Het Laatste Rit: My Final Hours in Amsterdam (Part 2)

Hannah McGrew
March 20, 2020

It had been my final day in Amsterdam, and I didn’t even know it.

I called my family, fighting tears, and imitated my most confident lawyer-like voice to logically convince them there was no need to leave. Even as the words came out, there was a part of me that knew they were false. Deep down, I knew I had to take the flight. Most of my roommates had already booked flights back and it would be worse to be the last one left, alone in an empty apartment.

Once I got off the phone, I broke down. There was so much more to see and do. Maybe this was just a really bad dream? I had tickets to go to Belgium tomorrow, and now I was supposed to get on a plane to go home? This couldn’t be happening. Just one more day in Amsterdam; it was all I needed to have some form of closure. However, I was the very last person to make that flight. I knew that it was time to go.

In the midst of the anger, sadness, and denial there was also a part of me that was undeniably grateful. Grateful to have a family that cared enough about my well-being to get me home safely. Grateful that they had the capability to have a team of 5 people working to find me a flight. Grateful that I was able to experience the ignorant bliss of a last day while they worked to find me a way home. In that sense, I am incredibly lucky and happy. The mixture of emotions that bombarded me in that moment are incomparable to any other moment of my life.

Once I pulled it together enough, I dragged myself to the kitchen where all of my roommates had gathered to come up with a plan for the night. Red-eyed and splotchy faced from the tears, I told them I couldn’t go out because I had to start packing to be at the airport early. Quite honestly, the thought of beginning to pack was not even feasible in my mind. I was still trying to wrap my head around everything, and I couldn’t fathom the idea of packing up my entire room.

Rather than going out as originally planned, my roommates stayed in to help me pack. We ate our favorite Dutch chocolate and blared uplifting music while we took turns folding things into my suitcase and laying out my outfit tomorrow. My heart was completely broken and full at the same time. I genuinely don’t know how I would’ve been able to get everything ready without them there.

Once I had everything in order, we just sat in my room listening to music, eating chocolate, and chatting about all of the experiences we’ve had thus far. We had messaged some of our other friends to come over and by the time everything was packed, many of my closest friends I had made sat in my room for the final night. It was one of the most bittersweet moments of my life.

It occurred to me that not even two months ago, all of these people had been complete strangers. I remembered us sitting awkwardly at the kitchen table that first night, trying to get to know each other and acclimate to a foreign country. Here we were, a month and a half later, where we had experienced so many life-changing moments together. At one of my lowest points, they were the people that I was able to lean on. They were able to make me feel so loved and supported in a hectic and difficult time. What could have been one of the worst nights of my life, is now remembered as the most bittersweet. That memory will stay with me forever.

Some things I learned during het laatste rit:

1) Strangers can become life-long friends in the span of a month and a half.

2) Tony’s chocolate is always a good idea when you’re sad.

3) I’d made a home in a new place in the world.

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Hannah McGrew

<p>Being from a small town in Michigan, I was always eager to get out and explore the world. Upon my graduation from high school, I was gifted with the opportunity to travel to Alaska which is where my insatiable desire to see the world truly began. At school, I’m studying Psychology, Business, and History—a reflection of my many interests! When I'm not studying, I love curling up with a book, teaching Gymnastics, and exploring wherever I'm at.</p>

2020 Spring
Home University:
Indiana University
Stevensville, MI
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