On arrival in Amsterdam, I came to a few sudden realisations.

  • One: snow is not so pretty in the city- it is cold, wet and slippery.
  • Two: Apart from driving on the opposite side of the road, the Dutch are crazy drivers. Survival in the city includes dodging cars, trams, bikes and incoming tourists with suitcases.
  • Three: They city has many distinctive smells that are impossible to avoid, wherever I go.

 

But in spite of these factors, I have really come to love the city. Amsterdam is the most amazing and quirky city! There is always something happening, something to do and something to see. There is never a dull moment in this place. The clubs are awesome- but expensive. Our first night out in the city was at a party for all the exchange students from around the city. We paid: 6 euro for entry.

1 euro to hang up our coat

50 cents to go to the toilet – each time!

3.50 euro for a wine/beer

Luckily there is more to Amsterdam than the expensive clubs!

There is a bar for anyone and everyone. Coffee shops, while clichéd, are a big part of Dutch culture and therefore belong in a must-try column. Even if you don’t smoke, there is a lot of atmosphere, which must be experienced. Another cliché is the Red Light District, which we have been through many times, because it never gets boring! It is not as wild as it appears in the media however. I suppose because of all the tourists, prostitution and drugs, the police feel the need to patrol it more cautiously than other areas. It’s actually quite safe. In fact, on arrival in Amsterdam, I spent my first two nights in a hostel in the Red Light District, before my lease at college began. There are some very interesting people spending their time in the District, let me tell you!

I live at Campus Bergwijkdreef, which is in Diemen, about a 15 minute ride away from Amsterdam Centraal on the metro. It is not the best standard of living I have ever encountered, but I cannot imagine living anywhere else. The other inhabitants of the “containers”, as the Dutch students call the building, are some of the most awesome people I have ever met. Within two days of orientation at Hogeschool INHolland, I made some really strong friendships with people all over the world. They come from countries such as Finland, Sweden, Turkey, France, Italy, Belgium, Slovenia, Germany… all over the place! Though we have not even known each other for two weeks yet, we have quickly become a family. There is always someone’s door to knock on when we are having a down day… which happens. Currently I am looking for work but am getting turned down because I don’t speak Dutch…which is a problem. But I am taking every day as it comes, and having good friends upstairs, downstairs and next door really makes life easier J

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