Time Flies

…when you’re having fun” 

Have I really been living in this gorgeous city for one month? It’s quiet shocking how quickly I adapted to my new lifestyle. In my previous post, I questioned how I would survive without my mother being in the same city, let alone same country, as me; might as well admit to you now that the second I pulled away from her embrace I started bawling. Might as well admit that I am a little teary eyed thinking back to that day because it definitely does not feel like I saw her 22 days ago (shoutouts to Viber, FaceTime & Facebook Messenger). Mom and Dad if you both are reading this (which I’m sure you will be) know that I do miss you daily…but I am actually managing and surviving here (shocking right?).

There is so much to be said about all that has happened these last few weeks, but I am not sure how to collect my thoughts. Let’s start with some accomplishments. Before heading off to Amsterdam, the most bicycle-friendly city, the only times I sat on a bicycle were for spin classes. Not only can I ride my bike around the city like a true Amsterdammer, meaning yelling at tourists on the bike path and all, I can bike from my home in Diemen to my campus and back without the use of my iPhone! Although these street names are very difficult to pronounce (at least with a dutch accent), I’m still able to recognize where I am and navigate all on my own. This may not sound like much but it is a big deal to me! And to follow up on that, my second favorite accomplishment would definitely be BIKING AROUND AMSTERDAM! If you know me personally, you would know that I never truly learned how to ride a bike until maybe two weeks before my flight. Today you can see me biking around Amsterdam with (some) grace, a smile (unless I am caught in a downpour) and a gleam in my eye!

After experiencing such a terrible first day, I guess it can be assumed that my expectations for Amsterdam were not very high; false. That giddy feeling that I remember during my flight still lingers. I am slowly getting into routine but here is a quick glimpse of how a typical week plays out:

  • Monday classes at 9-11, 11-1 and 3-5
  • Tuesday class at 11-1
  • Wednesday classes at 9-11 and 3-5
  • Thursday class at 3-5
  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday hanging around and exploring

Since my mother has left my weekends so far have consisted of visiting festivals and fairs that occur around Amsterdam as well as traveling.

In late august, two days before classes begun, I went on a day trip to Volendam, a fisherman’s village and Zaanse Schans,a  neighbourhood of Zaandam packed with windmills and traditional crafts, with the International Student Network (ISN) and even got Student of the Week for my enthusiasm while participating in a quiz about Volendam. Thanks again for that honor ISN, especially since it was only my second week as a Dutchie!

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Windmills of Zaanse Schans
Windmills of Zaanse Schans

Currently I am sitting in CREA Café trying to figure out what else to tell you lovely people. Maybe I can get a little selfish and talk about spending my 20th birthday in this new city! When I found out that ISN was holding a “Discover Holland” weekend trip to Maastricht, Epen and Valkenburg I knew that I had to get a ticket as soon as possible. Not only for the fact that I did not want to spend my birthday alone, but I have plans to explore as much of the Netherlands as possible before returning back to the states. This past weekend I got to experience my first hostel stay at “StayOkay” in Maastricht, which was actually so cool! It was a nice accommodation and super close to the city center. We had about 4 hours on Saturday to enjoy the nice weather and explore this cozy city. While in Maastricht, I had the opportunity to climb the very narrow-stepped tower of Sint Janskerk (St. John’s Church) and experience the city from up top! Maastricht is absolutely gorgeous and so cozy, I would definitely make the trip to visit the city again! Special thanks to Your Little Black Book; I now have more hotspots to check out when I visit again 🙂

View from the tower of Sint Janskerk
View from the tower of Sint Janskerk

The end of Saturday night was spent in Epen where the other students, ISN coordinators and I stayed in a group accommodation. I have stayed in rented houses with a giant group before (shout out Pesvebi’s pocono trips) but never have I ever been in a room with 15 other people for the night. It was quiet the hilarious experience. Before we all crawled into bed, there were obviously some last minute conversations going on and some girl was practically begging for us to just shut up and let her sleep. Oops! Hopefully she did not hate us too much. After the surprisingly comfortable nights sleep (I was on the top bunk), we had breakfast at Epen and then hopped back on the bus to see Valkenburg! In Valkenburg I was able to climb old castle ruins, have lunch in a cave, climb the Wilhelmina tower, and go sledding on the Netherland’s highest hill….I can not remember the exact number but the highest point in the Netherlands is 322.7 meters (1058.73 ft), which I am sure says a lot. Before we headed back to Amsterdam after an eventful weekend, we took a quick detour to “3-landen punt” which allowed us to be on the boarder of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands! I was in three countries at one time; how awesome is that? 😉 Ps. It’s the “3-landed punt” which is the highest point in all the Netherlands.

In the next few weeks I’ll be going to Groningen (Sept 19), Oktoberfest (Sept 24-26) and attending Amsterdam Music Festival (Oct 16-17) with some of my favorite people!!

Until next time,

Mar xx

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