by Elizabeth Venere
I’m writing to you lovely Atlas readers from my room at Kasteel Well, which is every bit a castle as I thought it would be. My room, located in the castle’s New Wing, sits on top of the archway out of the castle, and my window looks out on one of the castle’s courtyards. My roommate and I can see all activity here; it’s really the perfect place for people watching, according to Huber, the facilities manager. As he led the residents of the New Wing to the section I live in (all eight of us), he reminded us of this, smiled, and said he wanted all the details on who goes in and out.
This has been the majority of orientation weekend: getting to know our new surroundings and discovering its quirks (such as the perfect spying window). Many of us have spent any free time in our schedule exploring the castle and the village of Well, taking in our new surroundings. The people have been very welcoming, saying hello as we pass them on our way to and from town. They are becoming aware, just as we are, that this will be our home too, if only for a short period of time.
Some of us have even experienced the characteristic Dutch friendliness and openness. For example, two students saw trophies in the window of one home in the older section of Well. When they went to see what they were, the woman living there came out and told them she was a trophy maker, and proceeded to give them a tour of her home. Somehow I don’t think this happens very often in Boston, where most of us are too busy with our lives to notice things like this that surround us daily.
At the castle, this exploration has been very similar. We’ve been wandering the castle, discovering locked doorways and exercise rooms in the tower, not to mention a crumbling tower behind the main castle. Through this we’re starting to settle into our new home, one that will protect us from the ever-changing Dutch weather as we run from class to dinner and welcome us back after exciting but exhausting weekends of travel. Although I am very excited to travel to other European cities and countries, I definitely don’t want to miss out on what the castle and the Netherlands have to offer. I’m planning to stay a weekend or two here in order to make sure that I take advantage of what our host country has to offer, and make sure the castle is not just a pit stop between my travels, but also my home.
Hopefully in my next post I’ll update you on what has happened since our class trip to Amsterdam and the experiences some of us have had there.