No matter how dark the night is, the sun will always shine again.

Yesterday was my first day of class and it was terrible. The only good thing about it was the fact that class is right by my apartment. Walking to class is actually closer here than at the dorms to main campus at Chapman! Anyway, my professor had a very thick accent and would add ‘duh’ at the end of every other word. It just happens that Regulations and Reform is probably the most boring class to take. On top of that, I had so much difficulty finding a group to be in for our group paper and presentation. It seemed like everyone had group members right away and did not have room for another. I literally had to make someone let me in their group. It was awful. After being overly frustrated, I walked back home and sulked for the rest of that night. The bad class and snooty people in it was just the cherry on top of it all. I wanted to cry.

Today, however, is a different story. Although waking up early was kind of difficult, I honestly did not mind at all! Class gave me a reason to get my day started earlier so I’m quite thankful for that. Today, I had Development Economics. I bumped into Michelle, another Chapman student whom I had just met and coincidentally, the last two Chapman students I haven’t met were also in my class. We all sat together and decided to be in a group. We discussed poverty and inequality today and it was quite enjoyable. He even offered the poorest student in our class 5 euro! …I don’t think anybody took it though. We ended up taking several breaks in between, just like my first class. Both classes I’ve had have been 3 hours each so every 45 minutes, we would take a 10 to 15 minute break which was really nice.

After class ended, I headed home to drop off my backpack and grab directions on Google Maps. I wanted to go explore and check things out on my own a bit, since everything I’ve been doing has been with Emily, Jamie, and Chris. I also was looking to get tapestry and to check out the bikes at the Waterloopleinmarkt, the flea market somewhat close by my apartment. I took the Metro to Nieuwmarkt and walked to Pott Exchange in Dam Square (no, not for weed) to exchange some of the American money I had. It is quite expensive to pull money out through ATMs here with my bank from home. Now, I’m just waiting for my Dutch bank account to get approved so I can just use that. After getting off the Metro, I had to take a couple of smaller streets to get to Pott Exchange. When I say small, I mean small! You would never think cars could fit through there. I’ll have to take photos next time. I stumbled through the Red Light District and saw a prostitute for the first time. I actually got scared because I didn’t see her in the window and she moved, looking at me. I ended up jumping back a bit. Oops.

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Since it was a beautiful day out, I was able to take in the scenery a bit and grab some awesome photos. I finally made my way over to Waterlooplein and ordered some frites with mosterd which are just fries in a cone with mustard. I still haven’t had the good kind yet, so I’m waiting for that. I also need to try their stroopwafels, which are supposed to be amazing as well! I walked around a bit and browsed through the bikes and random stuff they were selling and ended up eating a late lunch at Bagels and Beans. I had a bagel (obviously) and a latte inspired by Emily and Jamie, my coffee addicted friends. Bad idea, because caffeine and I don’t go so well together. I probably would have been some good entertainment since I felt like I was going crazy! Anyway, I hung out there for a bit and just relaxed.

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I ended up coming home with a super cute elephant tapestry and a bike! I passed through one of the bike sections and didn’t really see anything for me since all the Dutch people are so tall (none for the shorties!). I figured I could just go out again another day but luckily I found a dingy little black one right before I left the Markt that worked well for me! They gave it to me for 65 euro which was around the price everyone suggested I get one for and the lock was 10 euro on top of that. I handed him two 50s and ended up getting 36 euro back so I actually got it all for 64 euro instead! Apparently Dutch people don’t like spending money and are super thrifty with everything so I think I’m going to fit right in!

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I biked home which I’ll admit, was pretty scary. My ISN coaches told us you get to see a lot more of the city when you’re on a bike and they were definitely right! It only took me 5 or so minutes to get home and I ended up enjoying it a lot! I can’t wait for my next bike ride!

