Currently, I am sat at the airport on my way back to Amsterdam for the beginning of semester two. Circling my mind I have so many thoughts about the last four months, which prompted me to write a post to reflect on my first semester abroad.
I have already written a blog post about my first month in the Netherlands, which gives a much more in-depth story of how I settled in, but I think it would be good to touch on it again. Since moving to Amsterdam in august I have loved living in the amazing city, which has such a cosmopolitan feel. The ISN intro week was definitely a perfect way to begin my study abroad as it introduced me to people, some of whom I can now proudly call my best friends! It also enabled me to get a feel for the city in a semi ‘supervised’ environment, which meant that you got to go to lots of different places but didn’t get lost while getting there. They also hosted a pretty damn fun semester opening party (see picture below).
Initially after the intro week I felt quite lonely, which was exacerbated by the beginning of the academic term. Joining a class full of dutch students, who have all known each other for one or two years was quite daunting to say the least. I was expecting to meet lots of other exchange students, which was not the case in the science faculty. However, I quickly bonded with dutch students due to a field trip to Luxembourg (which revolved around digging lots of soil pits…FUN).
As the weeks rolled on I became closer friends with the people who I met within the first few weeks of uni. I quickly discovered that the reason exchange students ‘stick together’ is because it is far easier to mingle with other exchange students than it is native students (especially when they are speaking dutch and I have no clue what is going on). However, it is not impossible to become good friends with dutch students as I do have a few!
During my first semester abroad I visited numerous places, such as Utrecht, Rotterdam, the Hague, Paris and Luxembourg (places which I would never have experienced without already being in Europe). I have also been to SO many delicious restaurants (like Vegan Junk Food Bar) and experienced the “2 Euro tacos” in the park (see picture below).
The night life in Amsterdam is great, I would say it is just as good or better than Manchester (except for the lack of late night food!) We have been to lots of clubs but also quite a few organised nights out. One of my favourites was a ‘boat gala party’ which you got to dress up for (picture below).
I have already has so many experiences from studying abroad and I’m so happy that I have another semester to enjoy. Although, at times it has been hard to be so far away from my family, friends and boyfriend I would not change any of it. However, one downside of staying the whole year away is that friends whom are only studying for one semester leave you! Friendships form fast abroad, probably because you are aware of how little time you’ll have together. Despite this, without studying in Amsterdam I would never have had an opportunity to meet these people (so you’ve gotta be grateful for that). I cannot wait to be back in Dam, to have another semester with some of my favourite people and visit more places!