A Year in Reflection

A year ago from today my mother dropped me off at the Windsor airport.

I held back my tears on the drive there, but ultimately began sobbing once I hugged my mom goodbye. It was the first time we would be so far apart for so long. I was terrified.

Now, when I think back to everything that I experienced when I was away, I can’t believe I was so terrified.

I watched the sun set from seven different countries over the course of 200 days.

I ate Belgian waffles in Belgium, and I fell in love with Kasteel Rouge.

I drank a Guinness in Dublin, and I sat on the edge of the Cliffs of Moher.

I saw the entirety of London from the London Eye, and posed for a typical tourist pic next to a red phone booth.

I toured the oldest castles in Wales, and watched the biggest rugby game of the year in a pub.

I tried banana beer in Germany, and walked the beautiful streets of Kleve.

I did my best to make zero eye-contact in the Red Light District, and I visited as many coffeeshops as possible in Amsterdam.

I went snorkeling every day in Malta, and I ate the best burgers from the Hot Shots burger van every night.

I cried tears of joy and tears of sadness when I landed in America.

After coming home, I finished my last semester at Ferris and I was a featured student at my commencement ceremony in December.

I spent my semester co-planning the Conversations on Race event on campus, and I tutored Umair, a Pakistani international student, in English. He passed his Michigan English test and I somehow managed to pass my exams.

I applied to the Peace Corps and was accepted as a Secondary Education English teacher in Mongolia, my country of choice!

This past year has been the best year of my life – so far – but I know the years ahead will be great too.

Below, you can watch the short video I made composed of pictures and videos from my time in Europe:

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.