A lot have people have asked me why I decided to study abroad in Europe. Admittedly, I am incredibly jealous of everyone who has been able to experience life in an exotic far-off land, especially from the @uomgoabroad Instagram page. However, coming towards my time here in Europe I have never been so glad I picked Amsterdam, and I thought you all deserved to know why..
Being in Europe.
Being on the continent, I have been lucky enough to be able to take trips on weekends to the most amazing cities at incredibly low costs. Balancing your timetable right means there can be so much time spent exploring other cities. For example, this month has I have been able to visit Carcassone, Barcelona, Berlin and Krakow, whilst still keeping up with my university work. Having other countries at such close proximity means that spontaneous trips are always doable (and highly recommended).
Amsterdam is an amazingly beautiful city. Not only are the canals so picturesque, whether it be -1 or 30 degrees, but the architecture and the greenery are also beautiful. For example, Rijksmusem and Centraal Station both by Pierre Cuypers contrast with other buildings like the Hortus Bontanicus and the NEMO. Even biking through Amsterdam at dusk, the rows of houses which are deliberately crooked and each defined by its gables, are enough to make you stop and stare.
Amsterdam has been voted the 5th safest city by the Economist, and the Guardian voted it one of the best cities to be a millennial. Biking everywhere means transport is not only affordable but also free – so you always have a way to get home. Also, walking/biking/public transport on your own at any our is completely safe. Being a young woman alone, Amsterdam is probably one of the safest cities you can be.
In Amsterdam you can buy a Museumkaart for about 60 euros. This will last you a year and gives you free entry about 99% of museums and exhibitions. For example, Anne Frank Huis, The Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, The Modern Art Museum, World Photo Press Exhibition etc etc. This means firstly, you end up saving an awful lot of money (Van Gogh and Rijksmeum tickets are 20 euros each). Additionally, it means you can dip in and out whenever. In between classes or on a free day you can spend an hour or five in any museum and leave when you’ve have enough.
The bars and cafes
Amsterdam has so many cute cafes to study/have coffee/an afternoon beer. There’s two amazing blogs which I use to keep up with the latest openings and menu changes: Your Little Black Book and Awesome Amsterdam. However, I have a couple of personal favourites which I will recommend. Firstly, Hannekes Boom is a great place to have lunch or drinks and is tourist free. It is situated in the East and overlooks the canal across from NEMO and the Ship Museum – the most beautiful view. Secondly, I would recommend Amsterdam Roest and Waterkant. Each is mostly attended by Dutch people and serving food and holding different nights several days a week.
If you go to study or even visit Amsterdam, you’ll notice boat parties are on 24/7. A quick internet search and you’ll find loads of places that let you privately hire boats and let you cruise around the canals at your own pace. My friends and I found one for 13 euros pp for a group of 9, to hire for 3 hours. So please, don’t waste your money on a canal cruise!
Biking everywhere sounded like a lot of effort to me when I first moved to Amsterdam. But after realising how much public transport is, and how much fun biking is, I have been fully converted. Whether convoying in a group after a night out or biking home alone after a lecture, biking is such a quiker way to get around and an excellent way to burn off some steam. Heads up, I would recommend hiring a bike, as hire bikes tend to not get stolen, and trust me a lot of bikes get stolen.
Bold claim here, but I think Amsterdam has some of the best hoummus in the world. Or at least it definitely felt that way. Also, stroopwafels, normal waffles, hagelslag and the bread are to die for! You may end up weighing half-a-stone more when you return, but it’s 100% worth it.
Studying in Amsterdam was something I was really nervous about. Admittedly, the teachers and super-helpful and the administration leaves a lot to be desired, but the teaching over all is pretty laid back. This was a happy change to the University of Manchester in certain respects, such as less exam-stress come the end of the module.
The best thing about Amsterdam without a shadow of a doubt has been the memories I’ve made here. I’ve been so lucky as to make the most amazing group of friends from all over the world. Looking back, I was so scared to go abroad alone for six months and not see any of my friends or family. But now, I have all these moments to look back on, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Here’s to Amsterdam..