Lindsey Williams is a senior in International Studies at the University of Utah. She spent the Fall 2010 semester studying at the Universiteit van Amsterdam throught ISEP.
Amsterdam is unlike any city I have traveled to for many reasons. Amsterdam has more traffic from bicycles than cars, more museums than one could dream of and people from all over the world. Unlike most other major European cities, Amsterdam manages to be both homey and wildly diverse at the same time, with a deeply historic heritage running throughout the city. I expected Amsterdam to be big and dirty with loads of drug use and prostitution, though to some extent both are legal, these aspects do not overpower the culture in Amsterdam. The Dutch are tall, beautiful and intelligent people that do not fall into the generic stereotypes made for them by outsiders.
Along with adjusting to a new city and culture came a major adjustment to the climate. If you’ve read anything about Holland, you have probably read that it is rainy and this is correct. Make sure you have waterproof shoes and a good rain jacket; you will definitely get your money’s worth while in Amsterdam. The weather did vary and I enjoyed some great sunny days at Vondel Park, but I also learned that life keeps going in the rain. I began to appreciate and notice the different subtleties in the clouds and types of rain; biking in the rain became second nature.
Buying a bike was essential to participating in Dutch culture and was my main means of daily transportation to and from school, the city and the grocery store. Life in Amsterdam moved at a more leisurely pace, distant from the fast pace that many Americans have grown accustomed to, which allowed for time to soak up every moment of Amsterdam.