Five Days and Counting

Elisa Stern
January 19, 2016

I’ve gotten into the habit of googling the same things over and over again.

“What’s the weather today in Amsterdam?”

“What’s the time difference between California and Amsterdam?”

“What are the best restaurants near Uilenstede?”

“How much does it cost to rent a bike for 4 months in the Netherlands?”

See, at this point I’ve typed the same words into the search box enough times to know all the websites and answers I’m going to see. It’s about 40 degrees Fahrenheit this week, Amsterdam is 9 hours ahead of the West Coast, there are way too many good looking restaurants to choose from, and it costs about 20 pounds a month to rent a bike. And the thing is, I KNOW I know all that google can tell me at this point, but I can’t seem to stop searching the something, nothing, anything’s.

 All the googling is about to get pretty insignificant, though, because I get on a plane in 5 days. 5 days!? Part of me is convinced that there’s no way that can be right. I have a few more months, right? Whereas  the other part of me is ready to have be on that plane yesterday.

Not so surprisingly, the part of me that can’t believe it’s so soon seems to be the part in charge of packing. Why does that always seem to be the case? It dawned on me just this morning that I have no clue what I’ll need, aside from the usual clothing articles and school supplies (because after all, we are going with the purpose to go to school, right?) Do I pack things to cook for myself? Do I bring shampoo and laundry detergent with me, or rely on a foreign European brand? I’ve never lived anywhere but at home with a car and grocery-shopping, laundry-assisting parents,  or in a dorm with a cafeteria at my disposal, so cobblestone streets won’t be the only new daily experience I’m about to have.

Anyone who knows me knows that I grew up abroad, in Tokyo, Japan. Honestly sometimes calling it “abroad” still feels funny because having lived there for 11 years, sometimes the U.S. still feels more like “abroad” to me than Japan does. Tokyo is my home – it’s where I went to elementary, middle and high school. I’ve been privileged enough to grow up in a household where the importance of travelling, experiencing new cultures, and soaking up foreign customs is emphasized. So rationally, these next few months shouldn’t feel that daunting, right? Yet somehow I still feel like I’m diving in head first. It’ll be my first real experience living completely on my own, not to mention the first time I’ll be living in a country where I don’t speak the native language, surrounded by people I’ve never met before. Excited is an understatement. Nervous? Also probably an understatement.

There’s only so much googling one can do before they have to go experience the real thing. I’ve been looking forward to experiencing a very real Amsterdam since last January, when I decided it was where I wanted to go. I’m not really sure of too much, but one thing I am sure of is that it’s going to be an adventure.

Daar gaan we, daar gaan we.