A Day Trip to Amsterdam

When your new coworker invites you on a trip to Amsterdam, you don’t refuse the offer.

Just over a week ago I left the city of Utrecht with Steph to explore one of the most popular cities in the world.

I had no idea what to expect from my first time in Amsterdam,  but I definitely saw the Netherlands in a new light. A red light, to be exact.

Besides a constant hum of cannabis in the air, another staple of Amsterdam is its Red Light District.

In the center of Amsterdam, a few of the main streets make up the Red Light District. Here, you can see sex shops on every corner, peep shows, and legalized prostitution.

As you stroll along the cobble stone streets, or count the endless amounts of bikes you see, you always have this eerie sense that someone is watching you – because someone is!

Since I only spent time in Amsterdam during the day, the Red Light District didn’t have a huge crowd like I had anticipated. Instead, it was mostly tourists, like myself, walking past half naked women who were posing on a stool and giving me sex eyes.

Can you say uncomfortable?

Throughout the entire day, I saw many closed curtains (indicating people were getting it on) but only one transaction. I’m glad I was able to witness Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District, and I can say it definitely made me think twice about legalized prostitution. – But we’ll get into that some other time.

In addition to the Red Light District, I filled my entire day with the most touristy activities possible.

First stop of the day: The Bulldog Coffeeshop.

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The Bulldog is the first coffeeshop in Amsterdam, and also where my home university found their inspiration for a mascot 😉 Shout out to my fellow Ferris Bulldogs!

While I did not partake in any questionable activities here, I did buy a hoodie and a lighter from the gift shop.

Second stop of the day: Heineken Experience.

Since I am still not of legal age in the States (five months to go!), this was the first brewery I toured. I learned during the tour that they no longer brew beer at this location, but the experience was still great.

For 18 euros, I was able to participate in a few interactive games, like rugby and football, drink a couple of beers, and learn how to pour the perfect Heineken. The bartender said mine was “approximately 90 percent perfect,” but he would still drink it. Cheers!

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Third stop of the day: I Amsterdam Sign.

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Above, you can see my sub-par modeling skills as I pose in the “d.”

I was overwhelmed with joy when I saw I amsterdam, because it made me realize how crazy my life really is right now.

I’m thousands of miles away from home, living in the Netherlands, and exploring cities I grew up reading about. Every day I get out of bed, walk along the canals, and enjoy this new adventure.

So yes, during my first trip to Amsterdam I was a tourist. I even used a selfie-stick. But it was one of my favorite days so far.

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Special thanks to my unofficial tour guide, Steph, and my new friend Nathan, for tagging along and putting up with my touristy antics. You’re the best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My First Week Abroad

Tomorrow will mark one week since I left the Mitten State and settled into a new life in The Netherlands.

After traveling for an entire day and landing in a foreign place, I made my way to the train station and realized how utterly alone I really was. – A pretty depressing start to this blog post, eh?

Once I finally retrieved my luggage from the dreadful baggage claim, I took the morning train from Amsterdam Schipol to Utrecht Centraal. As I hauled my luggage across both train stations, I looked around at the masses of people heading to work or starting their day, and I felt very small in this new city.

I cannot speak or read the Dutch language and I was naive to think I could easily navigate Utrecht after never having visited before. Public transportation is not common in the motor city and I can’t remember the last time I rode on a train or city bus. For the first time in my life, I experienced serious culture shock.

According to my best blogging friend, Wikipedia, culture shock is the feeling a person gets when they are in a new territory. I would say this feeling is hard to describe, but Wikipedia says individuals facing culture shock may have an overwhelming feeling of homesickness, experience a technology gap, and boredom. Wikipedia is correct in describing how I felt. Per usual.

Luckily for me, though, I wasn’t completely alone.

My new boss at the hostel met me at the train station and helped me get settled into my new home. I’m referring to this place as home, because after a few days of living at Stone Hostel, that’s exactly what this place is to me.

Maybe it’s because every person I have met here has worked in the hospitality business, or maybe my new coworkers and friends are just exceptionally awesome, but everyone has been so wonderful to me.

I experienced my first coffeeshop, went shopping at a European H&M, took a day trip to Amsterdam, and ate the all of the bitterballen I could get my hands on – all thanks to my new friends.

This past week has been crazy and exciting in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I have had conversations with people from all over the world, put myself in uncomfortable situations, and in the process I have gained a new outlook on life. I feel more relaxed and happy with my decision to come to Utrecht.

If this was only week one, I can’t imagine what is yet to come.

A Letter to Everyone I Love

Twenty-four hours from now I will be boarding a plane destined to land in Amsterdam, where I will be living for the next six months.

While six months may sound like a lifetime, I know time will fly and this entire experience will all just seem like a crazy, unbelievable dream.

I’m sure you are all feeling different emotions with my departure; some of you are worried about the distance and my safety, and some of you are excited for all of my new adventures. Most of you are somewhere in between, as am I.

Although I cannot assure you I won’t get into some shenanigans (I will most definitely), I can promise you all I will do my best to return in one piece.

This trip will change my entire life in ways I cannot even imagine yet, and I feel confident that studying abroad in the Netherlands will be the best decision I’ve made during my college career.

I plan to keep you all up to date through this blog on a weekly basis, so make sure to check here to see all of the fun (illegal) stuff I’m doing!

And to answer the question on everyone’s mind: YES! I am so nervous about this trip. I’m afraid of experiencing culture shock, traveling alone, and getting lost on the public transportation system.

But I’m mostly afraid of how much I’ll want to return back to my second home. I haven’t even arrived, and yet I already don’t want to leave.

Maybe this will change once July comes around, but I’m not so sure…

So in short, thank you to everyone who has supported me getting to this place. (And an extra shout out to you mom!) Whether you listened to me cry over the amount of paperwork I had to do, or gave me tips on traveling in Europe, all of your help has been appreciated.

I love you and I already miss you, but I’m excited to share this experience with you all.