I only just arrived in Amsterdam one week ago, but before the feeling of complete wonder surrounding this city fades (which it probably never will), I want to document first impressions. First of all, many people told me that Amsterdam in real life looks exactly as it does in pictures. They are correct. This city is completely picturesque... everywhere. Even in the Red Light District narrow, cobblestone streets give way to stunning stone and brick buildings dotting the canals, each facade changing abruptly into a new style.
We've been very lucky with the weather so far. Today (Wednesday) is the first day that it has rained and we arrived a week before this past Monday. Nine days of sun and heat is a big deal in this rainy little country, and we soaked it up as best week could, exploring the new city with other international students through the International Student Network orientation. It is clear that this city errupts with life around this time of year when students from all over the world flood in for University. In these past few sunny days any park you go to is filled with groups of students chatting and relaxing in the beautiful greenery along the canals.
Another thing I was told about Amsterdam is that riding a bike here is safe but overwhealming. I was quite nervous for this part but it turns out it really isn't overwhealming at all! In the city center it can be a bit chaotic but so far I haven't gotten yelled at by any seasoned Dutch riders. Bikes truly rule the road and though I haven't ridden in many cars, according to Google Maps getting somewhere on bike is actually quicker than driving. Biking cuts down walking time by more than half. Also it's incredibly fun. I don't know if I'll ever get over the excitement and pleasure riding my bike to dinner or a bar at night. An added bonus is that, like I've already mentioned, Amsterdam is just stunning so the scenery is something special.
By far the best day so far was this past Monday because it was my twenty-second birthday! I love having my birthday at the end of summer, when school starts because if I'm in a new place without any people I know, starting at U of R or beginning my semester in Amsterdam for example, a birthday is any easy way for to invite people out to celebrate without being weird. Everyone loves birthdays, right?! Probably not as much as I do. After an academic orientation I headed into the city center to get a bike, which honestly made my day already. Riding through the city really made me feel powerful and independent in a way I never had before. Maybe it was being on a bike, maybe it was being twenty two... we'll never know. After this adventure my roommate and I went to Bulls and Dogs, a fancy hot dog and milkshake shop not too far from our flat. Anyone that knows me knows I love a good hot dog. We shared a caramel milkshake, two pesto and cheese hot dogs, and a cup of curly fries. Of course the eating continued because there really is no better way to celebrate any occasion. For dinner I invited a few friends, international and American, to dinner at Oost Pizzaria. Friends brought more friends and we ended up with a group of fourteen which definitely overwhealmed the tiny kitchen. We were offered a group deal so we enjoyed a taste of pretty much everything on the menu: about six pasta dishes, seven pizzas, and more than a few bottles of wine. A couple friends even surprised me with some type of cake thing they found at the local grocery. All in all the day was magical.
I've thoroughly enjoyed the two weeks we have before classes start, but Monday all the fun is over. Just kidding, I'm actually quite excited for school to begin. Unfortunately I realized today that I have to take photos horizontally if I was to upload them here, so in future posts I will have pictures. Stay tuned to find out about where this adventure takes me next!
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<p>I grew up in Ipswich, MA an incredibly beautiful (though much too small) town on the northern coast of Massachusetts. I began college in 2013 at the University of Rochester, planning to major in Brain and Cognitive Science. I ended up having to take some time of of school for health reasons and I was lucky enough to travel to India for three months where I backpacked with a gap year program called Carpe Diem. It was the most incredible experience I've ever had, how could it not be. But to be honest it feels surreal now. I am so excited to get back to living far away from everything familiar to me. When I came back to U of R in the winter of 2015 I decided to major in English and Anthropology and now my dream is to work for NPR. These days I'm usually listening to a podcast or book on tape, reading, or writing.</p>