myself here in front of my computer uploading picture, talking on MSN, sending emails, or writing journals. Tomorrow is Friday and the weekend. I already have plans to go on an overnight trip with AIESEC to Utrect to hang out with the AIESEC group of that city. There will be sports during the day, dinner in the evening and a party that night. It sounds like a lot of fun and will be a good way to meet more people.

It’s hard for me to believe that two weeks have already come and gone. It seems that I have settled into a bit of a routine here already, but there is always something new to keep life interesting. I want everyone back home to know I miss you all like crazy but I’m also enjoying myself here as well. I’ve met lots of great people, and both my working and living situations are going great. Every day is a challenge for me but that is exactly what I was looking for. We will just have to see where that will take me next so stay tuned.
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Stranger in a Strange Land [May. 17th, 2005|10:24 pm]
AIESEC Halifax
andrewbyte
Even though I had finally reached my destination, now was not the time to rest. Oh no. Kathelijn suggested I should get myself a bike. It was pretty obvious on the way into town that bikes were a major mode of transportation. I had read that this was the case but I was in no way prepared for the extent that this rang true. Young children to old ladies were seen biking up and down the special streets that ran along the streets for cars. There were even special traffic lights specifically for bikers. The entire infrastructure of this country is geared towards the bicyclist. So hey, when in The Netherlands do as the Dutch do. However, I really wanted to take a shower before I did anything. I felt incredibly dirty after my trip and I’m sure I didn’t smell all that great either. Kathelijn suggested I grab a shower and she would go and buy me a bike. Sounded like a good plan.

So after what could have been the most needed shower in the history of the world, Kathelijn returned but without a bike. She thought it would be a better idea if I went down and picked out one myself. First order of business however was my empty stomach. It was time to buy some groceries. Kathelijn led me to the supermarket which is not too far from my building. I soon found that buying groceries would be a bit challenging. There were some familiar foods of course such as McCain French Fries which I spotted right away but many of the things I did not really recognize. I picked up a half loaf of bread which was easy enough but then went for some bananas. Kathelijn showed me how to operate the scale that I had to use whenever I was buying produce. Just put the item on the scale, hit the picture of the item on the panel, and hit BON and the machine would spit out a sticker with the price and a bar code for the scanner at the cash register. Different but not too complicated. I then headed to the meat section and picked up some sandwich meat. Not really sure what it was because I couldn’t read it but I tried not to worry about it. As we walked around I noticed that there were walls and walls of different kinds of yogurt. Dutch people really really like their yogurt. Yogurt in cartons, fruit flavored milk, yogurt desserts, yogurt everywhere. It was a bit of job just to find plain old milk for my cereal. Went into the dry food section and picked up some penne pasta and sauce which was easy but then went to buy a box of Cup of Soup and found it more difficult. I couldn’t really read the flavors but then I saw the word tomatte on one of them and settled for that. Picked up a frozen pizza and some Paprika flavored chips and decided I was good to go. Kathelijn grabbed me an old cardboard box to carry my groceries out with. I guess people are really big on reusing which is good. Went through the cash register and got the final total. I didn’t understand what she said but a quick look at the monitor told me how much I owed. I dug out the right amount of euros and we were on our way.

We got back to my place and were unpacking my groceries when I met the first of my new roommates, Roel. He helped me find some cupboard space for my food but then we had to take off again. We had to get me a bike. So we walked a few blocks to the house of this elderly gentleman who made a hobby out of fixing up old bikes. Nice guy, but I had no idea what he was saying the whole time. Luckily I had a translator with me. After a quick search I settled on an old red mountain bike. On the frame was the name Scott written in yellow letters. Scott just happens to be my middle name so it must have been destined to be. From then on I would refer to my trusty steed as Scotty. Maybe not out loud or to anyone in particular, but to me he would be Scotty. So after some seat adjustments, a new bike lock, and 85 euros we were heading back home.

