Where did this week go? Slightly less hectic than the first, we have settled into our class routine, familiarised ourselves a bit more with beautiful Maastricht and gotten to know our fellow students better.
Monday 12 January, Day 10
And on that day, the Australian students rested. Monday was the chance to catch up on some much needed z's and knuckle down to study for our upcoming exam on Wednesday. A welcome break came in the evening, when we went to the local cinema for a private screening of the film Black Book, an incredible insight into the Dutch Resistance.
After further classes on Tuesday and suffering through the first exam, Wednesday night was highlighted by the traditional Dutch meal we enjoyed together.
Friday 16 January, Day 14
With yet another early start for this weekend's excursion, we headed out of Maastricht and our first stop was the Hague. At the International Criminal Court we listened to a talk on the mandate, structure and activities of the Court and the investigating procedures of the Office of the Prosecutor. We then attended a court hearing which was unfortunately a closed session and meant that we could see, but not hear, the proceedings. The case being heard at that time was against the Deputy President of Kenya. The ICC was followed by a tour through the International Court of the Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia. We received a fascinating lecture and viewed the courtroom, although there were no cases being heard at that time.
Later that afternoon we made it into Amsterdam, checked into our hotel and headed to the Anne Frank museum. This was a profound experience, walking through the house of the girl whose diary gave us an insight into the life of an ordinary girl in constant fear of discovery during World War II. Truly extraordinary.
Saturday 17 January, Day 15
Upon arriving at Dam Square to meet our guides for a walking tour, we were pleased to be part of "National Tulip Day," where 200,000 beautiful tulips were available for picking - if one was brave enough to face the line and crowd. This day marks the beginning of the tulip season.
With an energetic and enthusiastic tour guide we were taken through the red light district, along the canals, into the serene hideaway of the Beginjhof convent, past numerous coffeeshops and in general tried to avoid being hit by the constant stream of cyclists passing by!
After the walking tour we had free time to explore the many museums on offer such as the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh, Stedelijk and Heineken Experience.
Feeling cultured and ready to eat, Saturday night came and it was time for the long awaited Pannenkoekenboot, pancake, cruise. Having known about it for the past two weeks we were very determined to put the "all you can eat" to the test. Choosing from bacon, apple or plain pancakes and sweet or savoury toppings, three or four were easily consumed and we were very well satisfied! Apparently there was a "children's only" ball pit that we had intended to commandeer, unfortunately we were too wrapped up in the pancakes that we forgot to look for it.
Sunday 18 January, Day 16
After some free time in the morning, the group met at the famous I Amsterdam sign to join every other tourist braving the rain for a picture in front of the city icon.
With that last photo-op, we headed out of Amsterdam to Zaanse Schanse, which is a working community that dates back to the 18th Century. It shows what the town would have been like, filled with windmills and houses built in the typical Dutch style. We braved the elements for a visit of the Open Air Museum with a lovely old gentleman who showed us around.
Seeing the famous windmills was exciting and we learnt that they have different purposes such as the sawmill, paint mill (from which Vermeer and Rembrandt bought their supplies) and a spice mill which had some delicious aromas.
We were acquainted with all kinds of Dutch traditional crafts such as a cocoa lab, clog workshop and a cheese farm, at which we indulged in the many samples; goat's, cow's, pesto, garlic & herbs, coconut, chilli, you name it!
When it was time to board the bus, we were relieved to be out of the cold and rain and settled in for the bus ride back to Maastricht. As with our return from Brussels, there was a rush for showers, washing machines and driers before quietly settling in to recover from a great weekend.
Food of the Week: Stroopwaffles - delicious waffle biscuits with a chewy, caramel centre.
Drink of the Week: Hot Chocomel - heated up chocolate milk that is far superior to the Moove's and Oak's of Australia and served with cream on top.
Read more about my first week experience in Double Dutch: Maastrichtly Speaking
"This program was a fantastic way to learn a great deal of material in a short period of time. The people in your classes become like family and Granada has such a rich history and culture that there is always something to do..."
"The highlight of this program for me was the ability to live and learn with a great bunch of students, the cultural activities and the field trips to places such as Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley and the Amazon Jungle. AIM Overseas were helpful throughout the whole process and the staff at USIL went above and beyond to ensure we had an amazing experience"