zaterdag 18 november 2017

Day 50: Nashville

πŸ“ Location: Tootsies, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

After Chicago I’ve started to head south. Leaving the big cities behind me for now and entering the more countryside of America. At least that's what it feels like. A long night bus ride would take me there. The girl who I met in Chicago said that so far her bus rides had been really cool. That she met a bunch of nice people there and even got very friendly with a cute guy who sat next to her at one point. I don’t know how she does it. So far I’ve been surrounded by the opposite of cute guys in busses. And again, this time I had the pleasure of sitting for at least twelve hours next to an old man with the worst, most rotten breath I’ve ever smelled - like death was already on its way to come and get him.

Me and my gassed nostrils arrived around noon in Nashville. When you set foot in this city, it feels like you immediately enter a complete different world. A world where everyone wears cowboy boots and cowboy hats and where people actually like country music. It can’t get more American than this. It’s as if this city lives in its own bubble with its particular culture and doesn’t give a shit about what the rest of the world think of them. Fascinating to see. For Europeans this would be what the typical ‘American’ image would look like. Oh, fun fact: Miley Cyrus is born and raised in Nashville.

Nashville is the place to be if you want to party. The Americans themselves like to visit the ‘Country Music Capital of the World’ for a weekend getaway. They dive into one of the hundred bars in the night to listen to the performing bands and party their asses off before returning back to their daily jobs.

I stayed at a big hostel in the center of Nashville. The hostel itself was a really nice one; it had a huge public hang out space with lots of couches and a pool table, the rooms were big and the bathrooms were clean. The only downside to big hostels in general is that the more people there are, the less cosy the vibe will be. People are more to themselves and don’t really hang out with each other. But that was okay for me, since I only stayed there for two days and began to really appreciate it to be alone sometimes. So me, myself and I explored the city and discovered a great bar called Tootsie’s. It’s a three-level bar and on each level a different band was playing country music. Really cool. At first I thought that it would be very awkward to go to a bar all by yourself, that people would think that I was sad for coming alone. But actually no one will care. You just have to enjoy yourself. And traveling alone makes you very good at that.

woensdag 15 november 2017

Day 47: Chicago

πŸ“ Location: Chicago, Illionois, USA

So the ride goes on - the journey continuous. Next destination: Chicago. Also known as Chi-Town, Windy City (due to the strong winds which that blow through the city) and in some eyes one of the more dangerous places in the States. That’s because there are a few neighborhoods in Chicago where there’s a lot of crime and where outsiders better not want to go to. It’s a city with a raw edge. Being a little bit more careful here is a must.

To be honest, I’ve never really felt unsafe during this trip. Not once in New York, not once in Canada. You just don’t have to be stupid and don’t have to find yourself at some point in some deserted and sketchy area of a city. The only time so far that I got reminded that it can be dangerous for a young girl to travel by herself was when I didn’t really got the most warmest welcome in Chicago. Because as soon as I left the bus station and set my first steps in this city, two men in their car started following me. They were very insistent in offering me a ride because they were sure I could not handle the five-minute walk to a coffee shop. Well, I’m not gekke henkie so of course I knew that if I would've stepped into that car, it probably was going to be a very long time before I would ever see a cup of coffee again. Eventually, after ignoring them for a while, they gave up and drove off. I guess walking through a sketchy neighborhood with my big ass suitcase wasn’t the smartest thing to do. It was a good wake up call.

In Chicago I stayed the first night with a guy from Couchsurfing. The cat guy. I should have known that if someone already mentions in his profile that if you don’t like cats it isn’t the place for you, that maybe he’s right. I just thought that if pretending to be a cat person for a few days meant that I got a free place to stay, I just needed to suck it up. But that’s harder than you think. I don’t like cats and I will never do. So if you are with someone in a house who is constantly talking to their cats as if they’re humans, talking to you about the cats and the new tricks he has learned them, walking around with his cats clinging to his back and even having a ‘cat sitter’ (babysitter for cats) when he’s not home - I will feel a little bit uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, he was a very nice person but I just don’t share his passion for cats.

So for the rest of my days I’d booked a cheap Airbnb close to the city center. A good decision because there I got to meet a really nice German girl of my age who was also traveling on her own. So we were both looking for some company and ended up spending the days together. We walked around the city, all bundled up with ten layers, hats and gloves due to the freaking cold weather. We went to the famous Bean, sat on the L-train (a subway that is riding literally over the city), ate the famous Chicago ‘deep dish pizza’. And because we were both underaged, we had to be creative with what we could do in the evening. So one night we ended up at a comedy show in some kind of basement somewhere in Chicago and the next night we went to a free hot yoga class (after being lost for about 2 hours). We had a great time.

While I’m writing this I’m in the night bus on my way to Nashville. Saying goodbye to yet another city went better this time. I guess I’m getting used to it.

zaterdag 11 november 2017

Day 43: Traveling further


πŸ“ Location: Toronto, Ontario, CA

In one of my first blog posts I wrote that I was expecting this journey to be like a rollercoaster. Traveling alone for the first time so far away from home was bound to become an experience with huge ups and downs. It would be emotionally challenging when the loneliness and the desire to go back to your family and friends might get to you. But I knew that that was also something I was looking for. I wanted to know how I would handle a situation like that.