Kathelijn had to be somewhere for 4pm so I said I would grab a bite at home and head over to the AIESEC office when I was done. She marked the place off on my map and I headed back upstairs. Upstairs I met a few more roommates including Adrienne, Natalie, Simona, and Hillebrand. They were all very nice and welcoming but I couldn’t stay long to get to know them. I wolfed down a banana and some chips headed back down stairs to where Scotty was chained up. Don’t want a precious machine like Scotty being carried away. So I hopped on and we were heading downtown. After a few wrong turns and some map checking, I more or less accidentally stumbled onto the AIESEC office. Inside I met Percy, Jesse, Rianne, and Cecile all of whom were very nice. I was told that the office got free international calls so I asked to call home and let everyone know I got in alright. All I got was voice mail but I left a message to let them know I made it ok.

I was then informed that there was a ceremony being held that evening to honor the veterans of WWII at a cemetery not far from town. So I decided to head home to rest before hand and would meet them all back here later. I was still confused by the street signs here so I got home after a few more wrong turns. I’m sure I would pick it up soon enough. I lay down for about an hour and then I was back up, back downstairs, back on my bike, and heading back to the AIESEC office again. Already this was more biking than I had done in years. Met a few more AIESEC members and we were all pedaling our way to the ceremony. It was a little frustrating because I found that the switch that would let me go into higher gear was broken. I couldn’t really go that fast. Everybody was passing us. I was like the slowest biker in the country. After awhile though we got to where we were going, chained up our bikes, and walked up the hill to a place where many people were gathered. I couldn’t see much but I could hear speeches being given, all of them in Dutch. Still it was pretty cool to see so many people, especially young people show up for something like this. It’s rare to see such a turn out back home. Once the ceremony was over we got back on our bikes and headed back to town. I managed to figure out a way to reach in around and switch the gears so I could go faster. I was now a speed demon. Well not really, but it was an improvement. The group decided to take the scenic route so I could get a look at the Rhine River. Sure sounds good, or at least it did right before it started to down pour. I’m not really sure how I even made it back because I couldn’t see a thing with the rain going into my eyes, moving my contact lens, and blurring my vision. However, make it we did to Rianne’s house where we all went upstairs, completely soaked, to have some hot coffee. We sat around for a few hours and talked about school, Canada, and Wageningen. I showed them some pictures on my camera and then my website on the computer. Soon though, the 30 straight hours of no sleep finally caught up with me and it was time to head home.

Laura was nice enough to bike with me to the AIESEC office since I knew how to get home from there. Or at least I thought I did. I guess things look a lot different in the dark. I soon found that I couldn’t remember where my turn was. Fortunately I could see my big tall building from a distance and just pointed the bike in that direction and pedaled on. I got to the parking lot, chained up my bike and went through the revolving door into the lobby. It looked like they had fixed the cracked window that I had noticed earlier that day. I went to the elevator and hit the button and was looking around when something occurred to me. This was not my building. The colors in this lobby are totally different, and the posters are all different, and of course they didn’t fix the window in the door. It’s not the same door. This is crazy. The buildings are absolutely identical on the outside. Even the place for the bikes and the little building out front was the same but it was definitely not mine. I went back out, unchained my bike and went out into the night to try again. I found a map on the back of a bus stop that said you are here. If I was reading this right I just had to follow this road to get to my building. So off I went, and before too long I was back in front of the AIESEC office, right where I had started. Alright, nobody panic. It’s 12am, I’m in a strange city, and I have no idea where I live, but hey let’s not lose our cool. I checked my map once again, picked a new heading and tried again. By this time my body hates me. My back aches, my legs are like lead, and I’ve been up for 32 hours straight. Suddenly I pass by the grocery store where I got groceries that day. This is it for sure. Around the corner I go and there is my building across the street. I chained up Scotty yet again and headed for the revolving door. There was the cracked window that made me sigh with relief. I was home.

