I just woke up from a half dream, half nightmare that was the month of April. It was the most eventful, traumatizing and unbelievable month of my life and I’m still trying to fathom the fact that it was actually real.
During the month of April, I traveled to Paris in France, Berlin and Munich in Germany, and Amsterdam for King’s Day. I’ve already blogged about my fairy tale weekend in Paris, so I’m going to skip to my second weekend of April excursion to Berlin:
Berlin: the nightmare
After a 12-hour bus ride that consisted of me twiddling my thumbs and gazing out a window of nothingness, I finally made it to Berlin. I immediately got on the metro and asked the train conductor where to buy a ticket. Considering he pointed to hop on the train and mumbled something in German, I assumed that since I was only going on two stops, he was going to let me on for free. This assumption cost me a 50 euro ticket and was the beginning of my bank account’s downhill spiral.
When I arrived to the Airbnb, I met up with friends and we caught up on each other’s lives and played cards. We had the music playing on a very low volume, too. Though this seems like a harmless and uneventful series of events, seven German policemen showed up on our doorstep and told us we were being too loud. I repeat, seven police men showed up just an hour of me being in Berlin. The next day, I left my phone in a cab. I called the cab company, but the odds were not in my favor.
Berlin: the dream
The food was delicious! I haven’t had a better burger before having a Burgermeister in Berlin. Believe it or not, fellow San Diegans, these burgers may actually beat an In-n-Out double double. There were many other food places that I went to that were out of this world, but Burgermeister took the cake for the best meal award.
I also went and saw my favorite performer, Kygo, surrounded by great company and it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to in my entire life. Additionally, on my second day in Berlin I did a walking tour that I got so much out of. Every single step that you take in Berlin equates to volumes upon volumes of history. I went to the Memorial of Murdered Jews, consisting of 2,711 columns commemorating the innocent lives our world lost due to the Holocaust. I also saw the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, and stepped on the ground above Adolf Hitler’s bunker. These memories I had in Berlin are some that will be ingrained for the rest of my life. I will never take them for granted.
Munich: the nightmare
Munich was definitely one of my favorite trips so far, so I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. Or should I say, short and sick? Anyway, on my eight-hour bus ride back to Maastricht from Munich I got the worst stomach flu I’ve gotten in my entire life. On hour four, it hit me, and ran to the wash closet seven times due to my sickness. I didn’t eat for three days after this and am now scarred about ever going on a long bus ride again.
Munich: the dream
Drindls, lederhosen, pretzels, beers the size of my head and the best company from San Diego State … what more could I have asked for? Springfest is a mini version of the more popular Oktoberfest in October. Nonetheless, it consisted of huge crowds of people drinking unlimited beers. I can’t imagine how insane Oktoberfet would be if Springfest was just a small taste. Two of my best friends, Tiana and Becca, are studying in Rome and Milan and this was the first time I had seen them since the middle of December. I almost cried when I saw the both of them (tears of joy, of course). We all got the overly expensive and obnoxious outfits, called drindls, and ate more pretzels than is socially acceptable. There were also Ferris wheels, carnival rides and a beautiful city surrounding the festival.
King’s Day in Amsterdam: only a dream
April 27th marks the birthdate of King Willem-Alexander, the king of the Netherlands. In order to celebrate his birth, Amsterdam turns into a sea of the color orange and festivals are located on every last inch of the city. I went for the day and met up with some of my friends from home. We saw a festival called “Kingsland” and I was fortunate enough to see performers like Martin Garrix, Axwell Ingrosso and Oliver Heldens. It was one of my favorite days I’ve had so far in Europe and Amsterdam has become my favorite place in the entire world. If it was a bit sunnier and warmer, I could definitely see myself residing there for the rest of my life.
Before going abroad, people will tell you that studying abroad is easy. I’m here to tell you it isn’t, but every trial and tribulation you face is absolutely worth it. There will be times when you look at your bank account and cry. There will be times when you want your mom to make you soup when you’re sick. There will be times when your family needs you, but you’re 6,000 miles away and have to deal with the time change. All of these things not only shape your experience, they help you grow up. Also, there will be 6,000 more incredible experiences that make you blinded ti the hardships thrown at you. I guarantee it.
Just last week, I saw the leaves change for the first time in my 21 years of life and I still can’t get over how beautiful the spring is in the Netherlands. Even though I’ve fallen in love with Maastricht, I never could picture myself living here due to the rainy and cold weather – up until the arrival of spring. Now that I’ve seen the cold weather and naked trees amass into rows of tulips, trees coated in pink flowers, and never-ending green meadows, I am having a hard time accepting the fact that my experience here is almost over. Though I can’t say I want to live here in the future, I do know that seeing the leaves change for the first time was one of my most cherished memories and something I am always going to reflect on and and smile about for the rest of my life.
All of the negative experiences I mentioned previously will not be what I remember when I look back on this life-changing experience of studying abroad for a semester in the Netherlands. I’m going to remember the special moments and the people I shared these moments with. In six days I will be traveling to London with two of my close friends. A week after that, my brother and close friend will be joining me in Europe to explore Amsterdam, my home in Maastricht and Ireland. Shortly after, I will be heading to Greece and Italy for my final trips before my mom and dad come to visit June 23.
As I said, my study abroad experience is definitely coming to a close, but I can’t wait to enjoy these last weeks with some of my favorite people on earth!
Hanna Van Der Linde is earning a bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric and Writing Studies at San Diego State University. She is blogging from Maastricht, the Netherlands, during spring semester 2016.