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 Calvé 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.
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!