The thought “what the hell am I doing here” has definitely crossed my mind a couple of times since I’ve arrived. It’s weird, packing up and moving across the world for a year’s worth of who knows what (especially for the first time). But then I think about what the hell I am doing here, and things are good again. Of course I am doing this! I have taken the opportunity to go live in the centre of one of the world’s most renowned cities and be immersed in a new culture with a whole whack of kids from around the world doing the same thing, and that’s pretty amazing. I still don’t know too many people, I don’t understand the language, and I get lost every single freakin’ time I try to get somewhere new, but that’s okay. That’s what this whole study abroad thing is about.

Since my people from home have all left, things have been moving slowly. Yesterday, a few of us exchange students met up for about four hours and truly all we did was eat ice cream, and then drink coffee. It’s been nice having things move a bit slower than usual, spending a lot of time with yourself can be good. I know soon I will have too many things to do, so I am trying to embrace this feeling.

Words from Evan, the funniest and happiest bartender-slash-professional-skeleton-racer one could ever meet have crossed my mind many times since I’ve left: I haven’t figured out the formula yet, though I know the equation exists for self gain in travel and distance from home. It will be difficult only occasionally, and rewarding often. Life is weird. I will keep working on the equation, there are just so many variables, but I will let you know if I can land a rough draft. 

This is Evan eating dinner while doing yoga on a stack of giant Jenga, probably professing something wise and/or hilarious. 

Okay, that is all from me for now. xx

Send me your addresses, friends! I like writing postcards. Also I can give you my address and we can have some old school communication goin’ on. Cool.

Letter 274

Wouter Venema, One to One – A response to Letter 274 (Van Gogh)

“What is drawing? How does one get there? It’s working one’s way through an invisible iron wall that seems to stand between what one feels and what one can do. How can one get through that wall? — since hammering on it doesn’t help at all. In my view, one must undermine the wall and grind through it slowly and patiently.”

Twelve days in.

Lots of things have happened since I wrote last time. I won’t bore you with too many details though. The plant is doing well, I figured out the internet, and I have friends now! So things are good.

I found the same dog that me and Ali met on the first day in AMS. Tried to take a cute selfie... Did not succeed.
I found the same dog that me and Ali met on the first day in AMS. Tried to take a cute selfie… Did not succeed.

Sleep hasn’t happened much this week, which is a sign it’s been a good time. More friends from home have been kickin’ it and crashing at my place (still no roommate!) which has been fun. We discovered a very delicious beer (Hertog Jan Weizener), went to a really huge club with pretty bad music, and laughed a lot, among other things. The weather this past weekend was incredible – all the pretty Dutch people were cruisin’ down the canals with their white wine and charcuterie boards all weekend long. I said “I wish I had a boat” at least seventy times. Glenn and Zoe are off on other European adventures now and my cousin Laura leaves in a couple of days, so then I will have this big flat to myself and will have to stop being a tourist and start being a student.7AAAB171-7F86-4964-A53E-FA68A265D9F3AF44166A-5EFF-4148-89B2-F5A5188311C0

I bought a museum pass so I can now go to a number of museums as often as I want all year long, get all cultcha’d and whatnot. Unfortunately the pass doesn’t cover entry into some of Amsterdam’s important (and creatively named) places – The Amsterdam Cheese Museum, Amsterdam Tulip Museum, Sex Museum, Marijuana and Hemp Museum and the Cow Museum, to name a few.

Laura and I went to the Van Gogh Museum and a swingin’ sixties photography exhibit at foam museum this week. I recommend both, if you ever have the chance to go. I could examine Van Gogh’s artwork and read his letters for days. The Swinging Sixties exhibit ends in a few days, so I took some pCAINEE464D4F3-C48A-482A-93BB-9D81B0B6A9C46AB9EEA3-D836-4960-B83D-677A4E13DC92hotos in case you can’t go. It was a real cool exhibit. Makes me want to take photos of beautiful people with black and white film.

Still haven’t bought a bike, there are lots of very obviously stolen ones for cheap at Waterlooplein market, but I don’t really want to support the thieves, so I am going to try to find a legal and cheap one this week.

Ok, that is all for now. Sleep is calling.

2EE4E9D3-EC16-4AFD-A30C-277078D901BA095C441B-A232-4357-A86E-6F8B02B2250B SAIL Amsterdam – a big public event that happens every five years. Tall ships from around the world come to the city. Maritime heritage is celebrated (and lots of pretty Dutch people hang out on boats).

So far.

I have no friends yet so I bought a plant.

PLANT AS FRIENDThis city is magical. I arrived yesterday morning and after getting things set up with some practical matters I met up with Ali, a friend from home who has just moved to a city an hour away from Amsterdam. We walked and talked and explored and then met up with another friend from home, Kelsey, who just finished a semester abroad at the UvA. It was pretty cool for both of us to hang out on my very first day of exchange and her very last. It’s like she passed the exchange torch over. We went to Kelsey’s favourite sandwich place and had her favourite sandwich (squash, bacon, goat cheese, arugula and honey – it might very well become my fave too). We then went to check out my place which is sooooooo fantastic. It is on the third most inner city canal (Prinsensgracht) and is two minutes from the Anne Frank House, ten from Dam Square and ten and a half away from the Jordaan which is a hella neat area with shops and cafes and beautiful people. Today I got up super early and walked around all day. I got lost and found over and over. There is a really big clothing/food market that pops up on Mondays and Saturdays right by my place so I went to that and bought the plant that will act as my friend for now. I still need to figure out the whole internet sitch at my place – there is no wifi and the cable connection doesn’t seem to be working. I’ve figured out some of the nearby wifi spots though (shout out to McDonalds).

The wifi at McDonalds is great, but the music is so not, so I gotta get outta here.

More to come! For now, here are some pictures of animals.


One week!

I leave in one week! It’s been an amazing summer here in the ol’ yyc and as excited as I am to go, I am going to miss all my people here and all the great things about this city. But then I’ll come back! So things are good.

Still haven’t learned any Dutch. “Tot ziens!” is Dutch and is fun to say, but I already forget what it means. Those “Learn Dutch in 3 minutes” YouTube videos aren’t workin’ for me, and DuoLingo is annoying. But I will (maybe) get there.

Anyway, that is all for now.

Edit: After writing this post I decided to try out DuoLingo again and tot ziens means good bye, and so does “doei!” (doo-ee). Dutch is funny. I anticipate frequent confusion.