At last, after a week in the Netherlands and a couple days in Amsterdam, we have finally earned our bikes. Since I’m short, the bike shop, Recycle, gave me a children’s bike which is slightly embarrassing, but at least I get a colorful bike instead of a boring gray one. My bike is blue, orange, and yellow, and she’s got a cute little bell on her. I’m excited to explore Amsterdam on a bike and be able to get around in ten minutes instead of half an hour. This city is run by bikers; we (I can say “we” now) have our own paths marked on the streets, our own signs, and if a car hits us it’s always their fault.
I was pretty worried about keeping up on a bike, being severely out of shape and not ready to exercise to school everyday, but my friend and I successfully biked home today! After I got back, I did the conversions to find out how long we biked for and come to find out… the route from school back home is six miles. To go to school and then come back is twelve miles in total, not to mention going on trips to the local museums or to grab a bite to eat during lunch. I’m even more worried about being able to keep up now, though I think that after a couple months I’m not going to want to give my bike up!
For our first full day of this program, we spent the afternoon learning about biking in Amsterdam. The city is incredibly organized, and so bikers have their own lanes, signs, and streetlights to follow. As learning how to bike in the city would be disastrous, our program coordinators actually brought us to the countryside where learning is a lot easier. Living in the city, I will get to bike to class everyday!
The weather is similar to Ohio’s this time of year, pretty chilly and windy. Holland is also very flat, and in the country it definitely feels like I’m still at home! Though, instead of corn and soy beans, all of the fields here become tulips in the Spring. Today, to get the feel for biking on Amsterdam roads, we biked to the beach and everyone got hot chocolate at a small beachside restaurant before we biked back to the hostel we’re staying in. There are 25 students on this program, and everyone is so nice! Staying in the hostel has helped us all get to know each other; it’s really nice, because we are all able to bond over our interests in gender studies and traveling.
Today we also got letters from our homestay hosts, though we don’t meet them until Friday. I’m going to be living with a host mom, named Anne, in the north end of the city, and I’ll get to take a short ferry ride every day to get to the city center. We head to Amsterdam on Thursday.
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