From late-night conversations to last-minute trips to Albert Hein, my second week in the Netherlands has been filled with laughter thanks to my hilarious roommate Rachel. As the Boston local she is, she has helped me become accustomed to the cultural differences between the United States and Amsterdam and has served as a catalyst for friendship for so many of the people I have met here so far. The week began with our outing to Amsterdam Centrum to try the famous Dutch fries with mayonnaise. Together we strolled around, enjoying our local snack along the canals lining the street.
As I mentioned, Rachel introduced me to two of her friends who happened to be exchange students from Virginia. Together, we are planning a trip to Utrecht this weekend. I’m looking forward to exploring the Netherlands by train as I have become fairly comfortable with the tram and the metro here. Public transport in this country is significantly different from the system that is set up in my home city of Salt Lake. Although I live in my state’s capital, there is not as much of a pressure on residents to take public transit as a means of travel, unlike the system in place here. I have never seen so many bikes in my life-I’m even considering getting one myself for cycling trips with friends. I highly appreciate this element of the country’s sustainable development as it is very organized, more convenient than traveling by car, and clean. It is evident that the environment here is well kept and the people who live here care to support reducing pollution by paying slightly higher prices for getting around but not compromising the efficacy of their public transit.
Another element of Amsterdam culture that stood out to me this week was cafe culture, once again. I’ve spent a few days going out to the Centrum and scouting unique cafes with Rachel and Bea, and have loved every second of it. The dining etiquette was something I had to get used to as tipping culture is not as prevalent here for service. I am so used to tipping twenty percent in the United States, whereas here, it is not an assumed additional cost. Every cafe I have been to so far has continued to remind me of Bosnian coffee as it is a rich, bold flavor that doesn’t exist in a more American alternative. One of my goals these few months is to find an authentic Balkan restaurant and use my Bosnian to my advantage in immersing myself in my Eastern European roots.
With all of the excitement of being in a new country, I haven’t missed Utah very much at all. One of my main worries about studying abroad was missing my home and thankfully, taking this risk has proved my worries wrong. Time to book my tickets to Utrecht!