How to Grow a Home

Makai Andrews
September 24, 2018

    It’s hard to explain to someone else what it feels like to be abroad. I’m constantly in awe of the space around me. Sucked into these new cultures but somehow simultaneously overstimulated to the point where I can barely tell you what I do every day. I’ve been here for over a month now, and while some of the novelty of the city has begun to ware off I find myself still so taken by the city and it’s people. I’ve gone on a few weekend trips to other countries over this past month, and admittedly while I’ve enjoyed them all very much I’ve always been eager to get back to my new Amsterdam home.

    In this past month I’ve experienced more firsts than I ever could’ve expected. I’ve traveled over 5,000 miles by myself, made my own gouda cheese at a farm, rode a bike through central Amsterdam without crashing into anything, gone swimming in a small Dutch beach town, figured out a foreign transit system, eaten more fries and mayo (the Dutch standard) than I thought possible, stayed in cube houses in Rotterdam, climbed the tallest church tower in Delft, seen the Eiffel Tower, swam in the Balearic Sea, stood up to my waist in foam at one of the top five clubs in the world, and laughed much harder than I have in a while. And the best part is this is only the beginning.

    I have a friend who’s been traveling with me who tells everyone we meet we’re “from Amsterdam,” despite our correcting him otherwise. It feels wrong to claim Holland as our own, but we’ve also been here too long to still consider ourselves tourists. At this point we’re floating, no more than nomads with a connection to our past and a wishy-washy idea of our present.

    On a weekend in Paris when a friend was having a rough afternoon, exasperated, she screamed “Take me back to my bed!” When we brought her into her room of the Airbnb she was less than satisfied. “No! Take me back to my bed… This isn’t Amsterdam!” I’ve never been more thrilled to call a city my new home.

    The friendships I’ve made with the people I’ve met here are stronger than I expected them to be. Usually, in the initial weeks of meeting people it takes me time to really warm up to anyone and allow myself to act natural. But in Amsterdam, whether it’s because I’ve been forcing myself outside of my comfort zone so frequently or because the Dutch have created a space for me to really be myself, my friendships here are as fierce and as authentic as any I’ve had before. I’ve grown to like the person I am here, the person they’ve become friends with. The tell-it-to-your-face-but-will-tend-to-you-when-you’re-sick kind of friend I’ve become. There’s something more natural in it, in the way I’ve been carrying myself.

    I’ve managed to shed some of the anger I’m so often associated with back home. I’m open to new opportunities, and while I may be scared out of my mind half the time I’m doing my best to embrace every new situation I’m thrown into. So here’s a brief thank you to the new people I’ve met while abroad. I know you wanted met to talk about you all on here in detail, describe everyone’s virtues and best quirks. But in truth, while I love all you I am even more in love with the person you are allowing me to become. I’ve grown an inexplicable amount over this past month and I have you all, more than anything else, to thank for that. So in short: Thank you for giving me the space to become the best version of myself.

    And to my friends back home, thank you for your undying support of me this past month. You always know how to act when I’m at a loss, always know how to lift me up and make me remember what I’m worth. From the friend who has been abroad already and is giving me nothing but support and tips, to the one who reminds me each and every day of how excited she is to see me again, thank you for cheering me on when I start to question myself. And to my family, thank you for at least acting like you’re interested in the flood of pictures I’ve sent you from all these new places. I can’t wait to send you some more soon.

Makai Andrews

<p>My name is Makai Andrews, born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I attended a boarding school, Interlochen Arts Academy, for my final two years of high school in northern Michigan before making another big jump across the country to study as a double major in writing and psychology at Ithaca College. Right now, I am working on coming to the conclusion that in order to write well, you have to live well.</p>

Term:
2018 Fall
Home university:
Ithaca College
Hometown:
Los Angeles, CA
Major:
Creative Writing
Psychology
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