I have so many things to tell you about Amsterdam, but I don’t know where to start. The reaction of every person before my departure was always the same: «Will you go to the coffee shops?» or «Be careful and don’t lose yourself in the Red Light District». If you don’t know Amsterdam these are the first things that people think about, but they aren’t the only things that this city offers.
So, I took my luggage and I went in this magical city. They told me that a northern European city is colder than anywhere in Italy. For a girl who came from Sardinia, it was difficult at the beginning and also weird to come back home from the center (I lived in Amstelveen, in the Uilenstede campus) with a polar cold and my new bicycle with pedal brakes.
I want to emphasize pedal brakes because in Italy it’s not common to have this kind of bicycle because most of them have hand brakes. Do you know how difficult it is to get used to cycling in Amsterdam with these bicycles? Very difficult and I can tell you that I fell off four times, but once you get used to it you feel strong.
The first day I came to Uilenstede I had a taste of how nice Dutch people are. I had just come down from the tram with two suitcases and a Dutch guy asked me if I needed help with the big suitcase. When we arrived in front of the campus I couldn’t believe my eyes. The campus was huge! It seemed like a small town and at the entrance there was a sign like “IAMSTERDAM” which, however, said “UILENSTEDE.” The guy brought me to “Il Caffè”, the bar on the campus where people from the university accepted the new arrivals. When he left me it seemed like I just entered an episode of some TV show and that it was the beginning of the episode before the song. That was how I started this experience.
At the university you were helped for everything. The professors were always available and very caring towards you as a person and not as a simple student. There was a period in April when it was always cold and it rained so much and I admit that I wasn’t in a good mood because of the weather. But every time the sun came out I realized how beautiful Amsterdam was. People were smiling and you could walk through the streets and find new things. And if the weather wasn’t the best, there was always someone that helped me go back to my true self with a gesture or a simple word. I’m talking about the people I met, my roommates and my friends. When you travel it’s normal that you want to find someone to share your days with and to make new experiences with.It seems like there is always that common feeling and everyone wants to make a group of friends, to not think about home. So those people will be your everyday life for those few months, you’ll spend all the day together and you’ll go with them to grab a beer in a pub or to sunbath at Vondelpark.
The thing I liked most when I was in Amsterdam was sitting in front of the Amstel River near the campus when it was a nice day or going near Rembrandtplein and listening to the noise of the bells. Have you ever heard the bells in Amsterdam? Well, they have something extremely musical when they play and I liked to listen to that sound that made me feel at home. If I have to describe Amsterdam, I would say that Amsterdam is the noise of the bicycle wheels that you can listen around you when everything is silent. Ah anyway, I finally went in the coffee shops!
My Erasmus experience in Amsterdam wasn’t the first because I went in Spain four years ago. I’m an Italian girl and I recently graduated in Digital Humanities at the University of Pisa, although I come from Sardinia. I think that the Erasmus is the best experience ever and for that I’m always available to talk about it and to share my experiences with the people.
By Serena Caria