What a Difference a Day Makes.

I am a changed person since moving to Amsterdam, and in this post I am going to tell you exactly how. I feel like perhaps I should insert a ‘before and after’ Instagram picture here but the differences aren’t predominantly physical. My ‘journey’, as us millennials fondly call doing stuff, has been momentous and life-changing. In Glasgow, I lived life like a sloth; occasionally stretches my limbs out to have a Hive night or hand an essay in a day late. In Amsterdam, I am real life functioning human being who actually sees the sun rise on occasion. Here I am, a Glaswegian, bleach blonde Dalai Lama, ready to reveal my transformation to anyone who might even remotely appear to be listening.

I Do Exercise:

It’s this new thing I’ve been (forced into) trying out since I made the move. Dutch people cycle. They cycle to work, the gym, and even to the club. As things for me generally go, I was placed in halls that might as well be on the runway of Schiphol Airport. It’s a lively forty minute cycle to my campus in town which I generally complete at Olympic speed because I am always late. That part of me hasn’t changed. The other night I looked in the mirror and saw what I thought were swollen parts of my legs but were actually my quadriceps. I also recently tried to cycle during a night out and had to stop for a tactical spew in a flower pot. It saved me a few Euros and I probably even burned off the chips I ate after.

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Me parking my bike outside uni

I Get Dressed for Uni:

Nobody ever told me about the dress code that all students in Amsterdam must adhere to. Glasgow’s West End aesthetic screams ‘taking the bins out in the morning before you go back to bed’; something that’s not quite jammies but also definitely isn’t daytime clothing, a crusty jacket thrown on top and a pair of your dad’s Fila trainers he uses for badminton. Amsterdam’s aesthetic is a bit more ‘sexy office wear but not actually trying to be sexy’; crisp shirts, cigarette trousers and camel trench coats. While budget doesn’t stretch to any of those components, I’ve started wearing actual shoes, made the transition from leggings to skinny jeans, and I now even brush my hair. I feel so confident that I’ve actually found myself ‘strutting about’ at times, whipping out my diary from my handbag and wiping the sleep from my eyes between handing in well-prepared essays. Because sleep is not chic, and everyone here is chic.

Me, awake before midday and wearing real clothes

I Learn Stuff:

At home, I find myself treating my degree as if it’s a nuisance to my long lies, nights out and general galavanting around the West End. Here, because I arrived knowing almost no one, I feel compelled to listen in class. The fear of being called out in a room full of strangers for not knowing what Edward Azar said on page seven of his paper on Protracted Social Conflict is so strong that I actually pay attention. I could probably count the number of times I’ve paid attention in class in Glasgow on one hand, simply because I feel so comfortable. There’s nothing an ‘I couldn’t find the reading online’ won’t cover.

Amy McShane

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