Abigail Herd (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands)
The 17th September marked a month of my time in Amsterdam, a city which I am now proud to call home. Within a month of being here I have completely fallen in love with the city, country and people.
My first week was jam packed and consisted of days full of organised activities which were hosted by the ISN (International Student Network). The activities included visiting Vondelpark, the zoo, international food night and taking part in a ‘sports day’. As well as this there were organised club nights at Undercurrent in Amsterdam Noord, Coco’s and Melkweg which are in the city centre. The whole week was very well thought out and the perfect opportunity to mingle with other exchange students. It also helped to make the city feel smaller and give us a chance to find our way around.
The second week was probably the most difficult in terms of being homesick. Lectures had not started and once the ISN week ended it was harder to meet people. I suddenly felt much more alone than I had in the first week. However, by the end of the week I had made more friends and explored much more of the city and its nightlife.
The third week was the beginning of the academic term and classes began. It did not take long for me to see the differences between studying in Amsterdam compared to Manchester. Firstly, there is a much more relaxed vibe in the lectures, with students often stopping the lecturer to ask questions. I also have a lot more contact hours here, being in university around 18 hours a week rather than 10 hours in Manchester. However, from what I have learnt this is unique to the science faculty as many of my friends here in the social sciences only have around 6 hours per week. Furthermore, there are a lot more deadlines, with weekly homework hand-ins each Monday. During the week I also went to another ISN night out, visited NDSM in Noord Amsterdam and went to see the Banksy exhibition at the Moco Museum.
Week four started with me and my friends attending an ISN hosted film night about Dutch culture – the film was about Heineken’s kidnapping…something I previously knew nothing about. During the week I also explored De Pijp – a very cool area in Amsterdam, as well as going bouldering for the first time! The week ended with another ISN organised event called the ‘Semester Opening Party’ which was an all day party. This week was by far my favourite as I feel like I have finally settled in to life abroad and we had the added bonus of great weather!
After of a month of being in Amsterdam I can honestly say I am so happy that I decided to study abroad and that I have the opportunity to spend the next year here!! Of course there have been lows such as feeling homesick, but they do not compare to how many great days I have already had.