This week I participated in my fourth orientation week as a university student. Spending my last few years as a leader, it was exciting to be back as a froshie, or children, as we were called here. It was a wild week filled with awesome activities that let us all meet people from around the world and get comfortable in our new city of Utrecht. While I don’t have space to tell you about the whole week, I do want to highlight a few of my favourite activities:
Each international student was put into a group with about 10 other internationals, called the children. Each group had two parents – Dutch or international students who had lived in Utrecht for at least a semester. My dad was from the Czech Republic and my mom from Spain. It was ironic because they were both 18 and younger than all their children.
Our first activity of the week was meeting at one of our parent’s house for dinner. There’s almost no better way to get to know someone than over dinner, so this was the perfect way to break the ice for the group. Our mom, Lina, made spaghetti carbonara, and although she poured in balsamic vinegar instead of olive oil, it tasted pretty good! It was a very relaxing evening as we sat around the table chatting, joking and bonding as a team.
Battle of the Groups: Part 1
While the week was about making friends, it was also a competition, with two nights of challenges as the groups competed for prizes. The first night we filed into a pub and sat at long picnic tables with our team. There was a small stage up front where multiple challenges would take place and each group member had to partake in one. The challenges were fun to try and hilarious for the audience. There was blindfolded food tasting, a relay where you had to carry a cucumber (that kept being cut in half) between your legs across the stage and back, a battle where you had a balloon tied to your leg and had to protect it while trying to pop others’, and more.
On the final night, each person was responsible for cooking a dish from their home country and bringing it for dinner. I decided to make poutine (is there really any other Canadian dish?), which was a hit, although it did take some convincing to get people to try it (poutine doesn’t exactly look very appetizing unless you know how it tastes). This was a great event, especially for a slightly picky eater like myself, as it forced me to broaden my horizons and taste new food. I tried a Spanish potato pie, Elvis Presley’s favourite sandwich (peanut butter, banana and bacon), Dutch pea and sausage soup, a cracker and fish sandwich, and a dozen other foods that I don’t know the names of.
Battle of the Groups: Part 2
After the International Kitchen it was time for the second round of challenges, and we were back with a vengeance. We set a record in the Nail Pooping challenge – where you had a string tied around your waist from which a nail hung down, which you had to place in a wine bottle – with 25 nails. We also had the greatest comeback in the history of Sack Race Relays, where two teams competed, sending one person at a time to hop across the room in a sack and back. Halfway through the race one of our girls fell, but through sheer will and determination we managed to claw our way back and win by a nose. I’m told they’ll be talking about it for years to come.
Unfortunately a few losses in Musical Chairs and Tug of War knocked us back and we didn’t win the overall prize. But it’s ok because we all got wonderful Valentine’s Day cards from our Dad.