Sunday, March 14, 2010

USA/Netherlands Soccer Game

March 3



I had known that the US was playing the Netherlands in a soccer friendly for a while now, but I wasn't sure if I was going to get to go or what all the details were.  In mid-February however, Evan and I found out that a bunch of the Americans here (doing their exchange through CES) got tickets and transportation to the game for them and we could go with them as long as there were empty spots.  So that's what we did and it worked out great.  Most of the Americans living in the guesthouse (along with a few Australians) all went to the game.  We dressed up in our red, white and blue, and had face-paint and tried as much as possible to be the cliche "rowdy American fans".  Will (a guy from Cleveland) made an all-American soundtrack to play on the busride up to Amsterdam.

The game itself was a lot of fun too.  Even though the quality of soccer was pretty poor (the US didn't play well at all), the environment of a soccer game in Europe is always fun.  I'm hoping that I'll get to go to a club-game sometime this semester.

Prague

Feb Wednesday, 17 - Sunday, 21



So while I knew that Nick was going to be in Prague the same time as me, and that I had a few friends currently studying there... I really didn't do enough to prepare for my going to Prague.  I traveled alone and luckily there was internet in the airport, where I could talk to my friends and ask for their address and phone numbers (otherwise I don't know what I would have done).

I spent my first two nights there with Steph Mellman in her apartment of 8.  I went out with those girls (and a few other kids in their program) just to a local bar.  It was a cool place that was a series of underground rooms with a mix of locals and other Americans there.

The next day (Thursday) was one of my bigger walking days in Prague.  The girls showed me where their school was and took me to the Lennon Wall.  They then just pointed me in the direction of the "touristic stuff" and wished me good luck.  I was fine on my own as I had a map and no real agenda as to when I needed to get home.  I walked a fair amount around Prague that day but unfortunately the weather wasn't very great and it started to drizzle on my way back.

Thursday night I went out with the girls as well, this time to a club.  I soon found out it was the most American place I had gone to since coming to Europe.  One just had to assume that everyone in the club was American... I didn't hear any languages other than English and actually ran into another friend I didn't know was studying in Prague.  (Apparently all the Americans in all the different study-abroad programs know exactly which place to go on Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights, so wherever they go it's flooded with all the other Americans in the city).

I got a late start walking around on Friday but managed to make it up to Prague castle, which was very pretty and cool in itself... but also had a great view of the city.  I then tried to visit the historical sites of the old Jewish quarter but everything was close by the time I got there.  Because of other friends coming in town to visit the girls that weekend, I ended up staying with Nick, his cousin, and another friend at the Marriott there.  It was great to stay in a nice hotel (opposed to hotels) and splitting it among 4 people wasn't very expensive at all.

On Friday night we went to the famous 5-Story club in Prague which was a lot of fun.  It's essentially 5 different clubs in one.  Each floor has its own dancefloors and DJs and lounge rooms and they all have their own theme.  It was a lot of fun and pretty international (as expected because it's kind of a tourist-spot).

Saturday day I just walked around Prague some more and went to any places I hadn't already been.  I love just walking around a new city -- putting the map away and getting purposefully lost just looking at the local people and architecture.  Prague is a really cool city and was my first taste of Eastern Europe so I wanted to make the most of it.

On Saturday night Nick's cousin (who studies in the Czech Republic) took us to a local club which I never would have known about otherwise.  It was a really cool underground club with only locals there.  The night we went was a cool time to go because there was a modeling photo-shoot at the club when we were there with beautiful girls walking out onto the dance floor in bikinis and a bunch of professional photographers too.

The night ended late as usual but I decided to get up early to go to the Jewish quarter and take an official tour of the area.

Prague was definitely a good trip and I'm a fan big of the city.

Carnival

Feb 12-16

Carnival is celebrated in various places around Europe and it's the last weekend/few days before Ash Wednesday (when everyone is supposed to be good).  Interestingly though, in the Netherlands, only the Southern region celebrates Carnival and the cities up North don't at all.

The festival was from Saturday to Tuesday and is really something different.  It's essentially Halloween for all ages, and you should replace candy with beer.  The locals get really into their costumes and must have spent a bunch of money on them.  We exchange students all had costumes that we mostly bought at a local costume store.  Although I didn't usually partake in the day-drinking it was fun to go downtown and see all of the locals getting rather drunk at 2 in the afternoon (every day of this festival).  There were just so many colors and music and bars everywhere.  It was definitely a fun time to be in Maastricht that most all of the other kids studying in Utrecht came down for the weekend.

Luckily, we had the entire week off for Carnival so I got to party on the weekend and beginning of the week, then planned a trip to Prague on the Wednesday --> Sunday of that week.