A month ago, I’d never set a foot in Zwolle.
Six months ago, I’d never heard of Zwolle.
Last week, I came home to Zwolle.
On Thursday afternoon, our International Business group of eight left the train station for our first excursion to Delft, a town southwest of Zwolle. Besides getting tours of two businesses, we also had a chance to get a small tour and explore Delft. It had more canals and bridges throughout the inner city than Zwolle, and but less curving streets. The city center was a big square with two big churches facing each other—one of them has the second highest tower in the Netherlands.
On Saturday, at 6:15 in the morning, we left our hole-in-the-wall hostel and walked to an empty parking lot with a little sign that said, “Flixbus.” After a bit of waiting (in the very freezing cold, although probably not as freezing as Iowa), we stepped onto a bus headed for Brussels, Belgium for a weekend of exploring. Huge snowflakes were falling as we exited, and my first impression of Brussels was BIG: we were in the newer industrial part of the city, surrounded by skyscrapers. Even when we moved to the older areas, all the buildings were just big. Beyond getting waffles and chocolate, we didn’t have any plans, so we literally could not make a wrong choice on where to go. We just went down whatever streets looked the most interesting! And we found LOTS of waffles, the Royal Palace, chocolate, churches with organs and flying buttresses, a man making huge bubbles in the square, mussels, a park with a pavilion and statutes of scared looking lions, and fries—the best fries I have had yet, in fact.
On Sunday evening, just after dinner, we stepped onto another bus going back to Amsterdam. In Amsterdam, we got on the first of three trains leading back to Zwolle. In Zwolle, we unlocked our bikes, said goodnight, pedaled home, and flopped onto our own beds. I thought about how nice it was to be home as I switched off my light and buried my face into the fuzzy pink blanket my host mom got me a couple weeks ago.
On Monday, I did homework all day and ate dinner with my host family (and my heart melted when my three-year-old host brother exclaimed my name as he walked in and saw me). On Tuesday, I went to school and realized how much I had missed the people who weren’t in International Business.
And just like that, life is back to normal and I’m back home, here in Zwolle.