I got ready for bed and fell asleep quickly knowing that tomorrow was The 5th of May Celebrations and would be another busy day. The important thing was that I had survived my first day in The Netherlands for the most part, unscathed. However it was certainly a day I would always remember. I could only look forward to what the next 364 days had in store.

To be continued…….
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The Road Less Traveled [May. 15th, 2005|10:23 pm]
AIESEC Halifax
andrewbyte
I think I woke up on Tuesday, May 3rd around 10:30 or 11am. Kenneth was heading to work again so we said our goodbyes and he left. I got up and headed to the bank to deposit some money, pick up some Dristan to fight this cold I had, and grab some Subway for lunch. I went back to the apartment, got all my stuff packed up again and was ready for my 12 hour or so journey.

I grabbed my luggage and carried it downstairs and down the block to the subway station, which is a lot harder by yourself I found out. I caught the west bound train and took it all the way to the end at Kipling. From there I dragged my stuff upstairs and caught the bus to the airport. It was hard to keep my luggage out of the way of the other passengers as they walked by. There was no where to put it except right there in the aisle. After a few minutes the bus brought me to Terminal 1 where I would have to check in. The place is pretty huge but the signs are very helpful and I quickly found my way, up all those escalators, to the international flight check in desk. Finally I could get rid of my luggage for awhile. Then I had to catch this shuttle bus across the airport to Terminal 3 where my gate was actually located. Not a problem. Followed the signs there as well and found my gate. I still had about an hour so I went to the restaurant and grabbed a yogurt and a juice. I found a seat in the waiting area, put in my headphones and waited until we were called for boarding.

On board I was seated in an aisle seat in the middle. Would have liked the window but at least I had a good view of the tiny television in the ceiling. Too bad they ended up playing Oceans 12, which I already saw and Nurse Betty which is one of my all time hated movies. I tried to catch some sleep but I had a wicked head ache and it is just too damn loud on a jet to get any rest. I could see out the window as the sun was setting and hours later over the Atlantic as it began to rise once again. A little over 7 hours later we were landing in Frankfurt Germany. As we were going down I got this incredible pain behind my left eye. I think it was my sinuses or something but it hurt like crazy and brought tears to my eyes. It lasted for like 5 minutes but began to subside the closer we got to ground. Flying with a cold is such a pain.

Anyways, I got into the airport at around 7am local time and things got a little trickier. Everything was in German. I suddenly remembered I don’t speak German. I wasn’t really sure where to go so I followed a group of what looked to be high school students on a school trip and they led me right to customs. Gave the guy at the desk my passport, he stamped it and I was on my way. Then I saw a sign that looked like a suitcase and an arrow so I hoped that it would lead me to baggage claim. Some long hallways, and a few escalators later it did.

Now that I had my luggage I just had to find the train station. I saw a sign that looked like a train pointing downstairs so off I went. Lugging all that luggage up and down stairs and escalators would prove to be quite challenging. Hey, maybe that’s where the word luggage comes from. I did get to the bottom though and approached the service desk at the train station to inquire how I would get to Arnhem, Netherlands. The guy told me that this was the regional train station and pointed me in the direction of the long distance trains. So more long corridors and more stairs and escalators later I found this huge area with a restaurant, service desks, and what looked to be a travel agent. I went to the service desk and told the guy I’m trying to get to Arnhem by train but I was not sure where to go. He told me I had to go down stairs to Platform 7. Wonderful, even more stairs. Once I got down there I saw some train tracks, and people boarding trains, schedules posted up, but no place to actually buy a ticket. Stupid me, the place to buy tickets must be back up stairs. By this time I was completely exhausted but up is where I had to go. Just my luck the escalator was not working so I had to climb. Sweating and out of breath I go into the place that I had first thought was a travel agent and found this was where I should buy tickets. It suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t have any Euros yet. I saw a bank machine outside the ticket office and went over and got 500 Euros. Surely that would do me for awhile. I went back to the office, bought a ticket, and headed back down stairs yet again. I crashed, completely exhausted on a bench and waited about an hour for my train to arrive. When it did I tried to find car 26 where I had a reservation but the door was not open. I hopped on 25 instead then made my way onto 26. It was a pain in the butt pulling my two suitcases through those narrow hallways and aisles but I finally made it to my seat. I settled in at about 9:20am, ready for my 3 hour train ride. I tried my best to stay up and watch the country side go by but I found my eyes kept closing and I just gave up. I’d see it later.

