T minus 2 Days - The Countdown Begins

Natalie Weiss
May 31, 2016

I am finally excited to be going to Amsterdam for six weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I was super pumped the entire time I applied and did the paper work necessary to enroll. But this last week or two before I leave, I have been pretty panicked about going. Not the run around screaming kind of panic, but more of if-I-think-about-this-for-more-than-a-minute-I’m-going-to-throw-up kind of panic. But now everything is in place, all I have to do is pack and then I am ready to go! One thing that has quelled my anxiety is to systematically go through all that has worried me about this trip. So I am going to do it again for all of you.


Okay, so I think this is seriously one of the under-panicked about things about study abroad (if that makes sense). It didn’t seem like something major to be nervous about. I am told I am an ‘adult’ and that usually means I should be able to handle feeding myself. I even know I can, I’ve done it from time to time. But I need to eat every day. More than once. Actually a lot more than once. That means cooking regularly, which means having food available, which means going grocery shopping, which means human interaction (not my strong suit. Do you think they have self-check out machines in Amsterdam?) This worry is also tied to my next worry.


I have regular panic attacks about money in general. Mostly as a result of a broken education system that made me graduate high school without knowing anything about personal finance. My sister told me she was surprised I didn’t convince my parents to let me stay in Europe an extra week after my program. I told her I had $11.46 in the bank, I’m not sure I could afford a night in a hostel and a meal or two by myself. She rolled her eyes and told me I ‘did the whole money thing wrong’. I’d agree but I don’t know any other way, so I go with what I got. To anyone who’s worried, I have enough money to feed myself during the program and for a few other things, don’t worry. But like? How will my atm card work differently? Chip and pin machines are a thing in Europe but does it matter because will they even take my card? I heard stealing is common. How worried should I be? Okay but can I actually afford this souvenir? My parents are baffled how much money stresses me out considering they bankroll everything. But it does. yay.

Fitting In

My whole life I have never concerned myself with fitting in. Except when I travel. I don’t want the locals to see me, roll their eyes, and scoff, “American”. Preferably, I’d like them to assume I’m Dutch and I never find out otherwise. I have already unpacked the iconic American tourist sneakers, and I won’t be wearing too many tee shirts. I am going to Amsterdam to learn about Dutch culture. Which means I don’t know yet what it means to be Dutch. I only know what it means to be American. While I can possibly go incognito, I can’t erase my identity.

Not only do I know how to be American, I also only know how to be queer in America. I don’t shave my legs, I have an undercut. I know what to expect when people see me in public in the US, but when I go to Europe are people going to judge me harsher than they do here? Amsterdam is known as a very gay friendly city, but I don’t know how navigate the queer culture there like I do in college. I plan to figure it all out in the few weeks I am there. Expect future posts.


These worries are mostly not going to be problems. It is completely natural to be nervous about something major like studying abroad. Here are somethings I am not worried about:

Making friends – I am, admittedly, fairly okay at that.

My classes – they look manageable. Although that one 10 page paper is going to be annoying. (I will be writing more on my classes in the future. *wink*)

My living situation – if for some reason I don’t like my room or my roommate, I’ll only be gone 6 weeks. I’ll survive.

Homesickness – I imagine I’ll miss sushi and avocado – things I always miss when I am away from home, but I talk to my family regularly, I’m good.

Packing – I take what I remember. I live without or buy what I forget. I am trying to pack lightly because apparently everyone over packs for study abroad.

Whether you share my worries, or think I need to adjust my medication, now you know the inner workings of someone about to study abroad. Wish me luck!

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