Part 1: First Day Jitters in Amsterdam

Nothing will be as wild or as character building as going to a foreign continent. By yourself. Coming back from my study abroad journey has opened my eyes and given me insight into the world that I had not received before. There is too much to tell in a single article, so I will be publishing multiple parts of my journey.

Leaving my family at the airport was difficult, but I quickly became aggravated when my backpack broke after the TSA check in. I was already worried about being in a foreign land with no family, but this was an evil cherry on top of the sundae. After finding another bag and going to my gate, I flew to Detroit to transfer to my 8.5 hour flight to Amsterdam, Netherlands. I was surprised by how much they feed you on the flight towards Europe. It felt like I was consistently eating until they turned off the lights to sleep. 

Previously, I had talked with some of my classmates about getting a ride together to the hotel we stayed at. I hadn't heard anything in a while and thought I was on my own until someone messaged me asking if we were still going to the hotel together. I was relieved to have some type of help navigating the foreign city. It is a lot better to have someone to travel with because even if you don't know where you're going, you can rely on each other. We were brave and decided to take public transportation to the hotel since it was the cheapest option. In Amsterdam, they have multiple transportation options such as cars, trams, bikes (which is the most popular), metro, train, bus, and more, and my classmate and I took the train and metro. After buying our tickets at a kiosk (in a different language mind you) we descended to where the trains were and hopped on. Nothing was very different about the trains, but the metro was interesting. It was similar to the subway except it was dead silent. We were the only ones talking on the metro which made us realize how much we looked like tourists (even more so when you saw our suitcases). 

After leaving on the opposite side of where the hotel is, we made it in and found our other classmates. Having the classmates there was another relief because for the next 9 weeks we would rely on each other for everything from homework questions to places to travel. It was an amazing support system to have in Amsterdam. The day continued with the IES Abroad coordinators showing us around the city and taking a boat tour. I do encourage on going on a boat tour, but not on the one I went on. I went on an enclosed boat tour which was okay, but when I went on an open one later on, it was immensely better because you felt more immersed with the city rather than feeling you were on the outside looking in. Gentle swaying in a warm environment while being sleep deprived by the 7 hour difference also made it very difficult to stay awake, so definitely save it for another day. 

Staying awake for the first day, no matter how tired you may be or tempted to take a nap, is the best advice to adjust to the new time difference. It is exhausting to travel as well as to get situated in the city, but no matter how much the bed calls your name it would cause more harm than good in the end. The first day is a whirl wind of newness that overwhelms anyone traveling alone to a different continent for the first time, but the end experience is completely worth it. This is only the first day on countless adventures and experiences I had in Amsterdam. And I can't wait to share more with you in the next part of my journey.