After a 20 minute delay in some town I never heard of I finally arrived in Arnhem. To my relief, just as I was stepping off I was greeted by Kathelijn from AIESEC. I gladly let her take one of my suitcases and she led me to the bus stop. We waited around for awhile, made some small talk for awhile about my trip, and finally the bus arrived. On the bus she gave me this black tote bag with some stuff in it. OH NO, more luggage. Just kidding. Inside was some traditional Dutch cookies with honey, some black licorice candy called dropmix, a map of Wageningen which would definitely come in handy, and an orange umbrella hat signed by all of AIESEC. I doubt I will wear it but it is opened up on top of my shelf for all to see.

The bus dropped us off not far from the huge 18 story building I would be living in. She led me to the 15th floor and gave me a key ring with a whole bunch of keys. After trying a few we found the one that opened the door to Corridor C. After a bit of hunting we then found room 5 which would be my room.

I had finally made it all the way here. It was a long tiring journey but I had finally reached my destination. Though of course that would only be the beginning. At that moment began my new life in a new continent, a new country, a new town. I had no idea what lay in store for me. I probably should have been nervous but at the time I think I was just too tired. That would just come later.

To be continued…….
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Every Great Journey Begins With a Single Step [May. 9th, 2005|10:21 pm]
AIESEC Halifax
andrewbyte
Keep in mind that I am writing this a little more than a week after the fact because I have had little access to the internet or a computer here in the Netherlands thus far. That will soon change since today is my first day of work and I should have access to a computer everyday now. However now I will try to go back in time to April 30th.

It took awhile but I finally got all my packing done late Saturday afternoon. It took a few tries actually. I ran out of room and had to take some stuff out and leave it behind to make room for the stuff I knew I would need. I took out my big heavy winter jacket for example. I hear that it rarely snows in the Netherlands so that was an easy sacrifice.

After I finished packing I got showered and dressed for the going away party we were having at my house. My whole family showed up which was really nice, and our neighbors Ken and Sharon, and my friends Mark and Larry. There was a ton of food like chicken pie, hot wings, lasagna, and salads. It was all really good. My nieces and nephews were all bugging me to play XBOX so I popped in an X-Men game and let them go at it. I tried to take some video of everybody but no one likes being on camera I guess. I did get a picture of each and everyone there and I will be sure to post them on the site shortly. Everyone wished me well and it was really nice to have everyone come.

After the party my friends Larry and Mark took me into Charlottetown for one last night on the town. We went to play pool for a couple hours. We are really bad at pool, though we were really good at sinking the white ball. Go figure. Mike, Steve, Kelly, and Lori met us at the pool hall and we made our way to Peakes for a night of drinking. There were a lot of people there for the first Saturday of the season. Met up with some more friends and drank the night away. At the end of the night Mark dropped me off at home at around 3am. I figure there was no point staying awake so sent some emails, and listened to music until about 4am. That’s when my parents got up to take me to the airport. I got ready, grabbed my luggage and we headed in at around 4:30am.

I checked at around 5:30am, and sat in the lounge for awhile with the folks. My sister Lori and her kids Niki and Hayden showed up to wait with us. I went through security as my family stood watching from the window. With one last look and wave goodbye I boarded the plane to Montreal. The flight was good, though I forgot how much of a head ache I get during take offs.

