Arif's Exchange Log
Netherlands or Bust!!!!
I was on the place to Europe, thinking about what to expect. Are people going to be nice? Are the courses going to be difficult? Will I feel fulfilled without 3 cases a day?
I got off the plane at London Heathrow airport with 4 hours until my flight to Amsterdam, which was on a small discount airline. So I went to ask at the ticket counter, if they would put me on an earlier flight. The young guy in the blue vest said “No, that is not in our policy.” I guess he did not take a Marketing class that says the customer is always right!!! So, I decided to eat some lunch and read my book. After about an hour, I felt kind of tired. Naturally, I lied down across three plastic seats. I was having a nice, relaxing dream about school life outside Ivey. Suddenly, I woke up and started to run to my get only to realize that I missed my flight. The ironic thing is that I had to explain my situation to the same clerk that had refused to change my ticket four hours earlier.
Anyways, this is what I have learned in the first few weeks of being on exchange:
• People love to ride bikes, even if they are twenty years old.
• Shops in the Red Light District do not accept Canadian currency.
• There is at least one East Indian spice store in Netherlands.
• In Paris, hold your breath on the train, it smells like a gym locker room.
Netherlands or Bust - Part II
I am about half way through my exchange program. Time has flown by. What can I say about my Europe experience so far? Everyone drinks beer. The women are beautiful. Everything is expensive.
Rotterdam is about the same size of London and is also a University town. The MBA program here is very intensive with many papers and lots of groupwork. The students are from all over the world (Germany, France, Japan, Norway, Australia, India, China, US). When we are not out drinking, the main past time is playing the boardgame Risk until the early hours of the morning (for those who have played it know what I mean).
I have visited many places so far. My first trip was to Belgium, which I knew nothing about. Brussels is the capital and the location of the HQ of the European Union. It is Ok, it has some big churches. About an hour away, there is a small town called Bruges that is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. The buildings are very old and stunning, not to mention the cobblestone pathways and the river flowing around the town. But the best thing of the place is the chocolate, it is AWESOME!!! Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, crème-filled chocolate, chocolate with nuts….I don’t think I can go back to eating ordinary chocolate bars, such as Heresy’s or Dairymilk.
My second trip was to Amsterdam. It was kinda cool seeing the Red Light district with the women in the window. They are not as beautiful as you think they would be. They look like Za Za Gabor in lace. The smell of marijuana is in the air, similar to the scent of the apartment hallways of London. I also had a chance to visit a coffee shop. Bad Experience. Don’t want to talk about it.
Next stop Paris, the city of romance. Notre Dame is beautiful church with it domes and artistic glass windows. The food was very tasty, especially considering the food in Holland tastes like cardboard. The Eiffel tower is huge and I overwhelming at night when it was illuminated with flashing lights. I also visited the Louver. It was enormous and lots of fun.
In early October, I went to Munich for Oktoberfest, which is supposed to the best place to party. My friend was feeling tired, so I had to drive his car. It was Toyota Starlet which is the midget version of the Tercel. The highways (Autobahn) in Germany do not have speed limits, except for certain areas with construction where the maximum is 130km/h. I was pushing about 170 when my eye started to twitch. Suddenly, my left contact lens fell out. I ended up driving for about 40 minutes on the narrow lanes with many trucks surrounding while squinting with one eye until I reached the next gas station.
We finally arrived to the hotel about 7am since we had class the evening before. We checked in and went to sleep. After about 90 minutes, it was time to get up. We got dressed and took a cab to the beer gardens because we had to be there by 9 am. The next 12 hours were filled with drinking large mugs of beer, dancing on the tables with women in Bavarian outfits and eating large pretzels. It seemed like a constant drunken euphoria.
Then next day after showering and changing out my beer soaked clothes. We went back to the party tents, but I did not want to see another beer again. So I went sight seeing. I visited the Olympic Stadium and the BMW museum (very cool). Then I went to the Deutsches Museum which is the world’s best science and technology museum. It was awesome. Exhibits included from airplanes, tunnel construction, railway, bridge construction, and much more. This is a must see, especially for the engineer types.
This has been recap of my exchange in Netherlands. I must say that it has been an eye opening experience. I hope all is well at Ivey.
