Orientation, Bikes, Pancakes & Weird Windows

Orientation in Leiden took place over last weekend, so I met all of the people in all of the cohorts and the IR Heads from all of the campuses except Havana.  I will only see the people in my cohort in the coming months, unless we decide to visit cross-cohort when in neighboring countries.  It’s a diverse and interesting group of people. There are six of us going to London, Vienna, Bangkok, Havana, and Geneva in sequence plus one person joining us for London only before she heads off to join other cohorts.  We are 4 women and two men, with an age range from 22 to 51 years old.

Leiden is a beautiful city one train stop out of Amsterdam and a couple train stops outside The Hague. It is a typical Dutch city: windmills, canals, bicycles, tulips.

Canal in Leiden
Canal and windmill in Leiden
Well, the tulips were not blooming when I was there this time, but we stayed at the Golden Tulip, so it totally counts.  A note about the bike paths in the Netherlands — they are serious about their bicycling. Everyone owns a bike and rides it very fast. They will run you over.  Respect the bike path, and no one gets hurt.

My first view upon leaving the train station:  bike parking that filled this entire tunnel
My first view upon leaving the train station: bike parking that filled this entire tunnel
The street markets are great in the Netherlands, and you can try some of their specialties there. We tried meat pies and these adorable little pancakes the nice man makes right in front of you on a griddle before he slathers them with powdered sugar, butter and Nutella.  I highly recommend this experience.
The Poffertjes man, making my Dutch pancakes
The Poffertjes man, making my Dutch pancakes
An experience I could forgo: doorless showers. We get single rooms at each of the campuses, but for Orientation, we were assigned roommates. My roommate is a lovely young woman I met for the first time upon arriving late Friday night after an action-packed day in Iceland, Amsterdam and the train ride to Leiden. The design for the bathroom in our standard small hotel room was, let’s say, modern.  The toilet had a door, but the shower did not. The shower also sported a window into the rest of the sleeping area and two shower heads, just to make things extra confusing, I guess. Anyway, we each managed to achieve cleanliness with a minimum of awkwardness, but it seemed an appropriate “Welcome to Europe.”

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