Happy Monthiversary, Amsterdam!

Aniqa Raihan
September 17, 2015

Today marks a month since the start of my program, which means a month and a day since Amsterdam and I fell in love at first sight. It feels like a lifetime ago that I was back in New York, working 12-hour days to save up for the impossibly far away dream that was study abroad. Being here, having been here for a full month without even realizing it, reminds me that the difficult is rarely impossible and almost always worth it.

Several of my friends from home have recently reached out to hear about my experience, hoping that it will help them figure out if/where they should study abroad. To them, and to everyone else, I say: GO. It will be scary, it will be difficult, it will be lonely, but go. There is so much to learn about yourself and about this big, scary, sometimes lonely world that you inhabit. Learn to be by yourself. Learn to listen to people who do not share your worldview. Learn to expect disaster when you travel and to see the adventure in the chaos. At the end of your comfort zone lies the rest of the world.
Some updates since the last blog post:
My roommate and some friends and I biked from Amsterdam to a small town called Zaanse Schans, where we saw windmills and took pictures in giant clogs and ate a lot of chocolate. The town was beautiful and picturesque, but the best part was the hour-long ride there. Amsterdam is known for having a comprehensive system of bike paths; what I didn't realize is that the rest of Holland has them too. Biking between cities is safe and easy, and riding through the Dutch countryside with the wind rushing past you is a reward of its own. Fair warning: extensive bike riding may make your butt hurt.



Some friends and I took a day trip to Den Haag or The Hague, the seat of the Dutch government, also known as the international city of peace and justice. Beside the stellar bike paths mentioned above, Holland also has frequent and affordable train service between cities. For €7, we were able to see the Binnenhof (Dutch parliament building, also the oldest parliament building still in use in the world), the Peace Palace (home to the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Court of Justice, or an international affairs major's dream come true), and spend the entire afternoon continuously snacking and enjoying live music at a free food festival. If you are ever lucky enough to find yourself in this beautiful country, don't forget that it has more to offer than Amsterdam.


Tonight, I was able to snag last minute tickets to a Beirut concert that has been sold out for months. The show was held at Paradiso, a scenic church-turned-venue that is as beautiful as the music it plays host to. It's difficult to explain the cathartic value of a good show to someone who wasn't just there with you, but tonight was the kind of night when the weather is unexpectedly wonderful and everything sounds just a little more intense and you can't help but feel both alone with the music and together with all the people around you. I can't imagine a more perfect way to celebrate my first month in Amsterdam.



Happy monthiversary, Amsterdam! Here's to many more!


with love,


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Aniqa Raihan

<p>Hallo! My name is Aniqa Raihan and I am a junior at the George Washington University majoring in international affairs. I&#39;m hoping to take my international education beyond the classroom by spending a semester in the beautiful city of Amsterdam. Join me as I meet new people, explore new places, and hopefully, find my home away from home.</p>

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International Studies
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