The following is an excerpt from the sad, homesick blog post I wrote on my second night on my own in Amsterdam (I'll spare you the rest):
And then, when my homesickness peaked and I reached out to my old high school friends for familiarity, the fireworks started in perfect view of my window. I knew about SAIL 2015, a nautical festival that happens once every five years in Amsterdam. I knew about it but I forgot, and these fireworks honestly felt like a sign from the universe. The universe was telling me: "HEY, THIS
CITYIS INCREDIBLE. ALLOW YOURSELF TO FALL IN LOVE."
And so I will.
The past two weeks have been what my new roommate calls a tough learning curve. I've been jetlagged, lonely, homesick, and burnt out from meeting more new people than I will ever be able to remember, and every moment has been magic.
In the past two weeks, I have:
- Made friends from every continent
- Impressed a Russian girl with my amateur Russian phrases
- Failed to impress a Portuguese guy with my amateur pronunciation of his name
- Sang Basshunter with a Swede and Juanes with an Argentinian
- Canoed through the canals of Alkmaar
- Carried over 100 pounds of Dutch cheese on my shoulders (I had help)
- Bought a bike
- Promptly rode said bike into a parked car
- Booked my first non-Dutch European adventure (Oktoberfest, here I come!)
- Cooked! With tofu!
- Explained the Greek system to many confused non-Americans
- Sang karaoke in front of a full bar
- Not sucked at karaoke enough to merit a free drink
- Given correct directions to tourists
- Given incorrect directions to tourists
- Worn clogs without falling over
- Stood in and been in awe of a place called "The Garden Which is the Nearest to God"
- Discovered that I do not share Holland's obsession with mayonnaise on fries, but do share its love of poffertjes (tiny pancakes topped with confectionary sugar and nutella, also known as the reason I might never come home)
- Not been catcalled once
It's not that I don't miss home--I do. I miss familiarity, school, and my friend,s and it's only going to get worse as everyone returns to school and the #reunited snapchats flood in. When the homesickness gets bad, all it takes is a walk or bike ride around the city to remember that I am in an incredible place and that this is what I wanted.
I know it's only been two weeks, but I am already in love with the city of Amsterdam, with its unpredictable weather and unpronounceable street names. Even when I'm homesick, I can't imagine leaving this to go home. I can't imagine a city without canals, without rows of bikes lined up like cars, without cobblestone streets and where I won't accidentally stumble upon an open-air market at least twice a week. I am homesick not for home, but for the feeling of being home. I want to be myself a month from now, when the unfamiliar will no longer feel so overwhelming and home will mean Amsterdam.
As for now, I am so excited for my future.
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<p>Hallo! My name is Aniqa Raihan and I am a junior at the George Washington University majoring in international affairs. I'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>