Sixty-one days went by, sixty-one days to go before traveling back to the Netherlands. After a relatively rough start I am pretty settled now in Pittsburgh. I’ve made some friends and have gotten used to some of the American peculiarities. Although, I can’t appreciate everything about the United States, there are certainly things we Dutch can learn from. As someone on a bus remarked to me: “people keep coming here, so we must be doing something right …”
Carnegie Mellon University is pretty nice, in terms of bright people, decent facilities and the overall atmosphere. There always seem to be things to do and there are also always people around, even during the weekends. They aren’t kidding when they say the American work ethos is “all work and no play”, although the two aren’t, and shouldn’t, be mutually exclusive in my view.
I didn’t expect Pittsburgh to be quite as big as it is. Although it is a medium-sized city for American standards, the distances are huge and places to go to are spread out. People here are generally friendly, also service personnel. For example, people in banks and shops tend to be warm and helpful without their behaviour feeling contrived. I can’t put my finger on it, but they have perfected the art of making you feel good and special.
Do I still feel nostalgic? Well somewhat, I still miss my friends and family, quality Dutch cheese, and normal sized food portions. But as mentioned before: I’ve also grown to appreciate some of the American ways. As predicted experiences like this change you in profound ways. And while the clock might be ticking, I am not done changing just yet.