It’s getting cold here. Trackies have swapped out the shorts and at least one jumper keeps my heart beating in a temperature my body is not equipped for. It’s still hitting 13 degrees at midday, but for me, I may as well be in Antarctica.
Yesterday I made a life-threatening decision and stepped out into the sub-arctic temperatures for a wander around Amsterdam under the setting sun. I took the tram into Centrum, but what I couldn’t help smile at was the fact that it felt like I was in a movie as I stared out the window onto this beautiful city I now call home. Locals and tourists rugged up in their warmest clothes walking down the brick roads beside canals and over bridges, keeping their hands warm holding their steamy coffees and sharing a smile with their partners. And although I strongly believe my body will slowly shut down completely as the temperatures continue to drop, I can’t help but have a tiny bit of excitement for this new experience, for the possibility of snow and for the cosy indoor atmospheres that couples with winter in Europe.
It’s October. Month 9 of my ever extending gap ‘year.’ Month 9. I’ve been working at The Pig for 7 weeks now. I’ve cleaned well over 300 toilets, stripped and made way too many beds for a lifetime, drunk enough Cola to ruin two full sets of teeth and consumed enough carbs to feed the entire city of Amsterdam. The days pass by faster than they come, but there’s nothing I love more than the feeling that all my fellow ‘piggies’ are becoming more and more like family. My family of Amsterdam. Jessie and I have called Holland home for 4 months now. By law we are officially temporary residence of The Netherlands. And with most days I still find myself startled at the fact that I live and work here. In Amsterdam – my 3rd home.
Month 9. So what’s changed since I left?
- I turned 18
- I have a tattoo
- I tanned heaps, and then moved to Europe where I became the whitest Ms Amoy has ever seen me
- I have a nose ring
- I drink coffee in the morning
- I’ve become more accepting and less judgmental
- I’m broke
- I buy home brand products
- I find less value in ‘things’ and more value in experiences
- I eat a lot
- My flight dates back home
- My priorities in life
- My outlook on life
- My views on the world
- I’ve caught the travel bug
- I have a new home
- I have an international drivers license
- I can speak some Dutch
All these things, plus a shit load more. Best of all, I’ve made new, lifelong friends. Friends who will show me around their homes, and who will visit me when I finally return to Adelaide. Friends who can travel other parts of the world with me whenever. But not just ‘travel’ friends, friends who I can share my life story with, friends who remind me to write new blog posts (shout-out to Jas), friends I can connect with and friends I can relate to. Friends, best friends, family. My family of the world.
For everyone back home in Adelaide, I miss ya guts, and I miss the guts out of Rads, but for now Amsterdam is where I belong. Jessie and I are currently organising date changes to our original flights, which would see us leave Europe in 11 days (what a joke) and return to Adelaide in December (sorry, but what a joke). The maximum extendable period is up to a year from our original flight dates, and for now this is what we are planning to do. As the working holiday visa’s we are currently using in The Netherlands only last a year and are only valid once in a lifetime, we want to make the most of them and stay in Amsterdam until their expiry in July 2017. From here the plan is to travel around Europe and then head to the Middle East before returning home at the end of the year. At this stage there aren’t any definite plans on when we, or I, will be back, but please don’t expect us on the 4th of December. 2018 seems more realistic to me at the minute.