Tuesday, February 10, 2015


I think the best part about being an international student is that there are tons of other kids who, like me, are completely lost as we've all been plopped into a foreign country. Since arriving I've discovered that the first week of the semester feels a lot like freshman year of college, where everyone is new and overly willing to make friends.

Having a new group of friends has been great, since everyone arrived with different suggestions on where to go, what to do, and what to see. Sunday morning, at the request of one of my new friends, we hopped on the ferry to IJ-Hallen, the biggest flea market in Europe.

This. Place. Is. Huge

It's housed in two massive warehouses that were once used for ship building. You actually have to pay 5 euros to get in, which may seem strange but trust me, once you get inside it's worth the entry fee considering how ridiculously cheap things are. I bought a coat for 10 euros, a striped shirt for 5 euros brand-new Zara sweater for ONE EURO. 

If you're just browsing and need a snack, there are several food trucks selling hot food like poffertjes and fries. We waited 15 minutes just to get fries from a truck and it was totally worth it.

This is my roommate and she is AWESOME. Notice our matching hats and near-matching outfits?

If you're looking for a way to kill a few hours on a weekend, the flea market at IJ-Hallen is worth it.

In addition to sharing a few pics from our market trip, I wanted to share a few more pictures of my neighborhood and the views that I am lucky enough to see every single day. 

Amsterdam is treating me pretty well so far! I've got a few trips coming up in the next few weeks so stay tuned!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Day Trip

The best part about going to school in Amsterdam is that so many other students chose this as a study abroad destination. As as a result, the schools' International Student Network is always organizing trips and events. Saturday I finally got out of the city for the first time all week as we all ventured off to Volendam and Zaanse Schans.

Our first stop was in Volendam, a small fishing village north-east of Amsterdam that is known for it's traditional style. Both towns are a bit touristy but who can resist? Especially since our trip included taking photos in traditional Dutch costume...so go ahead and picture me in wooden shoes holding a giant basket of cheese wheels.

These adorable houses run up and down the street, and look at their view!

I mean, really? I would love to have one of these little houses and look out on to the water every morning. 

I want to become friends with someone who has a boat (particularly a houseboat in Amsterdam) and ride around. But sitting on the dock and wishing will have to do for now...

I also finally had poffertjes, which are essentially tiny, fluffy pancakes. I'm already in love with stroopwafels and waffles, so now I just have one more delicious fattening street food addiction!

After filling ourselves with sweets and fried fish and chips for lunch, we hopped back on our bus and headed to Zaanse Schans. If you've seen pictures of lots of windmills, you've probably been looking at pictures of Zaanse Schans. 

Again, this place is super touristy and most Dutch people don't go, but it's cute and somewhat traditional- and besides, who doesn't love a good photo op?

Zaanse Schans is also home to several mini-museums, including one devoted to the making of wooden clogs. 

You wander through little pathways and over bridges, working your way through the town. You can also loop along the waterfront where all the windmills are lined up. 

We got irrationally excited about this- this is the original Albert Heijn. For those of you who have never been to the Netherlands that means nothing. But AH is the biggest grocery store over here, and it seems like Amsterdam has one on every block. Albert took over the store from his parents in 1887, and they've been popping up ever since. 

My Hofstra people may recognize this....I'm not sure why it was inside Albert Heijn, but this looks exactly like Hofstra's crest, which was inspired by the royal house of the Netherlands (Hofstra has a very Dutch history). 

Though a bit touristy, if you're in the Netherlands for a while and want a quick day trip, Volendman and Zaanse Schans are both solid options for a fun, Dutch-filled day. 

We're headed off to Rotterdam and the Hague next weekend, and I'm currently trying to plan a few other trips, so I hope y'all are ready for some seriously photo-heavy posts over the next few months! And if anyone has suggestions for fun trips, either in the Netherlands or other parts of Europe I'd love to hear them!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Amsterdam Updates!

Hello from Amsterdam!

Sorry for the radio silence, I JUST got wifi (and connected it all by myself!), but I wanted to update everyone so far.

I'm officially done with my first week of classes! The school system here is very different, so I only take 2 classes at a time- we switch halfway through the semester and I take 2 new classes- so I'm only in class 3 days a week for 2 hours. However, this gives me tons of time to explore my new city! I bought a bike (!!!!) and while I am painfully slow I've realized how necessary a bike is in this city. I've even become pretty skilled at locking and unlocking while keeping my gloves on.

Sorry that this post is more wordy than photo-heavy, those will come soon enough! Be assured, Amsterdam is beautiful, but since I'm usually whipping around on my bike I can't stop to take it all in with my camera. But I'm headed south to Zaanse Schans this weekend with the university's international program, and next weekend we're off to Rotterdam and the Hague! So be ready for a flurry of photos as I test out my new camera (thanks to Amanda for the suggestion!).

For now, here's a little glimpse of my home for the next 4 months.

The canal next to my apartment.

My bike! The only way I can find it in the crowd is the pink stripe and obnoxious pink bell!

I may or may not have yelled, "Those are the houses from Pinterest!" 

My mom and I were super confused as to why all the buildings were crooked or leaning forward. But during our boat cruise with all the international students they explained that many buildings lean forward because, since houses and staircases were so narrow, all houses had a hook on the top floor that they would use to haul cargo/furniture/anything else from the street up into the house and through the windows! Many houses lean forward so that the cargo wouldn't hit the facade of the house on the way up! This method isn't really used anymore, but most houses still have the hook hanging from the little bar that sticks out at the top! Still no word on why so many houses are tilted so far to the side...if anyone knows I would love to hear!

My first Vlaamse Frites with Belgian mayo!

I just took this photo on the way home from the "shop." The weather here has (thankfully) been beautiful. There are no clouds today at all, but don't let the blue skies fool you, it's still chilly!

If anyone has been to/lived in Amsterdam and has suggestions on where to eat, what to do, or sights that I must see, let me know!! I'm excited to get to know my new home!