Greetings friends! I am currently feeling rather pretentious, sitting in a Starbucks as I type away on WordPress and listen to the Lumineers… help… but it’s time to update the blog!

This weekend some friends from U of I and I took a two-night trip to Amsterdam. After an extremely early flight Friday morning, we arrived, not really sure what to expect from the city. It’s definitely an interesting place! The city itself is very pretty, full of canals and old, gorgeous buildings. It reminded me of Venice and, from what I’ve seen in pictures, Prague. As far as I know, Amsterdam is not home to much history, though it is home to a couple of industries I won’t be mentioning here in an effort to keep this blog rated mostly PG. However, I will say that I am honestly baffled at the types of things that are legal in Holland. Okay, moving on….

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Am I in Amsterdam or Venice?

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Despite the fact that I look hopelessly American, I was asked for directions twice…

 

Friday we indulged in some of Holland’s delicious food- pancakes and fries to name a few things- which was delicious as always, though I have to admit I’m actually looking forward to getting home and starting to eat healthily… all this heavy Euro food is amazing but I’m genuinely concerned my summer clothes won’t fit me like they used to. Such an abroad problem 😉

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Nomzzzz

We walked around and got to know the city a little bit, found the hostel, and took a much needed short nap before heading back out to the Heineken Factory. Much like the Guinness Factory in Dublin, they created a fantastic experience that’s much more than just how the beer is made- there were different ad campaigns (yay ads!), history, interactive games, free samples, a boat tour, etc. It was fun! I actually don’t like Heineken at all so the free samples weren’t really doing it for me, but it was still a good time. After, we wandered around until we found the IAmsterdam sign, which is a photo-happy tourist’s favorite spot in Amsterdam. Feeling pretty goofy after our free samples (there were a lot of samples), we had a long and obnoxious photo shoot that resulted in some pretty amusing photos. Finally, we ate a delicious dinner at a stir fry place and went to bed pathetically early, though it was much needed after our long day and 3am wakeup call!

ImageI’m normal.

 

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Pretty friends and me!

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“I” for Illini!

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“Wheeee!”

Saturday was a pretty chill day. We started off with a delicious breakfast (see below)! For some reason, Holland is obsessed with the “English breakfast,” which is a huge meal consisting of fried eggs, toast, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, and sausages. It’s actually sort of ridiculous but I gotta admit it’s great. We walked around and explored the city and its many canals before taking our Heineken boat tour, as it had been full the day before. The tour ended at a giant Heineken souvenir shop where we all got free bottle openers, which was pretty legit. Next, we continued walking towards the Anne Frank house/museum, where we took a tour. Unfortunately, I had never read the book in school so I didn’t know much about it (brief tangent- honestly, how does Grayslake pick the books we read? Why have I read stupid books like Watership Down and A House on Mango Street but not Anne Frank’s diary? Can anyone explain this to me?) but it was still very touching. I am becoming slightly concerned at all the tragic history I have gone out of my way to see this semester; it’s kind of a morbid interest I guess but well worth learning about. Funnily enough, if you haven’t heard already, Justin Bieber had been at the house just the day before! After the museum, we found dinner and then dessert, of course, before taking a quick detour to the Red Light District. We wandered through the sketchy alleys that are, indeed, lit up with red lights, for about 1.5 minutes before deciding we had gotten the gist and escaping. Too weird. Finally, we headed back to the hostel before exploring the night life. Interestingly, going out was the least expensive part of our trip- apparently Amsterdam believes in good drink deals, though everything else was absurdly expensive.

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More nomz

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I felt kind of weird smiling next to this, but…

Sunday we packed up our stuff and headed out to Keukenhof, a famous tulip garden just outside the city. Before going into that, I would first like to congratulate myself for being able to pack for 3 and 4 day trips in a single backpack. This is not an easy feat, guys, but I can do it now! However, my backpack weighed as much as a small child, so luckily we were able to find storage at the airport before catching a bus to the garden. The garden was insanely beautiful; I have never seen so many tulips and flowers in my entire life- and a lot of them hadn’t even bloomed yet! My friends and I walked around admiring them and taking a bunch of pictures, enjoying the beautiful weather- no jackets needed! After a couple hours there, it was time to head back home to Dublin. Unfortunately, the hour-long flight was absolutely miserable as I had a pretty nasty head cold, which, combined with the pressure from the flight, was enough to make me worried my head was actually going to explode. My right ear still hasn’t popped yet! But, it was worth it for such a fun weekend.

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Friends!

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Beautiful flowers everywhere

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Random child… I can’t look at this without laughing.

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It’s pretty insane how quickly this semester has been passing. I’ve been here for 13 weeks to the day and I still have moments like “wow, I really cannot believe this is my life.” I’ve had some amazing trips and still have Barcelona and Portugal to look forward to! This is my second to last week of classes and I have just one more assignment and a presentation before the ever-dreaded finals. Because I am occasionally exceedingly unlucky, I have two finals on Saturday the 11th and two more Tuesday the 14th. Like, why can’t they be a little bit spread out? I guess it will be nice to get them over with quickly though and have a few days to enjoy Dublin before I head home on the 19th! People keep asking if I’m ready to go home, and for now, the short answer is no, not really. The weather here is finally clearing up and I am unbelievably excited for Spain and Portugal so I am still thrilled to be here! However, when all that is over and all I have to look forward to are exams, then yes, I will be quite ready to get home and enjoy the summer and see my friends and family.

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Cherry blossom trees on my street!

I guess that’s enough rambling for now! Hope everyone has a great week, wherever you are 🙂 xoxox

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