"When I was young, I used to have this
thing where I wanted to see everything. I used to think, 'How can I die
without seeing every inch of this world?'"- Leonardo DiCaprio
My name is Devon Santoro and I am a junior undergraduate at Penn State University majoring in Cultural Anthropology and History, and minoring in Sexuality and Gender Studies. I like to go to concerts, cook (eating is very much involved in this activity), read, and watch movies like most college students. This Spring, starting January 28th, I will be living and studying in Amsterdam with IES Abroad.
The anxiousness I have not felt, but was certain should have come weeks ago has finally hit me. My friends have departed to return to their respective universities a week ago, and family have long since used up their days off from the holidays. I can tell you that being home for so long has made me too comfortable with late nights watching Netflix, and even later mornings sleeping in and dreaming of Amsterdam. This recognition of my maybe-a-little-too-lax R&R makes me realize I am going to have to kick into high gear when my semester at Universiteit van Amsterdam finally starts. I've been packing little by little every night for the past week, but it has made no difference regarding the overwhelming experience of shoving my life into one rolling suitcase and a backpack. For those who will be going through this in the years to come, I will post a list of packing tips in my next entry after I get to Amsterdam so it will be more useful (and make me wish I had done some things different perhaps?). Instead, here are a list of things I am excited to do/see.
1. See the canals frozen over
2. Walk through all of the different markets in the city
3. See how far Dutch Rosetta Stone has gotten me
4. Visit the Keukenhof tulips
5. Have a drink at Brouwerij 't IJ, the windmill brewery next to Funenpark
6. Sit for hours at the Dam Square to read a book and enjoy my favorite pastime-- people watching
7. Be spontaneous... but SAFE! (that last part is very important to note.)
Notice that nowhere on my list do I say the words "take a tour of". Some tours were already planned for me by IES, but I don't want to spend my time doing too many "touristy" things (although I will do my best to visit all the amazing sites the Netherlands has to offer). Therefore, I have not planned a single thing for when I'm over there. A friend who used to live in Europe gave me some great advice, which was not to spend time planning trips to other countries or even to other places in the Netherlands until I get there. She said that the best part of traveling is being accompanied by people who will be fun to travel with. Who wants a ticket to Paris, only to sit alone eating baguette? Not this girl. I am possibly the most excited about making new friends abroad. The only alone time I wish to have alone is when I am sleeping comfortably in my single apartment at Funenpark. Other than that, I want to explore and become as Dutch as I can be in the five months that I will be there.