Friday January 24, Home Base, Rotterdam, 3:11 PM Local Time
The second day of the a Integration Trip started nice and early, with many half dead eyes crowded around the breakfast table, questioning their decision of choosing food over sleep.
The first activity of the day was the "Desert Survival Challenge", in which we were given a list of items and had to rank them in order of importance if were to survive being stranded in the desert. Unfortunately the "Expert Score" did not take into account recreational cliff diving.
Afterward, we took the bus to a nearby town, where we were given GPS navigational devices that asked us trivia about the Netherlands and Erasmus University when we hit certain checkpoints. Up until this time, it had been relatively nice compared to the snowy, frostbite-prone weather back home. So, in a move of cocky Canadian-ness (how's that for an oxymoron?), I left my sweater, gloves, and toque back in Rotterdam. Fortunately, I did bring my (thinner) winter jacket with me, but learned the hard way that it really isn't waterproof.
Upon arriving back at the Stayokay, we prepared for the night's International Cabaret, in which each country was asked to showcase their culture through a short skit. As there were a lot of Canadian students, I was asked to help "host" the event, and provide witty banter and commentary between acts (both of which I am very much incapable of doing when under pressure and in the spotlight). Fortunately, my co-host was super funny, so I was able to just enjoy the ride (and attempt to hide my awkwardness). At the end of the show, our peers egged us on, saying that we needed to perform something too. I decided to sing an acapella rendition of Pasko na Sinta ko, a Filipino Christmas song.
Each performance at the Cabaret was amazing in its own way. Especially given that we had so little time to prepare, I was very impressed with the talent and humour showcased. It also further highlighted one of the most beautiful things about being on exchange: meeting, learning, and befriending people from all over the world. Within our group, there are so many countries, cultures, languages and personalities represented. I'm not only learning about Rotterdam, the Netherlands, or Europe, but about the world.
As the Integration Trip grew to a close, I found myself surrounded by a group of the most interesting, cultured, funniest, adventurous, and well-rounded people I know. I guess it takes a certain type of person to decide that they want to leave behind everything they know to and explore a brand new place. And this kind of person is the best kind to know :) It's funny to think that just a week ago, I arrived in Rotterdam lonely and slightly depressed. Now, I have an exchange family, and I'm so excited to spend the next six months learning everything I can from them, and making some memories!