The Journey Begins

Natalie Weiss
June 18, 2016

I’m here! I am in Amsterdam! Getting here was an adventure but first I want to address my predeparture fears now that I am postdeparture.


Food is very cheap here. The grocery store is manageable. My roommate and I have done some cooking for each other which is nice. I have been eating a lot healthier too, especially because my roommate is vegan.

After buying my own groceries and cooking all my meals, I discovered that I really like cooking. I like looking at my fridge, and putting something together with what I got. And I have total autonomy to only buy what I want. I don’t buy junk food and actually pick vegetables I like. Living on my own definitely allows for a healthier and happier lifestyle, in terms of food at least. A few days ago, I made chicken satay! Yesterday I made my own tomato sauce for my pasta, just because! It has been a total adventure. I never thought I would become this person.


I haven’t had an issues yet but I’ve only bought a little. They tell you that you should only go to the grocery store once a week, otherwise to end up spending more money. I go about every 4-6 days, which could be worse. The average grocery trip costs me about €25. But during my trip to Berlin, because I had to eat out every lunch and dinner (something I haven’t even done once in Amsterdam,) I spent about €50, just on food for three days. Because it was a field trip, we didn’t need to pay for the hostel or transportation. This trip made me nervous about any trips I take myself. It was exhausting and expensive. I would like to go to Bruges, because it has a great art history, and it’s one of those classic old European cities with less tourists than other places. I would also like to Prague because it seems fantastic, and according to one of my friends, a cheaper city than some others.

Fitting In

Everyone here is really chill. I fit in great. I was surprised that how many people only picked the program for the location. While that meant a lot to me, the classes are what really sold me to IES Abroad’s program in Amsterdam. I was a little worried that my classmates would not be as passionate as me about the subject. But so far everyone seems involved.

There are also two other people with undercuts and another with unshaven legs, so I fit right in! There are so far at least 5 other LQBTQ people in my group of 23 study abroad buddies. There is also a “Queer Café” near central station I want to try.

The Journey

The airport ride over was crazy. I had to get up at 6am to leave when my mom leaves for work. I got to the airport at 7 for my 12:30 flight. While in line, I asked this nice boy in front of me a question, and we ended talking the whole time. He even waited for me when we both needed to go to the bathroom and when I had to go through security three times (I forgot I was wearing a money belt. Totally not worth it by the way. Pick pocketing is much less of a deal than people let on in Amsterdam.) We happened to have the same gate, although my flight was 4 hours after his, so we sat next to each other. He was great! I have never made an airport friend before. He was going to Paris, then Brussels, then Amsterdam, so we decided to keep in touch to meet up some time.

My flight was delayed an hour, which made me nervous that I would miss my connecting flight. But apparently quite a few people were flying from LA to Toronto to Amsterdam, so they told me not to worry. I messaged the program organizer and she told me not to worry either. But I also didn’t have any Canadian dollars, so if I had to spend the night, it would suck. In the flight to Toronto, I sat next to a very nice Dutch man, and he asked me about my upcoming trip. They ended up delaying my connecting flight 10 minutes just to let us make it. It was an adventure.

My second flight was not very eventful, although I only slept for about an hour. When I arrived, I had lots of trouble finding the checkpoint and I was late for my taxi. Fortunately, when I got there, the taxi full of study abroad students hadn’t left yet and I was on my way. Hello, Amsterdam!

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