Yesterday we were supposed to have an international tour of Utrecht, but no one turned up to guide us so in the end we just went by ourselves. The others looked at bikes and things, but I already had one. I bought a Miffy (Nijntje in Dutch) plate – the expense I think is lessened as I will use it a lot. She is one of my favourite cartoons/children’s character and the artist who made her is from Utrecht! I also got a flagon from the second-hand shop – they are much more impressive than charity shops at home.
I know my way to town now and where a few things are! We are improving. However it is annoying as I could have gone to Ikea with Myrte and her family instead of on the tour. I really need some things to fill up my massive room with, but hopefully other people are going tomorrow evening.
My dress up box came in useful for the “WTF” party (apparently Dutch students aren’t as equipped with such necessary items for student life). This means I had some stuff to lend the girls in my Unit, plus Linda and Reinder, who were cross dressing for the night. My family decided to go with the drawn on moustache look.
Last night we had “PJ Chill” plus Movie Night. It was fun and was a nice break from relentless partying. We watched The Illusionist and I didn’t fall asleep during it. This is impressive as my natural talent is falling asleep during movies when it’s the evening – even when I really want to watch the film! However, during the movie we realised our Intro Week coins did not work any more, so that was a waste of €1, but I did get a free beer yesterday so it evens out.
Here a beer is not the same as a pint at home. First of all, the measurement, it’s not just that it is metric, so you would expect a half-litre of beer as equivalent to a pint. No, a beer is 20cl which is so much smaller. Plus they have a thing for head on their beer which I don’t understand. I mean you want a tiny bit but here they go for about 5cm, sometimes more. More annoyingly when you say this is too much they think its fine. If it was the UK you’d get massacred for that kind of thing! So beer is €1 per 20cl glass, not €1 for a pint like I thought it would be – but €1 is still good.
Today I finished unpacking, finally, and the posters are up, but this leaves me a little bored now. At 3pm there was a ‘cultural’ food thing in dining hall, it wasn’t very international, just normal things you can buy in a shop. They did say it was the first time they’d held the event, so it’s understandable. The weekends are odd as everyone goes home (at least the Dutch do) and I never would at Exeter. So campus is pretty empty, but as the weeks go on hopefully this will lessen.
This is the end of intro week and the family system and so I will give my opinion on it as promised. I actually think it is a really good system. Once you get past the awkwardness of calling someone younger than you “mum” and “dad”, you really get into it. It’s nice to have a group of people to do activities with, unlike at Exeter where you make your own plan based on what all the societies (committees) have to offer.
The activities though are more diverse at Exeter, as you would expect – I especially enjoyed the day surfing and a BBQ that surf club provided. The ones they offer here are fun though and I enjoyed all of them. However the task to make a flag for your family, and which the aim was to steal other’s (the family with the most then won a prize) did get a bit out of hand. A mum of another family bit Anneke (from my family) on the hand, when she was trying to steal their flag. The mum did tie it around her bra though so what would you expect would happen!
Since the activities here are set up by the UCSA (University College Student Association), the equivalent of the Students Guild for Exeter and Student Union for other universities, you never get to see what the societies are about. This is a downside for them as they will only get members if people know they want to join. That is fine if you are a hockey player or want to work on the Student newspaper, but less well know societies like Exeter’s Ultimate Frisbee and Scouts and Guides would suffer if they didn’t have the option to throw taster sessions.
However if you don’t get on with your halls/unit in Exeter, as I didn’t, you don’t have anyone to go to these tasters with, and so your options are actually much slimmer. The family system stops this as it gives you a second basis for creating friends if you’re unit does not turn out to be that great.
On the other hand, it does prevent you from getting to know the people who you will spend most of your time around, i.e. your unit. There is a “Unity Week” later in the term so that should clear this up. A downside is that on a day like this when there is no time set to meet your family for breakfast, you feel a bit lonely so perhaps the whole family thing was a little fake. Some families, I am told, work out well and they have regular ‘family reunions’ but others never meet again which is a little sad. I hope mine will.
In summary I think the family system would be better than the current system at Exeter and other UK universities, as long as the societies could still having taster sessions so you can check them out too.