Friday, February 20, 2015

Hello from Amsterdam!

Ashley Mungiguerra is a junior journalism major and Pride Guide from Texas currently studying abroad in Europe.

This semester I am studying abroad in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, as part of Hofstra’s exchange program with the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Unlike most study abroad programs, there are five students from Hofstra at UvA and several Dutch students studying at Hofstra!

I have only been in Amsterdam for a few weeks but it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with my new city. Going to school just outside of New York City, I assumed I could adapt to anything, but the two cities have very little in common.

First of all: bikes. Everyone here bikes everywhere. Parents load their kids up in little carts that attach to the front of bikes, couples ride in tandem, and businessmen in suits hop on and bike to work every morning.

Unlike New York, Amsterdam sleeps. Most shops and businesses close around 5 or 6 pm, and only some restaurants remain open late (so you can still get your late-night stroopwafel or vlaamse frites). Don’t even try to go to a museum and expect to stay late; they will escort you out of the building when the clock strikes 5!

However, Amsterdam does have some similarities with New York, which was after all a Dutch colony and called New Amsterdam for a long period. Both are huge cities tucked into small spaces, with plenty to do on the weekends. As much as I love being able to hop over to Manhattan on the weekend to see a Broadway play, enjoy a museum, or try out a new restaurant, it is much more fun to be able to hop on a plane to Berlin or London or Paris for the weekend!

Similar to Hofstra’s Explore Next Door (END) trips, UvA hosts many events for international and exchange students, since there are a lot of us! This past weekend I ventured to Zeeland, Rotterdam, and The Hague with 60 other kids from countries all over the world. The week before we took a day trip to Volendam and Zaanse Schans, two small typical Dutch villages.

Amsterdam has been amazing so far, and I never would have chosen this city as my study abroad destination if it were not for Hofstra’s exchange program. I have only explored a tiny bit of this beautiful, historic city, but I am excited to spend the next few months getting to know my new home!

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