Reflections and Stray Cats

Jessie Gray
August 8, 2014

“So how was Amsterdam?!”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard these words in the past couple weeks since I’ve been back in the US. I also don’t know how many times the words “incredible” and “so much fun” have come out of my mouth in that time. It’s so difficult to tell someone about my time abroad by just pulling memories out of thin air. It usually takes me a long time before I remember a certain anecdote or funny story to tell when I’m asked that question, but now I feel like I finally have time to sit down and truly reflect upon what I miss most about my time in Amsterdam, and also really appreciate the things that I missed while I was there.

Things I Appreciate Now That I’m Back:


I can’t tell you how many times in Amsterdam I wasted my 11:11pm wish on a 24 hour Walgreens like the one I have down the street from my apartment in Nebraska. America is so spoiled we get upset when we are denied a place to buy candy bar at 4 in the morning. It was a humbling experience to have to wait for most things in Amsterdam that I could have had in the snap of my fingers here in America, but I have to admit, it’s nice being spoiled with 4 am candy bars again.

Air Conditioning

I don’t know if any of you have ever experienced a 90 degree summers day with absolutely no AC, much less a month and a half of it. I remember shopping on the hottest day in Amsterdam and pretending to look at novelty magnets in a souvenir shop for way too long because they had set up a fan in that corner. The awkward looks from the store manager was well worth the one moment of relief I had that day. I sit here in my apartment now on that same type of day with a hoodie on because I’ve had my AC cranked since the moment I clicked it back on. I never thought I’d feel such excitement from pressing a few buttons on my wall and it’s made me realize how much we take for granted here in America.

My People

My friends and family that I could only communicate with during the few hours during which both of our countries were awake is easily the thing I missed the most. Facebook messaging and Skyping just isn’t the same as being in the same room as someone. I’ve never appreciated the presence of a person more than I did the moment I dropped my luggage and received the biggest group hug of my life from my mom, dad and little sister at gate in the airport.


What I miss most:

To Do Lists

Having not only one thing to do, but usually an entire list of fun and interesting things we wanted to get done in Amsterdam every single day is something I really miss. I find my summer routine in good ol’ Nebraska so monotonous compared to the one I had in Amsterdam. Granted, I know I desperately needed this downtime, I still miss my beautifully busy schedule abroad.

The Fauna

Yes, wildlife in Amsterdam may be limited to the occasional pigeon or seagull, but the part of Amsterdam fauna that is incomparable to anywhere else is their cats. If you know anything about me at all you know how unhealthy my love for felines is, and Amsterdam sure had a lot of stray ones to feed my obsession. Every one of them were strangely trusting of humans and I tried to pet at least one a day. Yes I miss them, judge me. 


The People

I know I’ve said this before and I’ll say it a million more times, but the people of Amsterdam truly made this trip for me. The kindness I experienced in that country was unbelievable (literally, we actually tried to figure out why everyone was being so nice to us for a solid few days). It just goes to show the work some of us in America have to do in terms of general human decency and creating genuine positivity in every way we possibly can without expecting anything in return.  

An enormous thank you to everyone who has supported and followed along with me on my journey. I loved having the chance to share this experience with all of you.

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Jessie Gray

<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hello, I&#39;m Jessie Gray. I&#39;m an Advertising major with emphasis in Psychology and English from Nebraska. I love reading, food, and going on adventures with my friends, discovering people and worlds we never knew existed. I am passionate about photography and I hope that I can encapsulate my time abroad through that medium. I am incredibly excited to experience and share the adventures that await me overseas!</span></div>

2014 Summer 1, 2014 Summer 2
Home University:
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
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