Good Morning Haarlem!

The smile on Dasha’s face this morning, when I handed her a to-go breakfast of raisin buns, croissant and a sadly lukewarm Starbucks latté was priceless! And totally worth the early trip to Schipol Airport. I am now back at Nienke’s flat and got myself to start writing this first blog entry; it was about time!

I arrived in Haarlem last Sunday and after a little holiday with my mom and brother, my mom dropped me at Nienke’s the next Saturday; I’ll be staying here until I can move to my own flat in the beginning of September. If things seem now to be quite easy, they haven’t always been.

When last May, paperwork and school related arrangements were about to be done I couldn’t feel otherwise than excited. Of course it is exciting to start over in a new city and I was finally going to reunite with a too often forgotten part of my culture (or blood to make it sound dramatic; my mom is 100% Dutch) and practice a language I have been mumbling since my early childhood. As it was already decided my mom, brother and I would get some holiday in North-Holland before I settle here, I had my transportation all covered; we would drive from France to Haarlem, so all I had left to do was find a place to stay.

I had decided to stay away from the organized Duwo flats (where all the exchange students usually live), for the simple reason I find them really expensive. Also I came to Holland to practice my Dutch so going local was a better option than sticking to the international places; school would already be in English. Well I would have never expected finding a flat in Haarlem would be so complicated, expensive and Dutch people so picky. To make a very long story short, after 2 months of unsuccessful flat searching my attitude towards the exchange changed from “Yeah, Holland, Holland, Holland!” to “I don’t want to go there anymore!”. Especially that I was having such a good time in Finland that the perspective of leaving my friends, band, flatmate, habits and very cherished room and flat behind felt terrible. No need to say that when I arrived in Haarlem a week ago without having a place to stay; I was feeling a bit down. Witnessing my despair my mother added some flat searching to the holiday program and surprisingly after 3 days of flat visiting along with camping and sight-seeing we managed to find really a cute place for me to spend my year here. So I can say it all turned out good in the end, as we even had some time left for family activities! 🙂

I woke at 7 this morning and without taking time for breakfast sneaked out Nienke’s flat (where I am temporarily staying). I hopped on my new-second hand purple “echte omafiets” and cycled to the center of Haarlem where I caught a bus to Schipol. My dear friend and classmate Dasha was landing this morning and I wanted to welcome her in Holland. After a short talk and redirecting her to the right train to Breda, I made my way back to Haarlem where I waited for the shops to open in a café on Grote Markt. I had a coffee, filled in a couple of postcards (it’s a fact I have been in Holland for a week but haven’t given much news to my friends.) and had another coffee. It was Monday morning, after the rain came the sun and Haarlem seemed to slowly wake…


As I failed to picture my coffee this morning, here’s a picture of my “omafiets” / granny bike taken just after I bought it, jeee!