I feel like people tend to skip the negative things a lot when talking about their exchange experiences. The things you miss usually show what is most important to you and also what you take for granted at home. Keep on reading to find out what I missed most during my time in Amsterdam!
Food is a very controversial topic and especially the Dutch are notoriously known for not having an impressive cuisine. Well, unless you are impressed by all types of cheese on toast, fried unidentifiable objects and no seasoning at all. As one of my teachers here put it “There’s countries that eat to live and there’s countries that live to eat” and the Netherlands is definitely part of the first group.
The Dutch usually don’t spend a lot of time eating, as work is deemed more important, so they hardly have a hot meal until in the late afternoon or evening. I’m from Austria, and to us food is a valuable part of social life, and shoving it down is mainly considered rude and unhealthy. Aside from the cultural difference, you might want to consider bringing some salt or seasoning mix wherever you go as most food tastes just… bland.
I don’t know why but I honestly did not expect to notice such a difference in weather conditions. It is fascinating how Europe is not big but the weather changes so drastically. Basically, there was no real winter here in the Netherlands, i.e. it’s cold but there was no snow at all. The whole country only gets like two now days per year and that’s when they tell people not to drive and to stay inside for safety reasons. Honestly, if they did that in Austria I probably wouldn’t be allowed to step outside for two months straight.
Spring, on the other hand, is extreme though. The weather changes quickly and abruptly, one minute the sun is shining and the next minute you think you’re in the middle of a hurricane. Winds are so strong during spring and autumn that you can hardly walk straight.
My Daily Routine
This makes me sound super conservative and traditional, but yes I am someone who likes to have routines and a structure in their daily life. I think no one on exchange really has any fixed routines, you just go with the flow and try out new things. This definitely is a great thing to develop and grow out of your comfort zone, but I think I couldn’t keep on living like this forever.
Going to the Gym
Ok, I guess this officially counts towards the preceding point, but please let me elaborate on it. At home, I was used to going to the gym two to three times a week. Here in Amsterdam it was really hard to fit going to the gym into any routine because, well, I didn’t have any routines! Every single day is different and you often end up going somewhere spontaneously. Especially us girls know how hard it is to align your hair-washing days with going to the gym and attending social events.
Aside from that, the gym at The Student Hotel doesn’t have a ladies’ section and I was not a big fan of that decision. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel uncomfortable around guys at the gym… but they stare no matter what. Considering most of my gym routines involve squatting to some degree, it was a no from me.
My Friends and Family
Ok, this is a very stereotypical thing to say, but I had to do it anyway. I feel like you often have to spend some time on your own to appreciate the people around you more. Especially living on my own in Amsterdam taught me how convenient living at home is and how weird it is to come home to an empty room.
Also, I think the friends you make one exchange are friends for a lifetime, but I also missed my friends from back home. Sometimes you just need someone who has known you for a longer time and knows your background.
Ok, this basically applies to any pet (even if you have a turtle or a goldfish). I just missed coming home and having my doggo greet me with an excessive amount of tail-wagging and jumping. I get so sad thinking about how dogs don’t get that you are not gone forever and will return. I swear I must have facetimed my dog more often than any of my friends or family.
What were some of the things you missed during your exchange?