Eva

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On settling in

These last couple of days have been hectic to say the least.. ISN or the International Student Network provided us with an incredibly jam-packed schedule to get to know the city a little better. We were split off into many groups and I was able to meet a ton of people from all over the world! Now that the introduction week is over, I finally have a bit of time for myself to settle in before class starts tomorrow. Luckily, the University of Amsterdam works on a semester based system, splitting each semester into three different blocks. In this first block, I am only taking two classes: Regulation, Regulatory Impact and Reform and Development Economics. That means I’ll only be having lecture and discussion for a couple of hours each day, with no class on Fridays! I’ll have a ton of free time to explore the city, look for some cheap markets, and even get me a bike. It is crazy how much biking and walking people do here. Even the public transportation is completely reliable, although it isn’t quite so when you go towards the wrong direction… I also finally bought an OV Chipkaart today, which allows me to use all public transportation in the Netherlands.

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Although it has only been a few days here, it’s time to settle into my new home. I guess it is finally time to acknowledge the fact that I am going to be living here for 5 whole months. It seems like such a long time from now but I know that it’ll pass right by. That means, learning how to bike in this crazy city, knowing where to go and how to get there, and of course, learning some Dutch.

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It’ll take some time getting used to this place but it’ll get easier. Every day I am here, I find something intriguingly different that it blows my mind. It is truly amazing and such a joy being able to completely get lost here.

Eva

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First night in the Dam!

As I got on the plane to Texas, I was happily overwhelmed with goodbye and safe travels texts from some of my favorite people. Upon jetting down the runway, I decided to check my email one last time, just out of habit. I was incredibly shocked and thrilled to see that I had received an email from Ryan O’Rourke, one of the directors of Associated Fraternal Leadership and Values’ (AFLV) LeaderShape, notifying me that I have been chosen as one of the On-Site Coordinators for the session at UCLA in August. Many of you may not know, but I attended a session of the LeaderShape Institute on scholarship from my sorority just last summer and immediately fell in love with the program. So, to find out that I was selected as one of the coordinators to help assist with the upcoming session just as I was leaving was the absolute cherry on top of my day. Flying out to Amsterdam to start the greatest experience of my life (so far, anyway) and being able to go back to the place that has shaped me into the woman I am today… Life is wonderful!

My connecting flight to Amsterdam also went very well. I was able to sit in the middle row, aisle seat, while not having anyone in front of me, behind me, and even next to me. I managed to watch Bad Teacher and Sex Tape as well as a couple of Friends episodes too. The rest of my day went by fairly smoothly, with a couple of bumps in the road, of course. I made a couple of friends from around the world and even had someone to grab lunch with after moving into my apartment! Thanks Chris! Since we lived in the same building and are in the same faculty, Chris and I decided to check out the business school a bit, to get a feel of things and what our surroundings are. Luckily, our apartment building is right next to the school. Walking to classes is going to be a breeze but finding them, however, is another story. Although I didn’t quite like my apartment at first, I know it’ll grow on me. It’s a cute, cozy little apartment off Sarphatistraat, a word which I definitely need to learn how to pronounce. Don’t worry, I’m working on it. I knocked out for a couple of hours and was joined by roommate Daniella and her friend, whom which I both met while sleeping. Oops. Later on, Emily’s mom and aunt came by to take us to dinner. I was starving. As usual. We ended up at Majestic, a nice restaurant right in Dam Square.

ISN Introduction Week starts tomorrow and I have to start my day a little earlier and figure my life out. It’ll be interesting exploring the city a bit on my own before heading over to our meeting point. Overall, my first day was just alright. There were great parts and there were some not so great parts. Between not being able to enter my apartment, the crazy wind chill, and just being incredibly exhausted, I am ready for a much better second day in the city!

Eva

Edit: Oh! And the fact that getting a beer is cheaper than getting some water is ridiculous!

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See you in later, America!

In less than 8 hours, I will be boarding my flight to Amsterdam and beginning the crazy adventure that will be my life for five months. I’m excited but anxious, thankful yet scared completely shitless. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to study abroad. This has always been a dream of mine and after months and months of applications and paperwork, it is finally coming true! I wouldn’t have able to take the plunge and put myself so far out of my comfort zone without the help of my parents, friends, sisters, and Chapman University itself. Thank you all!

Although I know I’m going to miss home immensely, all my goodbyes and see you laters have been said (even to you, In N Out). Putting my life here in the States on hold is kind of crazy, but I know the adventure awaits.

..Hopefully I can get some sleep tonight.

Eva

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