Last month of my gap year!

The beginning of March, meant my last month here in Washington for my gap year. Back in November, I booked my flight home which will be on Sunday the 25th. A lot of people asked me why I am going straight home and not on some adventure during spring break. One reason is because of my luggage, I brought way too much stuff! And I just don’t see myself walking in some unknown city with three suitcases. My other reason is a bit more significant. Because I am an aunt now! My brother and his girlfriend got an adorable little girl just about one and a half week ago, called Mae. And I can’t wait to meet her as soon as possible! By now I only have ten more days. Better start prepping to pack up stuff in my room.

In the mean time I wasn’t going to let a single day fly by. So, the first weekend of this month was a busy one. That Saturday started with another hike I signed up for. We were going to Snoqualmie falls, which is a big waterfall not too far from here. It was a beautiful day, mainly because it was very sunny but also because it we did a lot in just one day. After we hiked from the top to the bottom of the waterfall, the bus drove us to a small train museum. Where we had about half hour to explore. But that was not all, because after that we were dropped off at the North bend outlet mall. There we had a sandwich from subway as lunch.

Collage 30 Snoqualmie falls

My friend Ayleen also went on the trip Saturday, but we both signed up for an ice-hockey event the next day too. So, it was the perfect opportunity to have a sleepover at her host family’s house. We watched some movies, painted with light using our cameras and made German kaiserschmarren the next day (comparable to crumbled pancakes). By then it was time to walk to the bus circle. Even though I already went to an ice hockey game back in December, it was awesome again! There are so many weird people there, kind of fascinating. And I still admire those ice hockey players for being able to ice skate while chasing a puck. Unfortunately the Seattle Thunderbirds lost, yet our night was great!

That following weekend John, who always comes on every Green River hiking event invited me and two friends to go on a little road trip to the beach with him and his wife. We drove about two hours to a town called Ocean Shores right next to the Pacific Ocean. Where, after we had a small lunch, we walked through sand dunes to get to the beach and sea. It was amazing! Afterwards he drove his car onto the beach. I had never done anything like that before, so it was quite the experience. He also made donuts in the sand, which kind of squeezed the three of us together in the back seat. We also flew with the kite that he brought before driving all the way back to Auburn. But we made a pit stop in between at a store called Costco. A huge store where they sell anything you can think of in giant sizes. Some say it’s more American than national parks!

Past Sunday me and some friends bought tickets for a baseball game. The Washington huskies versus Illinois state. Which took place at the university of Washington in Seattle. Yet again I had a wonderful day. The game lasted like three hours, but I loved it! Most of us bought some UW gear afterwards before heading to Pike place market where we ate some.

I realize I am all caught up with my blog! Next week I’ll write some about my last classes, finals week, packing adventures and more!


Snow at GRC!

After Valentine’s day it was time to celebrate Chinese new year. And of course the school organized this big Lunar new year party. I couldn’t go, but I heard it was really cool and that there were lots of performances. That same weekend was Presidents day, which meant we would have Monday off. Quite randomly I signed up to go rock climbing in an indoor hall in Tacoma with the rock climbing club! I took it easy, since my shoulder was still in pain, but I had fun after all and met a lot of new people!

I had to photograph an animal as assignment for my photography class. And since I still wanted to go to a zoo here, this was the perfect opportunity to go to the Woodland park zoo in Seattle. It was Sunday, so pretty quiet. Plus, it even started to snow! The animals must have looked at me like I was crazy trying to take pictures of them in such weather, but I had fun and it worked out fine.

Monday, I met up with Ayleen. It was beautiful weather, pretty cold but the sun was out. So we just walked some in the forest. We both like to take pictures and brought our cameras. Yet another relaxing day. Meantime, the Olympics had started. And I always love to see athletes from the Netherlands compete and win! So together with an international student advisor and a Korean girl we organized an Olympic global tea afternoon. We both gave a short presentation about how we celebrate the Olympics and there was food from both countries. It was really nice to eat some Dutch stuff again!

Two days later it started to snow really bad. Just like that, out of the blue! But I didn’t notice at first. I was in my room all afternoon with my shades closed when Ayleen texted me about it. And when I came outside, it was like a winter wonderland. I helped some people out who were trying to build a snowman and we soon started throwing snowballs. Later we had this huge snowball fight when even more cca residents joined. It was one of the most fun nights of my time here! The next morning I was awake before the sunrise, so I decided to walk into the forest and watch the sunrise at the viewing point. I walked through a lot of fresh snow and it felt magical! Even the campus was covered in white, so our morning classes got cancelled.

Collage 29 snow

By then, a busy February ended with our last ski trip. It was a lot colder than the previous times we went to Crystal Mountain. It was very foggy and we often couldn’t even see each other. Me, Ann-Sophie and Benita decided to take a more ‘woodsy’ slope through the trees. But it wasn’t exactly a well-maintained route. We often fell and since it had been snowing for days your ski’s would completely disappear into the fresh snow. This day also ended quite extraordinary. On our way home our bus broke down, while we were in the middle of nowhere. So we had to wait for a new bus to come and pick us up. Lots of people took Uber or similar. But I didn’t t have to be anywhere, so waited patiently. We left the resort at 5 and returned home by 9:30. And to be honest, I didn’t care at all. Yet another adventure with GRC, you could say!

