I am about thirty days away from the end of my study abroad journey. Saying that just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. So let's not talk about it. I think this really sunk into me about a week ago when I realized I have been doing absolutely positively nothing during my free time. I built up a routine, which is only normal, but found myself watching Modern Family during my free days rather than exploring. You get tired traveling, studying, cooking, cleaning, and just plain living. Exploring used to be a regular part of my day but, for some strange reason, I got tired of exploring. Once I realized I only had a month left of this incredible once in a lifetime journey, I got my adventure on. Last Thursday, after class, I revisited my spontaneity and rode my bike to a different part of the city. This new part of the city is actually only about three minutes from my room so I am not sure how spontaneous I was, exactly. I parked my bike and started wandering through the Turkish market. I encountered intricately made fabrics, exotic foods, incense, and a whole lot of people. For the first time, in a while, I felt out of place and it felt good. I now know a new part of the city I forgot was there.
On Friday, I decided to keep my energy going and went on a kayaking day trip. A few of us found a small campsite just ten minutes away and rented cheap kayaks for a couple of hours. It was the perfect day filled with sun and blue skies. We paddled our way across the lake and into the sea. Although I got a lot wetter than I anticipated, it felt so amazing to be in the sun and feel the cool water against my finger tips. We paddled, but sometimes drifted, for about an hour until we landed on a small beach. Beaches in Amsterdam? Yes. And the sand felt like flour and I collected small shells just like I used to when I was little. Another hour and a blister on my thumb later, we came back ashore where we treated ourselves to a beer at the Windmill Brewery and a nice dinner. As if kayaking was not enough, King's Day was this weekend. This is, by far, the craziest holiday all year. It is a city-wide celebration of, you guessed it, the King's birthday. On every block there is a dj, parties, food vendors, people selling their personal items, and a lot of orange. The canals are packed with boats that are overflowing with people decked out in orange (see what I did there? Decked? On a boat? Okay, I'll stop). I am not much of a partier which made King's Day a tad bit daunting for me. I knew the crowds would get large and it may get somewhat overwhelming. So, a friend and I caught it at the later part of the day when things were still lively but just winding down a bit. We watched the people go under the canals on their party boats, got a beer, and danced our way through the crowded corners of the city.
As we were making our way back home, I could not help but gape at the most beautiful city I chose to live in. The canals were sparkling, the windmill next to our apartment was spinning, and the sun was setting on the sea. Confession time. I actually had no idea why I decided to study in Amsterdam. A friend told me to and I was feeling extra spontaneous the night I made my decision. As we were walking back, however, I had no idea how I could have chosen any other city.
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<p>Although I am a Kansas native, I can honestly say I have never witnessed a tornado, tended to the farm, or religiously watched The Wizard of Oz. I am a studious college student who enjoys going into the city and testing new ethnic restaurants or going to a symphony performance on the weekends. This explains why my phone primarily consists of photos of food porn and Kansas City architecture. I study international relations and Spanish, both of which offer me a different perspective to the world beyond the Midwest. I often find myself distracted walking to and from class because I hoard pinecones and insist on showing my friends the ones I come across. </p>