Netherlands or Bust - Part III
About a month ago, I went to play soccer with some of my classmates. I took my camera along to take some pictures. After playing, my friend, Meredith who is on exchange from UBC, came over for some dinner and wanted to see the pictures. As I was flipping through the images, there was one of a bare ass on my camera. I was so embarrassed since I could not explain how it got there. But later, I realized that someone must have taken the picture while I was playing. To identify the person, I created a poster with pictures of students that were at the scene. (See attached). No one messes with Arif.
A week later, the school took all the MBA students on a boat cruise around the harbor for dinner. This was very nice to see the other side of Rotterdam while downing many glasses of wine.
My girlfriend, Salma, came from Calgary to visit me in October. A couple of her other friends joined her to travel of Europe also. First stop – Belgium. During the day we pigged out on the awesome chocolates. We ate dinner in Bruges, the small fairy tale like town. Mussels are the specialty in the region and they did not disappoint.
Next stop – Paris. On our way to the hotel, Salma was carrying a bag that contained of chocolates, which she bought for her friends and coworkers worth about 25 Euros, and few Belgian ‘Monk’ beers of mine. She got tired so she gave the bag to me. Being the MBA student that can think ‘outside the box’, I hooked the bag on to my rolling luggage. About two minutes later when I stopped to take a break, my luggage fell backwards from the weight of the beer, which shattered within the bag. Damn Gravity!!! Let’s just say the first evening in Paris was not as romantic as I expected.
The next day, I took Salma up the Eiffel tower. It was very nice and you can see all the sights of the city. One unusual thing I noticed was that in their donair kabob pitas they put a pile of fries, unlike those on Richmond Street after a night of binge drinking. The food was awesome and the wine was cheaper than bottled water, so I ended up getting tipsy often. French waiters are usually older men since it is considered a career versus just for young teens to earn money for school like in Canada. They are grumpy and very slow, which makes dinner usually take over 2 hours.
Last stop – Amsterdam. We stayed at the Bulldog Hotel, a chain known for their famous ‘cafes’. Before we went out for the night, Salma went to take a shower and I left to grab some food. I strolled along the red light district and about 20 minutes later, I returned with a couple slices of pizza. As I approached the room, I noticed a pool of water built up in the hallway just outside my door. Salma let me in to room with the carpet absolutely soaked. She said that shower drain was plugged and it flowed into the bedroom. I tried to calm her down and gave her pizza to help distract her attention from the dilemma. The hotel manager said they did not have any other vacant rooms so they ended putting us up in an apartment that is used for clients who stay for long terms. This place was huge with nice living room and kitchen. I guess this was silver lining in the situation, but then Salma was feeling sick. Salma’s doctor told her to limit the cheese she eats at night. Of course, I forget this while I was standing in the puddle of water in the hotel room.
After a couple of hours, we walked around went to a pub to get something to eat. The waitress said that they had a bobbing for apples for shots by the bar. This was a challenge I could not resist. It was not an easy task because the apple sinks as I tried to bite it. But after a few attempts, I succeeded. The next day, Salma left for home.
In early November, I went to museum night in Amsterdam with Greg Worsnop, Meredith. For one price, we were able to visit any museum until 2am. We visited the Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum, which the home of Rembrandt’s Watchman. Our last stop was the Anne Frank house, where a Jewish family hid in their attic for over two years to avoid the Nazi regime.
Last week, I went to Spain. This is the best place in the world. Nice weather (18˚), tasty food, and beautiful women; what else do I need? In Barcelona, I went to the Picasso museum and the chocolate museum, which showed the history of this delicious sweet. I also went to an Aquarium where I saw sharks through a large glass tunnel and petted a sting ray.
The next day, I went to Madrid. The Palais Real, which was huge palace with priceless artifacts and tapestries. I also went to oldest restaurant in the world, which was established in 1725 (according to Guinness World Book of Records). I ate a tasty half chicken casserole, which was baked in the original stone oven. Even though about eighty people were seated while I was there; at least 200 customers were turned away since them did not have reservations. For you are considering a trip to Europe, make sure that Spain is on the top of the list, Trust me.
Only about a month left on my exchange. I am looking forward to coming back to Canada and getting some much needed rest. This Rotterdam program is very intensive with lot group work and assignments.