Third-Year Going on First-Year

Just like a first year in orientation week, I am learning and experiencing constantly. There are back to back activities scheduled and mandatory meetings happening activity fairs are taking place outside. Organized chaos at its finest. Trying to do it all is tiring in and of itself, but trying to fully experience what you are doing is even harder with no rest inbetween. Two important lessons I had to relearn is that it’s okay to be tired, and that it’s okay to do things alone.

Kayaking through the canals of Utrecht

It can be so easy in the beginning to feel pressured to always be social and participate in every adventure that your group of newly-made friends may be going on. Yet some of my favorite memories, so far, have been discovered by myself. I spent a day biking around Amsterdam’s city center exploring local markets, boutiques and second hand stores. Once I was familiar with an area, I would lock up my bike (*very important step*), settle down by a canal, and have a mini picnic with me, myself, and I.This time alone allowed me to observe and to absorb my environment.

I enjoyed playing a little game with myself called “guess the tourist” when gazing at the bustling bike paths. It is quite amusing to watch all the newcomers make the same mistakes and experience the sharp learning curve that I too, had to learn when biking in Amsterdam. Just like being the first year traveling from, Minnesota to Eastern Washington for college, everything is new, everything is a little different, and it’s awhole lot of fun. It has been amazing to look back at photos from even the first week in Amsterdam and see how much I have changed, learned and grown in such a short amount of time. Time is already flying by, and this blog serves as a little mentalnote to take time to myself, slow it down, and appreciate where I am physically in the world, and where I am mentally in my life.

Having a family dinner with neighbors

Feline, one of my fellow flatmates, and I in Utrecht!

Three days to go, and feeling comfortably unprepared

We all know why I chose Amsterdam to study abroad. Because of the weeee….kend excursions!* All jokes aside, today is the day I realized that I will be living in Amsterdam for just over four months. While someone, who isn’t my mother, reading this may be thinking, “Only three days to go and you just figured this out!? Shouldn’t you be packing!?”, don’t fret. I’m packed, and have been for the past three weeks. I have been traveling around Europe with my sister, and am currently writing this (first!!) blog from a youth hostel in Budapest, Hungary.

My sister and I leaving Venice, Italy to travel to Athens, Greece (featuring all of our gear for 5 months of travel and 3 different climates!).

While traveling, I’ve easily become accustomed to telling people I meet my little spiel. “I’m from Minnesota, go to school in Washington state and will be studying in Amsterdam for the next four months.” But until recently, it was hard for me to actually conceptualize that I was going to be living in AmsterdamI think the true moment of realization was the seven unread program e-mails with subjects in all caps telling me specific things to bring and important documents to print out before I “leave for my trip.” …. Oops? Not only had I already left the states but I definitely didn’t pack a printer. Traveling before my semester abroad, and talking to fellow travelers about their experiences in Amsterdam, has really helped me get my mind into a comfortable headspace. So while I may not be fully prepared for my program with printed documents and specific items, I have a flight there, and I know that I can figure it out as I go.

In just three weeks, I have met many travelers from around the world that have told me that I will love Amsterdam and who are jealous of my opportunity to study there. While I may feel a bit unprepared for studying in a foreign country, there is a certain level of discomfort and uncertainty that comes with traveling that I have become accustomed to, and am learning to love. While three days away seems unreal, and is a little nerve-wracking, I am unbelievably appreciative of my opportunity to not only study in another country, but to do it in Amsterdam.

 

*Credited joke to my sister, the older and questionably more mature sister.

 

Just a few of the many friends I met along the way in Athens, Greece.

At Fisherman’s Bastion after a Free Walking Tour (highly recommend for wherever you travel! I went on one in Athens too) in Budapest, Hungary.