30 Sept 2017

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KB Abroad: Caramel, Choir and Coping Abroad

Is it just me or has September flown by?! Not that I’m complaining because I do love October – a truly autumnal month, to be wrapped in warm jumpers, and of course more importantly, my birthday month.

September has been a period of adjustment and still I am getting used to life out here, but as the weeks go on, I’m loving it more and more. My singing lessons with my fabulous teacher are the highlight of my week and an absolute joy! Meeting more people, taking day trips, rehearsals and a short trip back to the UK to celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday. I’m quite exhausted to say the least but learning so much, musically and personally.

Firstly, I have a confession to make. September has seen me have a new food obsession – Stroopwafel. And to my hilarity, if you know The Great British Bake Off (and if you don’t then you should), Caramel Week involved these delightful Dutch delicacy. I say hilarity because earlier that day I had eaten four, yes, FOUR of them. They are possibly the most delicious thing I have tasted and I do everything in my willpower to stop eating my bodyweight in them – so far, I have failed.

Caramel Week - Noel Fieling + Stroopwafel = heaven

There are seven other Erasmus students studying at ArtEZ and this month we've all got to know each other quite a bit and (luckily) we all get on really well.  A few weeks ago we took a trip to Den Haag for the day, visited Mauritshuis where Vermeer’s famous painting ‘The Girl with the Pearl Earring’ is, looked around the parliament buildings, browsed the markets and wandered through the city. It's a beautiful city, with a huge beach too, so I was one happy gal. Tonight we are being cooked a typical German dish by Karin, but our next trip is hopefully going to be Berlin in a couple of weekends time and I can’t wait get back there!

Before leaving the UK, I had already booked a trip back to Manchester for a month after arriving. It was a good goal to aim for and definitely kept me motivated having a weekend to return to the UK and catch up with people. The main reason I was there was to celebrate Will’s birthday, which was supposed to be a surprise, but rather embarrassingly I failed on that front not once but twice. Yes, that is possible. (Note to self: Surprises don’t work if you are a bit of an air-head, or if your boyfriend works irregular hours…) Nonetheless it was a really fun weekend to relax and to also catch up with two of my closest friends who study there, who always help to keep me afloat! I feel very at home in Manchester, having lived there for two months in the summer, so I was a little concerned about how I would feel upon leaving the UK, but luckily I was distracted by an exciting project starting when I got back to the Netherlands.

CUE SEGUE What a coincidence! Yes, this segues rather nicely into mentioning an opportunity that I am extremely grateful to have been given. For musicians, an awful lot of exposure and opportunities come from being in the right place at the right time. My singing teacher here had told me about a choir that takes place in the Conservatorium which is run by Klaas Stok, a famous conductor in the Netherlands. This choir rehearses for the student Choral Conductors and they needed some extra singers. I happily went along and afterwards was asked if I would be interested in depping for a choral project that was coming up, to which I agreed. Having no idea what it was, (and assuming it would be amateur) when I was given the details and found out it was a professional choir I was daunted and humbled. The first rehearsal was on Monday evening and because I was so preoccupied worrying if I was good to enough to be there and whether I would keep up, I kind of distracted myself from readjusting to having just been in England. So tomorrow is my first of four concerts with Consensus Vocalis, doing a programme of Bach and I am really quite excited!

From time to time I have down days, but the highs are definitely outweighing the lows and that’s the best thing to remember moving forward. Living away from home is really hard but also very rewarding, so keep everything in perspective!

Catch ya soon pals,


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