Once in Montreal it was pretty easy to find my connecting gate. I just went up and escalator and turned a corner and there it was. I just had to sit around for 30 min and wait for boarding. Toronto airport on the other airport was a million times larger. When I got off the plane I asked a guy at the gate where the baggage claim was and he pointed at a sign on the ceiling that said Arrivals. So I followed these signs through the terminal for what seemed like an eternity until I came to an escalator downstairs that said baggage. Once I picked up my two pieces of luggage I was relieved to see my friend Kenneth through the doors at the end of the corridor. When I went to meet him, I sighed with relief that I had made it this far on my own. Hey, that wasn’t so hard.

Kenneth and I got on a bus at 10:30am that took us down the busy highway into the city. We then got off the bus and boarded the subway which took us down town. We got off near his apartment at Bloor and Spadina and walked the rest of the way. We arrived at his apartment where I met his roommate Courtney. Then, although I was going on absolutely no sleep from the night before, the three of us went for a walk around the city. I saw Young St, and China Town, and Bay St, and bunch of other places. I took a picture of Much Music, City Hall and a far away shot of the CN Tower. We went to eat at Harvey’s in a mall but I found I was just too exhausted to even finish my Angus burger. Instead of walking back we hopped on the Subway and made our way back to the apartment where I finally crashed and slept for three hours until 6pm. When I awoke I was hungry and went and grabbed some Subway down on the street. The Chicken Bacon Ranch Wrap was phenomenal. The rest of the night was just spent relaxing watching Simpsons and Desperate Housewives. Yes I said it, Desperate Housewives.

The next morning Kenneth went to work, so I hopped on the subway alone and headed into town. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. The trains pretty much go in straight lines and you just get off to get a connecting train. It’s pretty simple really. Anyways, I went to meet AJ at the Pickle Barrel for lunch. I’m probably going to miss the big wedding this summer so I thought what better a pre-wedding gift than lunch with me before I go. I was starved so I got the ribs. They were pretty good too though half of it wound up on my face and eventually into my mountain high pile of napkins. Ribs are definitely not something you want to order when you’re out with a girl.

After lunch, AJ went to work and I went back to Kenneth’s for a few hours. Then at supper time I headed back onto the subway to meet up with Davin, my friend from University who is in Toronto working. I found his house and we headed to an Irish pub where I got some chicken fingers, fries and a couple of glasses of Rickards Red. It was good to see my old buddy Davin and talk about some of the old days back in school and some of the stuff we’ve been doing since and plan to do soon. After supper, we went to see Kung Fu Hustle which is a sub-titled kung fu comedy movie which was really much better than I expected it to be. Then we said our goodbyes and our good lucks and again I boarded the subway and headed back to Kenneth’s. Kenneth and I watched some South Park and then I went to bed to get some rest before my big trip. Tomorrow would be my last day in Canada for quite some time, however it’s weird. I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I probably should have been. I think that maybe I was just too tired from the last few days to feel much of anything. Perhaps it will hit me on the plane tomorrow. We will just have to see.

To be continued…….
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One Door Closes and Another One Opens [Apr. 20th, 2005|01:25 pm]
AIESEC Halifax
andrewbyte
Good news. It’s all fallen into place. Those who have been following my journals know that I’ve been waiting for this for quite awhile but now there is nothing left to do but board the plane.

Today is my last day of work. It always feels weird when I leave a job. One day you’re doing the same thing you did the day before and the day before that, and then suddenly you’re not. I had a good run here though. I learned quite a bit and got to hone my programming skills a bit, but now it’s time to move on to other things.

Tomorrow I’m heading to Halifax for a few days. I think it will be good. I haven’t been there since I made a short visit in August. It’s hard to believe that I moved back almost a year ago. Going to pick up my Visa on Thursday afternoon. Yes, it’s finally ready to go. I can’t believe it either. The rest of the weekend will be spent getting reacquainted with a few friends I still have in the city. Probably walk around down town, and maybe pick up a few items for the big trip. I’ll try to cram in as much as possible in the few days I’m there. I really miss Halifax.

