If you haven’t done so, check out the beginning of my journey:
On the day I left Amsterdam for Texel, my classmates and I met at Centraal Station after our classes. This wasn’t easy because 10 to 15 students from my class tried to squeeze into a packed tram from the Rijksmuseum to Centraal Station. We all died of laughter after we got off because of the cramped conditions, and I was thankful that I found a pocket to stand in for the 10-minute ride. It took about 1.5-2 hours on the train to get to the boat and about 15-30 minutes on the boat before getting to the island. I kept wishing we could have spent more time on the boat because it was the type of boat someone could take a cruise in. It had huge lounge areas with comfortable seats and booths, a full cafe, and a parking garage. I could have spent a good part of my day floating back and forth from the mainland to the island on the boat.
Once we reached the island, everyone except one student and professor received bikes to use on the island. They were the smart ones. After five weeks of riding a bike throughout Amsterdam, I felt confident riding the bike on the island for long periods of time. Before we were on the island, everyone received an email asking if we wanted to ride bikes during our stay or take public transportation. The email warned about Texel being quite windy and riding our bikes between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours per trip. What no one realized is that Texel wind is VASTLY different than Illinois wind. While Illinois wind is manageable to ride a bike in, Texel wind is manageable to walk in. Especially because they were finishing their windiest time of the year, it was more difficult to power through the tough winds.
When we began riding our bikes, I was doing decently well and was near the front. After we took a break in the middle of the trip, I began doing terribly and was quickly moving to the back of the pack. I kept pushing and pushing until I felt an asthma attack coming. From managing my asthma and learning what my signs are for going into an asthma attack, I did not have much longer. After taking two puffs of my rescue inhaler, I tried to ride the bike, but immediately knew I wouldn’t continue. Thankfully, a professor and another student were walking to the hotel, so I joined them. We walked the rest of the way there and were even joined by the trip leader because we were taking so long. When she came to us, we explained the issue, and I asked her what the possibility was to exchange the bike for the bus passes. While I would try to grin and bear my decisions, I was terrified I would have to call an ambulance during one of my rides because of how negatively it affected my health.
We finally made it back to the hotel, and I joined my other classmates to find a place for dinner in town. When my group and I went to get something to eat, the town appeared like it was abandoned. There was no one except us on the streets, and we found one restaurant that was open at the later hour (around 6:30/7 pm). At first, we thought it was bizarre before I realized that in Amsterdam, everything shut down around five or six at night except multiple restaurants that remained open until 10 pm or later. It was interesting to see how the locals looked at us weirdly for coming in late while we looked at them in the same manner for the ghost town we stepped into. When we walked home after dinner, I will never forget the eery feeling I got because of the winding streets and tall buildings. I could not stop imagining a horror movie scene where someone would pop around a building and give me a scare. Thankfully we made it back fine; at least I had to be. Otherwise, how would I tell this story?
The next morning about half the class decided to change from having a bike to getting bus tickets. Thankfully, the trip leader was amazing at switching around everything for us at such short notice. When we were given the instructions for riding the buses, we thought that there would be a separate bus at the stop that we get on. We did not realize that we were supposed to stay on the same bus because it changed destinations at the stop. The bus driver seemed to stay longer than expected at the stop, and we realized afterwards that he thought we were getting back on. A couple of minutes after he left, I looked at a screen that told us when the next bus would arrive. It read 56 minutes. Everyone realized the confusion and that we were stuck waiting for the next bus or had to walk the 40 minutes to our destination. We tried to walk with my phone’s GPS, but my phone kept changing directions and did not have a firm location.
At this point, we were all a bit frustrated at the confusing instructions and tried to find a way to get a taxi. Our professor went into a local grocery store while the other students and I tried to figure out another transportation method. Because Texel is an island, every company needed a couple of days of notice if we wanted a taxi. I was feeling dejected at the time until my professor came out with a hopeful look. She told us that she was asking around about different transportation options when a woman offered to give us a ride. Her car could hold 4 students at a time (there were 8 students), and the trip was 10 minutes one way. The professor let her know that she would have to make two trips for a 40-minute drive overall, and she was fine with that. I was stunned at the generosity of this woman. After finishing her grocery shopping, she decided to go out of her way to take a group of college students to the aquarium. Everyone was grateful for this woman, and when the professor tried to give her some gas money- which I would have done the same for the amount of time she drove- she refused and said she was happy to help. I could have cried from the kindness of this woman who had no obligation to help us and decided to anyway.
We spent some time at the aquarium and thankfully made it to our next destination without any issues. The next stop we came to was at the ocean where we would get on a shrimp ship. Our group was about 30-45 minutes faster than the other group, so we sat inside a cafe and were treated to coffee by our professor. It was a nice pitstop for us to relax and take in everything that has happened so far that day.
When the next group arrived, we got onto the shrimp boat and took off. I was excited to be there, but it was a lot colder than I planned on and began to quickly shiver. At first, I thought there was no place to warm up, so I stood outside for a long time until I saw people going to the back of the ship. I followed one person and came across, and the warm room where people could sit and eat. For the rest of the time, I sat back there, and almost all of my classmates joined me for the remaining time on the ship. While I did get to see the shrimp being pulled up, I was grateful to be somewhere warm instead of potentially getting myself sick to see what was going on outside.
Nothing much happened after the boat except traveling back to our temporary home in Amsterdam. For the remainder of the week, my classmates and I went to class and took bike rides around Amsterdam. Despite the chaos my classmates and I endured at Texel, I have to give kudos to the trip leader. She thought quickly on her feet and was as accommodating as possible, considering the circumstances. She did everything she could to make sure we were happy, and I could not thank her enough for her efforts. As much as this week was a bit of a struggle, it made the next week worthwhile.