August in Holland

A little less than a week ago, a small plane carried experienced and frazzled travelers alike into Schipol Airport, just southwest of Amsterdam. They undid seat belts and reached up from cramped seats, standing crooked first and then tall. I walked off that plane then, too, trying to grasp how here became there, there here.

It is an odd sensation – to be alone in a country that doesn’t know anything about you. Save for the exchanges at a coffee bar or currency exchange desk, your loudest voice becomes that narrator in your head. You move from the buzzing chaos of a renowned airport to the calming hum of a train. You watch Holland’s countryside stand still as you zoom by; the train crosses canals and passes lanes of bike traffic. You’re narrating the whole way. From the train station, and then right out onto the street of a new city. It’s like opening a book and getting to be the character who lifts up from the 2-D illustrations into life, and walks off the page into the real breathing world as it is.

I walked into Leiden, a historic city in South Holland. It is a spiderweb of cobblestone streets, wide canals, and tall, narrow, romantic buildings. It is a beautiful city, and while the weather is usually a bit chilly, I swear the sun has made an admirable and lengthy appearance everyday so far. The beauty of the city seems to give you energy to run on for the whole day.

The University of Leiden is the Netherlands’ oldest, founded in 1575, and it’s where I’ll be taking classes this semester. My here’s and there’s are still jumbled, I still wake up in the morning a little disoriented, and I’ve never felt a sharper separation from home. But there are new friends and facts and funny oddities everyday. I’ve read about the reason a man might go to the woods – this is sort of like that.

More to come, and I’ll be here for a few months if you’re in the neighborhood. Plus, I have a bike!

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10 responses to “August in Holland

  1. Jack Keenan

    Watched it for the first time tonight at a farewell party for Aidan.

    You should write travelogues.

    Nice party. Boo and Mike and me. First time that I had seen Ellie in quite a while. She sounds like she had a wonderful time. Grandpa Jack

  2. John Binder

    This is so great Cae! You have such a great voice in your reading. Hopefully you can copy / paste this for one of your homework assignments? Have a wonderful time and thank you for sharing. Email me your mailing address.

  3. MOM

    A blog is the greatest invention in the whole wide world, particularly this one.

  4. MOM

    A blog is the greatest invention in the whole wide world. Particularly this one.

  5. Trish

    Thanks to Bridget for sending the link to your wonderful blog!!!! Thanks for letting us share your adventures and observations. Looking forward to experience all the fun and excitement with you.

  6. Catherine

    So inspiring! Makes me want to pick up and travel. Kudos to you for taking the big step!

  7. Hayley

    In spite of the fact that you didn’t give me this link, I found it on Facebook thanks to Aidan! Very excited because now I don’t have to bother you for updates every second!

    Your writing is amazing. It’s so you and I love it! I didn’t do a blog while I was abroad and I really really regret it…so keep it up! Missing you like crazy xoxo

  8. ckann29

    hi everyone! i wish you could all fit in my suitcase! often i see/hear/experience something that makes me think of each one of you; know you’re always on my mind. and do send me a message or an email now and then… i’m eager to hear how you all are. – cae

  9. Bill Guarino

    Cae, what a great analogy (“like a pop-up in a book you are reading”)! For someone who strives to live a completely “planned” life (even on vacation), your writing gives me a reminder to be more courageous and go with the flow! Love, Uncle Bill

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