Sunday, February 10, 2013

Arriving in Amsterdam


The realization that I am living in another city, country and continent is slowly becoming more clear after the initial days of culture shock. The sporadic Amsterdam weather means I've only explored a few areas of the city central but here's a little glimpse of what my stay has been like so far. 


One of the first things I noticed right after I got off the plane was how many windows there were in the buildings and they were all much bigger than I usually see. There's something special about the architecture here that makes everything look quaint and homey yet grand at the same time. The canals run through the city center and smaller bodies of water are a familiar sight in the outer parts of Amsterdam as well. 


Pictured above is what I will be calling my school for the next few months. I'm still getting the hang of the education system here and I'm still in the process of figuring out how to procure my textbooks and all the nitty gritty, un-fun part of studying abroad. 


My dorm is located right next to the building I take classes in which is pretty amazing as I've always been a commuter student at home. I have a generous sized room all to myself and have two suite mates who I share the bathroom and kitchen with. For the first time I feel like I'm living on my own which is pretty awesome yet somewhat lonely at times. For the most part I'm enjoying the temporary living arrangement. I have two huge windows in my room that pretty much make up the entire side of my room. I can open the entire windows like doors and transform the side of my room into a balcony. I have a nice view of the Ajax Arena and the metro as well.  


Speaking of the metro, I actually find myself missing the MTA and unlimited monthly cards. Taking the public transport here gets expensive very quickly! The price is determined by how far you go so you swipe when you enter the station and when you exit. Singapore has a similar system so I'm assuming this transportation style is common in other parts of the world. The biggest problem I have with the public transportation is that the metro, trams and day buses end service at 12:30AM and after that you can only ride the night bus until everything resumes at 6:00AM. The night bus costs a whopping €4.50! When the weather gets better I might invest in a bike but that plan is still tentative....


The majority of my money has been spent on transport and groceries. I live outside of the city center and so many meals are eaten in the comfort of my own apartment. As someone who rarely cooked at home, I was excited and intimidated at the prospect of having to think of what to eat several times a day. Of course I had to pick up some essential carbs during my first food shopping excursion! Honestly I've impressed myself so far at being able to cook for myself and not go hungry. I eat about four to five times a day since I get hungry really quickly and I'm becoming a master at making simple snacks. I like to store bananas in the fridge so they last longer and I slather the banana in pindakaas (Dutch peanut butter) as a nutritious and tasty treat. I was put off by the inflated prices of Jif and Skippy so I opted for the local CalvĂ© brand and I actually prefer the Dutch version! 


I try to avoid fast food but I give myself a decent amount of wiggle room to indulge and experience new things. FEBO is a fast food place (I can't even bring myself to call it a restaurant) where little snacks like croquettes and hamburgers are put into heated slots and served vending machine style, sorta. I should have taken a photo of the actual contraption but a quick google search will clear up my explanation. I've only tried the kalfsvleeskroket, or veal croquette, so far and it was quite tasty. Of course this could be healthier but for €1.60 I can't complain too much. I'm looking forward to trying most of the FEBO offerings before I leave. 


I want to end this catch up post with a shout out to all my Chinese (and Korean) readers who are celebrating Lunar New Year! Unfortunately I am away from my family and I am missing out on the gatherings and great food. If anything, being abroad has made me appreciate home, my family and friends much more than I would have ever thought possible. I purposely made my way to Amsterdam's "Chinatown" and popped into Nam Kee, a popular restaurant I read about quite a few times online. I got the duck and chicken over rice and honestly I was disappointed. I finished every last grain of rice and sliver of meat because I missed Chinese food but New York does Chinese food way better and at a more wallet friendly price. Being away definitely makes me realize how much I took for granted in New York. I think I will be trying various Dutch and European cuisines whilst I'm here and save the Asian dishes for home and Asia.

Everyday that passes makes me feel a bit more at home and although there are sometimes unpleasantries, I'm taking every experience, good and bad, as a lesson to learn from. Have you ever been to Amsterdam or surrounding areas of Europe? I would love to get recommendations on where to go and what to do!

16 comments :

  1. Nothing like being away from home to actually know how 'good' home is :X Has it been hard traveling around Amsterdam?
    Can't wait to see more of your adventures :]
    & Happy new year!!

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    1. Getting around the city is pretty easy by public transportation. I'm not adept at taking the buses at trams though. Hope you had a great CNY :)

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  2. Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope you are adjusting well and are not too homesick. I suppose as you get more familiar with your surroundings it will get better.

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    1. I don't think I'm awfully homesick but there are definitely times that I wish I was back at home. It's all part of life's experiences!

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  3. Glad you are adjusting! the metro in terms of how far u go and ending at 12 o clock is very common in the world even the US, Boston trains stop at midnight!
    Sorry abt missing the Chinese food, but it will taste even better when u get the real thing again!

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    1. As I visit different cities, I realize why people call New York the city that never sleeps! A lot of stores are closed on Sundays which is amazing to me XD

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  4. yay! great post. being away definitely always makes me miss home, but such an amazing experience you are having. i hope you'll continue to post more pictures from your trip <3

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    1. I will definitely be blogging about my time abroad! Hope you guys don't mind all my little ramblings :)

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  5. It looks beautiful over there! Jealous that you are studying abroad, as I never got the chance to do it myself. Have a blast, and keep us updated!

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    1. I knew for a few years that I was going to study abroad but where and when were the big questions. When else does one get a chance to live abroad for a few months without having to worry too much about expenses and work? :D

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  6. I am glad you are adjusting. Loved this update.

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    1. Thanks, Kelly :) Hope to update more soon!

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  7. This is so exciting :D You will remember this experience forever and ever! To have the experience to study abroad outside of the US and in Europe, one of the oldest countries with such gorgeous architecture, you are in for a treat!

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    1. I sure hope so! This is definitely one of the more "memorable" things I've done (or I should say "am doing").

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  8. oh hope the weather gets warmer soon so you don't have to pay those pricey meters! man i wanna visit the place one day ! so gorgeous! have a good one!

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    1. Even if the weather is super nice, I don't live that close to the city center that I can just walk/bike there easily :( It is a beautiful city though so it's worth the metro fare ^^

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