Hello Family and Friends 🙂
First of all, I landed in Amsterdam on Sunday morning and it has been a crazy and busy last few days! I must say that Amsterdam overall has gone over and beyond all of my expectations so far. The city itself is actually pretty small, everywhere you need to go is walking/biking distance and they have such amazing pubic transport. I am surprised at how “well set up” the city is, my first impression was that it reminded me of Disneyland because I did not see one thing out of place or one piece of trash on the street. The streets are all made of brick and the buildings are all very old and beautiful! No matter where I walk around my house, I am surrounded by beauty!
My accommodation is located on the Prinsengracht canal, which is actually the Beverly Hills of Amsterdam. I heard that the apartments on my street go for millions of dollars, so it absolutely blows the locals minds when I tell them that I live on Prinsengracht! It is a very posh and beautiful area that is surrounded by cute cafes, canals, and lots of shops and restaurants. This is definitely an opposite experience of where I lived in Cape Town, in which the actual town where my house was was very run down and not very scenic by any means. I am absolutely obsessed with my dorm room, we have our own living room, mini-kitchen, and loft. I am sharing it with a girl from China, but she does not arrive until next week so it has been pretty great to have the place to myself. All of my other international friends are very jealous of my place, I definitely lucked out! We have big windows in the room that look out on our “backyard” garden. Everyone in my building is international students and we had a social event the first night to meet and greet all of the new people who moved in here. I became good friends with two other American girls the first day I arrived on the bus to the building, so it has been fun hanging out with them as well!
One thing that I really like about the abroad program that I am in is that there is not too many Americans studying abroad here compared to the amount of other Europeans here for the semester. It has been so interesting to make friends with people from Germany, Brussels, Norway, England, South Africa :), the list goes on and on!
The first four days that I am here is the introduction week, where we are put into groups of 25 international students and we have 2 Dutch “leaders” who are also students our age who show us around the city and answer any questions we have. They have taken us around city center, showed us the grocery store, went to the zoo, and a canal tour. Our group has been inseparable the last 48 hours and we have already became very good friends with one another! I think there is only 1 other American in our introduction group.
Today, I bought a bike which is absolutely essential to life in Amsterdam! Everyone bikes everywhere, this is definitely not a car friendly city. My second hand bike was 80 euros and was able to barter a bit at the bike market to get the price to include a free lock and bell. I’m hoping this bike will last me until the end of the semester without breaking down or getting stolen! Riding a bike is actually very terrifying at first here, there is so much traffic and crossings and it is a bit difficult to get used to the flow of riding around. It’s just going to take some practice!
The weather here has been California weather, which is extremely unusual for Amsterdam! Everyday has been over 80 degrees and the nights are very warm as well. I guess I arrived right when there was a heat wave.
Hmm, trying to think of any last thoughts before I go to bed. I can definitely see how it is a much more liberal country. I have passed by many coffee shops that sell weed and people are outside smoking, and also many girls in red lit up windows who are prostitutes. Overall, I think this city is incredibly safe. Especially where I live, there are tons of tourists and people out in restaurants/cafes outside of my house until the early hours of the morning. The city streets are also very well lit, and I haven’t had a moment yet in Amsterdam where I felt like I was in the “wrong part of town”. Everywhere is so clean, polished, and beautiful. It is hard to describe, I think it reminds me of walking around a movie set.
Anyways, I think those are all my thoughts so far! Keep posted for more blogs soon 🙂