Becoming Part of the City

I have been in Amsterdam for a little over a week now, and I can honestly say that I have found yet another home abroad. I am staying in a youth hostel a little outside the center of the city. As I have never stayed in a hostel before, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I was certainly pleasantly surprised. Inside, the hostel is vibrant with art, cool lounges, great food, and overall young vibes. Though definitely on the small side for efficiency purposes, the hostel and my room, which I share with three other girls from the program, are still quite comfortable and enjoyable.


The hostel itself is actually in this beautiful local park (pictured above), which adds to the homey feel and picturesque-ness of my newfound home. I have already gone on a few runs around the park in the mornings and plan to enjoy a few picnics outside in the park when it gets a bit warmer. (It has been hovering around 55/60 degrees Fahrenheit for the past week.) The location of the hostel also makes it really easy to explore the rest of the city either by walking or by means of any of the forms of public transit. With some friends, I have taken advantage of some of our free time to walk around and explore the city. One day, we actually ended up walking over 10 miles without realizing it! It certainly helped us get a good sense of where things are in the city, how the city itself is set up, and how it runs. The magnitude of bikes on the road and their flow of traffic took a bit of getting used to as that is, by far, one of the major means of transportation in Amsterdam.


Pictured above: One of the many bikers biking across one of the bridges near our classroom space.

Originally, one of the challenges I was facing with regards to getting around in the city was my inability to open up my trusty GoogleMaps since I do not have an international data plan. I use GoogleMaps all of the time back in the US so what was I going to do here in Amsterdam? Well, I thought about getting a SIM card with data, but then decided to just use wifi when it was available, and I can honestly say that I’m so happy with that decision not to get some kind of data plan. I have studied abroad three times before and one of the best and consistent takeaways I got from those experiences is that putting your phone away and actually looking up at everything around you is the best way to truly get all that you can from an abroad experience. It may feel weird at first since we are so dependent on our phones, but breaking that dependency has allowed me to actually see the world and immerse myself in the culture around me.


Pictured above: One of the many canals we ventured around during one our walks around the city.

On that day when a few of us walked over 10 miles, we may have gotten slightly lost once or twice but always found our way back on track and didn’t mind it because we were just enjoying walking around and taking in the city around us. I also went old school and whipped out my handy-dandy foldable map at one point to mark some of our favorite spots from that day’s adventure and make sure we weren’t getting too lost. I’m excited to see what other adventures this city has in store for more over the course of this program! (But I will keep my trusty map with me just in case!)