When I get back on Sunday, I will have a whole week to prepare for my departure. I originally thought I would be leaving on the 26th, then on the 29th, but now the definite date will be May 1st. I bought and paid for the tickets and everything. No going back now. The flight is at 6:45am on a Sunday. If I go out on Saturday, what’s the point of going to bed? I’ll be heading to Toronto for a couple days, hopefully seeing a few friends that have moved up there, and then getting on another plane headed for Frankfurt on the afternoon of the 3rd. I should arrive in Frankfurt Germany at 7am on the 4th. Then it is a matter of taking a train from the airport to the city of Arnhem in the Netherlands. Some people from AIESEC will be picking me up there and will take me the rest of the way to Wageningen. I’m told I’m arriving at a good time because there is a big festival that starts in town on May 5th to celebrate the liberation of the country after WWII.

Now that it’s finally here I’m getting pretty excited, and a little nervous. This is a pretty big deal I think. Leaving everything behind for an entire year is a big step, and when I think about it like that, how can I not be nervous? However, I’m pretty confident that this will be a great experience for me in countless ways. It may be tough, it may be scary, but it’s something I just gotta do. Yeah, good pep talk I think.

I hope everyone who reads this keeps reading my future journals and looking at my future picture galleries. I’ll try to keep in touch with all of you as best I can but feel free to drop me a line anytime. I’m sure it will be good to get a word from home from time to time. If you can make out to my farewell tour next weekend, great!!! If not, I’ll see you all, in about a year. Bon Voyage!!!
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Nothing Like a Good Set Back to Make One More Determined [Apr. 7th, 2005|01:23 pm]
AIESEC Halifax
andrewbyte
Man, what a week. On day 15 of the “Awaiting Visa” marathon I get a call at work from home saying there is a courier package there for me. I have no idea what it could be. Then I got this email from the Consulate of the Netherlands saying that they sent all my stuff back because I don’t qualify for the Holiday Work Visa program since I have a job lined up. The program is for people to vacation for a year and the job is only to be secondary. That blows!!! Didn’t they get the letter I sent explaining the nature of the AIESEC program? Didn’t they see how little I would be getting paid over there? Didn’t they see that I’m leaving my good paying, cushy, gov’t, computer programming job so I could go? Doesn’t it seem to them that this is more for the cultural experience than for the job? Man, people suck sometimes.

Not to worry though, after a few stressful days of corresponding with my contact at AIESEC Netherlands, they contacted the Consulate themselves and explained the situation. It looks like the guy will approve my application this time. I just have to send it all over again. What a pain in the butt. This is pretty frustrating, but I can only imagine how frustrated they are over there. They were expecting me like weeks ago. Apparently the room I’ll be staying in is all ready for me on April 13th. I don’t think I will be there by then. It’s been tough, but I guess nothing worth doing is ever easy. Man, I’m so full of it sometimes. Just kidding, it’s been a rough week.

Aside from this, things at work are a little tense these days. Not so much for me but rather everyone else. The PEI budget comes down tonight, and it won’t be pretty. We have a $125 million deficit this year so there are going to be some major cuts. That will mean major lay offs. I have heard rumors that some people have already gotten the axe. I am not sure what this will mean for my family. I have a sister who works in this office too, but I think she is safe. Not sure what it might mean for seasonal workers like my brother and my father. People seem pretty uptight about it all. I’m not overly worried for myself, since I have plans to leave anyhow. If they laid me off, I’d probably be cool about it. Give me some time to get ready for my trip. For everyone else, it is much more stressful. Not just for employees but for all Islanders. It’ll mean fewer programs, less assistance, fewer jobs, less money being spent, and thus a weaker economy. It will be a difficult year for all in a time when things aren’t overly pleasant as it is.

I guess we can’t ever predict what the future may hold. Nothing is ever a guarantee, good or bad. The best we can do is ride out the storm as best we can and just be grateful if our boat stays afloat when all is said and done. (I gotta lay off the deep metaphors) So for now, it’s just back to waiting for my Visa all over again. I sure hope it won’t take nearly as long this time around but we’ll just have to wait and see.
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