Getting ready for my flight...

 

View from my plane

 

It’s been just over two weeks since I left Australia for the first time and for the adventure of a lifetime. On the 31st of December, my parents and I drove from my hometown, Coffs Harbour to Brisbane and had a farewell dinner, celebrating New Year’s Eve and my overseas adventure all on the same night. The next morning, we drove to the airport 3 hours earlier than my 9AM flight, and for those next 3 hours I silently panicked. Wondering why a small-town girl like me, who has never travelled in her life, thought that a solo adventure was the perfect opportunity to go overseas for the first time. However, as soon as I set foot on that plane, my worries melted away and I was ready for these new memories.

 

I had a night’s layover in South Korea before journeying to Amsterdam, my plane landing late in the evening on the 2nd of January. There was a busy next day ahead of me but as I lay in my hotel room, barely keeping my eyes open from jetlag and sleep exhaustion, I couldn’t help but smile at the exciting times I could picture in my foreseeable future.

 

Hangin' out in Maastricht

 

From Amsterdam, I took a train the next day with 3 other girls also doing the Forensic Psychology program. 3 hours later, we were in Maastricht, where the official journey began. That weekend was a fun filled one, overflowing with Maastricht’s rich culture. We started with a visit to the Apostelhoeve winery, learning about the history of wine and how it’s made, as well as indulging in a bit of classic wine tasting. Next, we had a walkthrough tour of the city, followed by a guided tour of the underground caves of Maastricht. It amazed me how much history was in the walls of those tunnels, it was both fascinating to see and eye opening to say the least. A must see for anyone who travels to Maastricht for sure.

Apostelhoeve vines

Wine tasting at Apostelhoeve

 

Art of the Tunnel...

The week that followed began the studies. The program uses a problem-based learning system, which is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Such an active based way of learning has been a welcoming breath of fresh air. On that Thursday, we learnt our debate groups and our debate topics, from what I can tell it’s a very different way of debating than what I’m used to, so, I’m extremely excited to participate in that.

 

Maastricht street art

 

The weekend was our first culture trip to the Hague, Amsterdam and Zaandam. On the Friday we took a bus to the Hague and visited the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. It was a very confronting but extremely knowledgeable and fulfilling experience. After spending a night at the Ibis hotel and tasting the best Cuban sandwich and hot chocolate of my life, we took the bus to Amsterdam. Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling well enough to take the 2-hour walking tour, but there was no way I was missing the Anne Frank House for anything. It was quite a shocking thing to see in real life, I even ended up getting the diary of Anne Frank and her life after her diary, as well as a visual catalogue of the house itself. That whole weekend was an exceptionally eye-opening trip. The evening in Amsterdam was free and gave me a chance to explore a little and get an up close and personal view of the lively streets of the city. I found an Italian restaurant, recommended by TripAdvisor and may I say I was not disappointed. Best. Pasta. Ever.

 Touring the Hague!

Check out this giant clog at Zaanse Schans!

 

On Sunday, I walked around the city and saw the canals and the beauty of the city. In the afternoon, we visited the Zaanse Schans Open Air Museum, the most Dutch place in the Netherlands filled with windmills, clogs, cheese and antique houses. We were given a guided tour, we saw a live demonstration of a clog being made, we got to buy Dutch cheese – I got herbs and garlic because it reminded me of Italian food, delicious! I also saw a goat and met a cat named Edward.

 

And so that’s my adventure so far, I’m having the time of my life and the most unique experience. I’m excited for the next two weeks and look forward to telling you all about it!

Hey there! I’m Maddy, I’m 21 and from a little town in NSW called Coffs Harbour. I’m currently in my 3rd year of university, studying a bachelor of psychological science. In my spare time I love to watch movies, play with my cat, create art, and swim. This program has allowed me to experience overseas for the first time and I am beyond grateful for that chance.