Hello, random person reading this post. My name is Leo Brodin and I am from Stockholm. I assume that you are considering going to Amsterdam or at least going abroad. If I am wrong and you aren’t considering it, start to do so. It is. totally. worth. it. Still not sold at the idea of leaving everything behind and going abroad on an adventure you won’t forget? Well, I can’t really blame you, all you have read so far is words of praise, five of them in bold text. Let me try to convince you by telling you my story!
I came to Amsterdam on the first of February for my studies at Hogeschool van Amsterdam. The student union met us at the airport and drove us to the places that were going to be our homes for quite a while. For me it was a two-person apartment in Diemen, a suburb 30 minutes away from the city centre by bike. I am writing by bike instead of how far it is because that is what usually matters. Dutch people love their bikes and you will probably learn to as well. I didn’t really like biking in the city due to the pure amount of people everywhere, too much to keep track of. I am the odd one though, most Dutchies and internationals love it. My English flatmate Will always biked everywhere, as did one of my closest friends David. The latter said that he is going to try to keep it up when back at home. Almost all of my classmates and teachers also biked to the university.
Diemen doesn’t have a very good reputation but it is a nice and fairly cheap place for students to live, if you for some reason don’t want to go by bike there is also a train, tram and night bus. Even if you travel in the middle of the night you will never have to wait for more than an hour to get to the bus stop 500 meters away from your place. Daytime the trains and trams go every tenth minute or so. I recommend Diemen for living if you want it cheap and alright without much luxury. There are also events organized there that will help you find many new friends.
With the living explained, let’s go to the studying part. I picked a course with a quite slow pace so if I hadn’t waited until the day before the deadline to start working I wouldn’t have had a lot of stress. Some friends of mine seemed to find it slightly more stressful but I rarely heard that someone couldn’t come due to homework. This is not a vacation, you will be studying, but it isn’t terribly hard. With a bit of effort and energy you’ll most likely survive without being scarred for life. Reward yourself with a Stroopwafel after the studies and you’ll feel great again.
Now to the fun part, celebrations. Amsterdam has good pubs everywhere. Most of them are quite cheap, especially during happy hour. I would recommend you to visit Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein for the best and most options. My favorite bar is Water Hole. It is a rock bar at Leidseplein with nice atmosphere, cheap drinks, live music and lovely staff and guests. It also has pool and even chess boards for whoever wants a game. At Rembrandtplein you will find Cocos, “the student disco”. Every Wednesday night it’s for students only with ridiculous prices like 10 shots for 10 euro. If you are lucky the bartender might even pour some sour down your throat for free. Or you can just chill out with a beer. When it isn’t Wednesday Cocos is one of many nice pubs. And I you don’t like one of these two there will be at least 10 other disco and bar options for you to choose between. You don’t have to get drunk to have fun though, Amsterdam is littered with very nice parks where you can hang out with your friends for a picnic or just a walk. It is a capital city, it has it all.
That is the city of Amsterdam for you, beautiful and full of life but the city isn’t the only reason you should be going, you will learn and experience so much. I had been abroad before when I was eighteen and loved it so I tried to convince as many of my classmates as possible to take the chance to go abroad somewhere. I convinced some and they all loved it. You are going to make friends everywhere and learn to adapt to a completely different place and culture … Despite being a writer I have trouble expressing it in words. Just trust me, it is an experience you’ll never forget and you will be very happy you signed up for this once in a lifetime experience.
Now I’m back in Sweden and living in my apartment on the fifth floor of a building in the middle of Stockholm, before writing this text I was relaxing with a cold beer on my large balcony watching the sunset and after finishing this I will have another one. Would I leave it for another chance to go abroad? Yes, without hesitating. My first time abroad I was eighteen and spent half a year in Germany. I learned to take care of myself. This second time, five years later, I got even better at it. And I had so. Much. Fun. I would like to come up with some great final phrase but can’t think of one and if I wait too long I’ll miss the sunset while drinking my next beer. Goddamnit, just go for it. Go abroad!
Do you want to read more from Leo? Check out his website!
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