Hiking, Seattle & Skiing

February was super busy! Kind of felt like October from fall quarter which was also filled with activities. It all started with advising day on the 1st. We had the day off from school, so I planned to go to the mall again since I had only been there once before. But before that I thought I’d check out everything that was going on in the student union. Where I eventually signed up for a career and assessment test, because I am still not sure what I want to do after my gap year here. Afterwards I went to the mall after all where I went shopping. I also ate lunch, which was probably worth as many calories you usually eat in a day. But you only live once! And it was really good!

That weekend I signed up to go hiking at point defiance park in Tacoma. It was beautiful and a different side of this area that I hadn’t yet discovered. We mostly walked alongside the beach and climbed over rocks to get back in the forest. In the afternoon we were dropped off at the Tacoma mall, where we got some time to eat and go shopping. It was a very relaxing day!

Collage 24

The following Tuesday we had another day off from school. A lot of schedules teachers made for the quarter were all messed up after this week and we had to do more in less time in some of my classes. But it all went just fine. In the meantime, I planned to see more of Seattle! I first went all the way up to the North part of the city to the University of Washington! I just walked around some and eventually found myself in the library. If you know it or ever seen a picture of it, it sure will remind you of Harry Potter. I wasn’t shot there or anything, but it does look like it. And I actually studied some as well since I had a pe test the next day. In the afternoon I took the light rail to Capitol Hill, which I thought was a really cool district east of downtown. I visited the biggest bookstore in Seattle, called Elliot bay bookstore and drank some awesome tea in this odd-looking café. And of course, I ended my day at Pike place market! My favorite spot in Seattle.

It was also time for the second ski trip. And yet again we had to wake up very early in the morning. But I think we were also pretty much the first ones on the mountain! It was a beautiful day and the sun was shining upon us all day long. Skiing went better this time too. Everything was perfect, until I fell towards the end of the day. Nothing serious, don’t worry! But my shoulder still hurts till this very day. We were on this terrible slope where there was almost no snow. We could even see the grass! So, the four of us each went down a different way we thought was safe and only one made it without falling. I rolled my way down and the skis of a friend of mine slipped into this ravine with a waterfall. Not very hilarious back then, but now as I look back on it it’s kind of funny to be honest.

Let me end this blog by writing how all my classes are going! Because I may write about all these events I things I do, but in the mean time I still have school of course. Criminal justice is interesting! Photography is probably the most awarding when it comes to my love for all the pictures I’ve been taken over time. My pe classes are going fine. And for Valentine’s day I wrote this intriguing poem in my journal for creative writing.

New quarter, new events!

Winter Quarter kicked off at Wednesday January 3rd. I had new subjects with a new schedule and new instructors. Back in November I was lucky enough to get into all the classes I wanted. Photography, criminal justice, creative writing and two sports, badminton and aerobic walking. So far, I really enjoy all those classes. I’ve already learned so much and we’re not finished yet. Like for creative writing I have to write all sorts of English poems. It was quite a challenge at first because I can’t make a decent poem in Dutch either. But it turned out to be a really cool thing. And for criminal justice a retired Washington state highway patrol officer came to speak in class. Which was super interesting! For a photography assignment I decided to walk over the campus, to get some good shots of that for myself as well. Which I did on a Sunday, so it wouldn’t be as crowded and awkward.

The campus life office also became active again after the break. In the second weekend of January they organized a snow tubing trip. We first drove about an hour west to the Snoqualmie ski area where most of us saw the first snow in the season. Some even saw snow for the first time in their life! They created this hill, where we could slide off with a big inflatable tube. Like the ones you see in water parks. Everything went smoothly and within two hours time we felt like kids again. It was a lot of fun!

The following weekend they organized a snowshoeing hike in the same snowy area. We would literally put on some sort of shoe beneath our regular footwear and tie it together with straps. This way we could walk in the snow without ‘sinking’. And it was really cool. Even though I have been in snow lots of times before, I had never done anything like this. Often after trips like these we would stop for food on our way back to school too.

After all of these events it was time for the first ski trip to a skiing area called Crystal Mountain. We left the campus very early in the morning, at like 6am, to get to the resort before most traffic. We quickly got our rental gear and hit the slopes. Because it was my first time skiing after two years, the fact that I didn’t have my own ski’s and the heavy snowfall the days before, it was really hard to get used to it all again. But we soon got to know the area. After a long day almost everyone slept on the bus ride back.

The weather for January was quite warm, but also rainy. Kind of the same as in the Netherlands actually. In the meantime, I skype home about once every week, mostly on Sundays. Which is nice to just talk about the past week and what’s ahead. Because at the moment I only have one more month left! Which is crazy! I’ve seen so many places and beautiful sites. And I’ve met people from all over! Let’s make the most of it, while I’m still here. Because I am not finished yet.