Amsterdam Sights and GRE Math

The time had finally come for me to take the GRE. After three months of studying, two notebooks filled with math problems and my head spinning with new vocabulary, I was more than ready. As much as I complain about all of that, I was fortunate enough to travel to Amsterdam in order to take this test. It was my first trip completely solo and my last vacation as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Where had the last two years gone?!

Train travel and Starbucks are two of my favorite things!

Train travel and Starbucks are two of my favorite things!

Best way to start a trip!

Best way to start a trip!

With only four days to work with, I wanted to see and do as much as possible. Which meant that my 4 am flight out of Albania was actually a good thing. I arrived in Amsterdam by 9am, fueled by a caffeine stupor, I took on the city.

When someone mentions Amsterdam, they will undoubtedly talk about the fact that marijuana, other recreational drugs and prostitution are legal there. This makes for an extremely forward thinking and interesting city. I felt a long way from North Dakota as I walked around with a constant aroma of weed in the air and women in lingerie standing in doorways waiting for their next customer. However, that is precisely one of the things I love about traveling. It opens your eyes to other cultures and often times, forces you to open your mind.

DSC_0005 DSC_0012 DSC_0013 DSC_0015 DSC_0023 DSC_0031

I had just started my ninth week of marathon training (only seven more to go!!), which meant I needed to get some miles in while I stayed in Amsterdam. With over 600.00 bicycles, it is easily the main form of transportation there. I was reminded constantly on my runs as I tried to remember to always look behind, in front of and to the side of me to ensure I wouldn’t get run over. Luckily that never happened but I almost collided with someone on more than one occasion.

IMG_1989

Not too shabby of views on a morning run!

Not too shabby of views on a morning run!

The day of the test, I kept myself busy by getting lost as I tried to find the testing center. It didn’t help matters that I do not speak Dutch. Some days, English is what I miss most. I found the venue, took the test and felt like crying when I left. Math is not my strong suit and the three sections on the GRE did not seem to go very well. I ran out of time on the first section and ended up guessing on 8 of the 20 questions. I also memorized over 860 vocabulary words in preparation for the other sections. I saw ONE of the words I knew. ONE out of eight hundred and sixty. Like I said, I left and felt like crying. Returning to school is going to be quite the adjustment.

Good thing chocolate helps heal all wounds.

Good thing chocolate helps heal all wounds.

Fresh mint tea.

Fresh mint tea.

Lunch with beautiful views

Lunch with beautiful views

DSC_0124

Flower market

DSC_0097 DSC_0110 DSC_0127

Of course, in order to get the most bang for my buck, I squeezed in a day trip to Gent Belgium. I couldn’t be that close to world renowned chocolate, waffles and cafes without checking it out. In spite of terrible weather and constant rain, I spent the day walking around and taking pictures. Periodically warmed by another glass of delicious hot chocolate.

Belgium train station

Belgium train station

DSC_0045 DSC_0049 DSC_0050 DSC_0051 DSC_0058 DSC_0059 DSC_0064 DSC_0066

On this last trip of my volunteer service, I discovered I love traveling alone. Your schedule is completely dependent on your mood each day. That kind of flexibility can make for some chaotic days, chock-full of frenzied activity. Or some wonderfully relaxed afternoons at a coffee shop. Or a little bit of both. And it is solely up to you. Traveling opens your eyes to new people, places and things. As well as, uncovering bits and pieces of yourself that may have otherwise stayed hidden. Helping you get to know yourself along with the world. Both equally important and both equally rewarding.

images

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s