For most of my life, my home has been New York City. When I was younger, moving across an ocean was as rare of an idea to me as learning a completely new language. But as I got older, my love for traveling grew and my love for New York dulled. When I found out I was moving to Amsterdam, I didn’t feel much besides excitement. Yes, I did miss a few people, but the fact that I was going somewhere far, far away made it worth it.
Within the first week of living in Amsterdam, the differences were extremely noticeable. One of the biggest contrasts were the modes of transportation. The most popular way to get around in Amsterdam was on a bike. I was definitely not used to seeing more bikes than cars, especially in a big city. Big signs warned pedestrians to stay clear of the bike lanes instead of warnings about being hit by cars. One wrong step and you would be hit. The second and third most popular modes of transportation were the very clean and orderly train and the tram. The farther out you went from the heart of the city (het centrum) the more trains, busses or trams were used.
Another big difference I noticed was how people regarded each other. Besides the odd drunk person, most of the attitudes here would brighten anyone’s day and definitely made me a much happier person. It wasn’t rare to have a conversation with a person you met not even a few seconds before. But it’s not even just on the streets. Teachers, co-workers, even the fast food clerks, from what I’ve experienced, are different than what you usually see here. Almost everything was more laid back. It doesn’t seem like this attitude should work, but it really does!
The laid back environment cut down a lot of the stress that I got in New York, especially school stress. School in Amsterdam was similar to America in terms of schedules. However, in terms of work and teaching style it was pretty different. It focused more on interacting with each other in Dutch and classwork performance instead of constant testing. I much prefer school in Amsterdam over school in America because of this. Although I spent just a short amount of time in Amsterdam, I can say that Amsterdam is my favorite home.
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