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Living in Europe: Spending A Weekend in Amsterdam

Sometimes I forget that I’m in a different country. Everyone speaks English and twenty percent of the student body is American. Plus, I can buy Duncan Hines cake mix and cheese sticks at Tesco.

Of course, certain things jilt me back to reality. Sometimes I hear St. Andrews locals speaking English with a thick Scottish accent that sounds like a foreign language. Or I get confused when talking about “jumpers” (sweaters) or “lorries” (trucks) or “bollocks” (nonsense). Or I start my morning in Amsterdam and end up in my art history lecture by early afternoon.

The Differences of Life In Europe

Travel is one of the biggest differences when you’re across the Atlantic. Everything is so accessible. My first out-of-St-Andrews experience was to Dundee, about twenty-five minutes away, to go to the shopping mall. Next, I headed off to Oxford, England, to visit a classmate. Last weekend, I ventured onto the Continent for the first time.

One of my best friends from home was traveling for three months. On her way home, she had a layover in Amsterdam, so I booked an EasyJet flight and a bed at her hostel, and my first European excursion was planned. I was not in Cleveland anymore.

The trip was so easy. First, the flight was only an hour. Second, as a college student, I wasn’t expecting anything luxurious. Hostel sleeping for two nights was cheap and easy to secure. Third, I was so excited to be going away for the weekend that I would have rented a sleeping bag as lodging.

My two days and nights in Amsterdam were super fun. And I was so happy to be reunited with one of my friends from home. We checked out the street markets and the art museums, ate waffles and drank Heineken. And then she flew home and I returned to St. Andrews. No jet lag. No serious unpacking. No cultural whiplash.

I’m Glad I’m Going To School In Europe

One of the deciding factors for attending St. Andrews was the opportunity to travel. In a way, I’m getting two educations: one academic and one cultural. I have plans to travel to Dublin and France and the Scottish Highlands. Even daytrips to Edinburgh take me to an international cosmopolitan capital.

If anything, traveling means I eventually return to St. Andrews. And while it definitely feels like home now, it also becomes apparent that I am still in a different country even when my return flight hits the tarmac. Of course, my next trip will be a little different: my flight leaves Scotland the 19th of December, and I’ll be landing stateside.

Emma Freer attended Ruffing Montessori and Laurel School in Cleveland, Ohio. Emma gave the senior speech at her high school graduation.

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