The further I traveled, the more I enjoyed myself. Every place so far turned out to be amazing. Each time I was able to surround myself with great and inspiring people. To make new friends. It felt like luck was on my side. The rollercoaster ride went up. More up, further up. So far up that I started to become more and more afraid of it to fall down at some point. Something that was almost inevitable because there would be a time where everything wouldn’t turn out to be that great. I felt more scared and emotional each time when I traveled to the next destination, afraid that it wouldn’t be as great as the last ones.

So saying goodbye to yet another city - Toronto this time - was emotionally hard for me again. And the idea of getting on a night bus that would take me in ten long hours to Chicago also didn’t help. I guess that calling your mother while crying your eyes out is part of it. To hear some comforting words before you have to pull yourself together again. I need to tell myself that I have to stop being afraid of what’s coming next. And instead start looking forward to it. Because what’s the worst that can happen? If I don’t like a place, I’ll just go on. And feeling like shit somewhere is also something that I wanted to experience as I said. To see if I can still enjoy myself even then and make the most out of it.

vrijdag 10 november 2017

Day 42: Toronto / Niagara Falls


πŸ“ Location: Toronto, Ontario, CA

My four days in Toronto have been a blast. In general, my time in Canada has been a blast. After Montreal it was hard to believe that it would be that great anywhere else, but luckily in Toronto there was Jasper from Germany. I read somewhere that chance encounters are what keep us going. And by traveling I found out that I couldn’t agree more. We were staying in the same room in the hostel and got along very well immediately, so we’ve spend the days in Toronto together. Breakfasts at Wanda’s Pie in the Sky, then walking/biking around the city a little bit and in the evening going out to eat ramen, Persian food or lots of sushi before we went to a bar to get some drinks.

We also did a trip together to the Niagara Falls. We drove up there in Jasper’s rental car, wearing stupid touristic shirts, singing along the songs from the playlist that we’d put together and eating out of the bag filled with snacks. After a 90 minute drive we arrived at the waterfalls - they’re beautiful but to be honest a bit overrated - and I drove us back home. It was a good day. I can only hope that my upcoming adventures will be as good as this one.

So yeah, my time in Canada has been filled with good memories. I’ve really began to love this country. And compared to New Yorkers with whom I have surrounded myself for four weeks, the Canadians seem almost from another planet.

Good example: when I went doing my laundry in New York a few weeks ago, I forgot to correctly put the cap on the detergent which caused a full bottle of laundry detergent to empty in my bag.. I know, i know, how clumsy can you possibly be? There was soap everywhere. My phone and wallet were literally swimming in a puddle of soap.

And no one seemed to think: hmm well, that girl and all of her stuff are covered in soap now, maybe she could use a hand. No, don’t count on it. Nobody cares in New York. When I asked the guy who worked there for a paper towel to clean up my stuff, he looked at me and literally gave me one paper towel. Just one. What a dick. Yes, thanks for the help. That will help me to clean up two liters worth of soap. Make sure that you’re not doing too much in this world. No good karma points for you there man.

And then there’s Canada. The people are so nice, so friendly, so generous. The people with whom I stayed with Couchsurfing in Montreal and Ottawa represent the Canadian spirit for me. I literally had to pinch myself when someone held a door for me, when I entered a store and the cashier greeted me instead of giving me a withering gaze, when I asked directions to someone and they pulled out their phone in the pouring rain and made sure that I would arrive at my destination.

What a nice country. And the minimum drinking age is 18+ instead of 21+, which makes me love Canada even more. Hopefully I can surround myself with these kinds of people again soon.

maandag 6 november 2017

Day 38: Montreal 2.0


πŸ“ Location: Highway between Ottawa and Montreal, Quebec, CA

It’s hard to leave a place where you finally feel at home, even though you are 5000 km away from your actual home. Montreal stole my heart. The people I met in Montreal stole my heart.

It’s tempting to stay. One time I couldn’t resist already and came back to spend a few more days in this city. Great decision. It was a weekend that consisted of chilling in cool coffee shops and discovering more hidden places during the day and then partying all night long. Only good and fun times.

And in only three more days I grew even closer to the few good friends I already made there. It’s fascinating that certain people, with whom you can feel such a special connection right away, can cross your path for such a brief and sudden moment. Because what are the chances that you have met each other. One decision differently made and you wouldn’t even know about their existence. It’s a shame that you don’t get to spend more time with them. Being sad for a moment is fine, but after that you have to forget about it and be only thankful that at least your paths have crossed.

But as much as I would want to stay, I have to move on. I know that I’m a stubborn person, and once I have something in my head I have to do it. And I want to stick to the route that I had planned to take. I know that if I would decide to stay in Montreal, I would be having an amazing time without any doubt. But that would not be the journey which I had in mind. And I think that after a while I would begin to regret this decision. Almost as if I chickened out on the whole road trip and the idea of traveling from place to place as soon as I felt comfortable somewhere. And being comfortable is not the aim. So I choose to leave Montreal behind and move on for now. I hope it is the right decision.

Mateo, Charlotte and Max, thank you for making my week in Montreal an unforgettable one. One to always remember. To take the time to show me around in your city, take me to amazing places and parties and being the incredible and good persons that you are. I’m thankful that I got to meet you guys. You will always be part of an amazing story. Hopefully our paths will cross again, one day. And if you ever find yourself in Holland, you know where to go.

vrijdag 3 november 2017

Day 35: Ottawa


πŸ“ Location: Ottawa, Ontario, CA

So I forgot my jacket in Montreal. I walked straight past it when I walked with all of my stuff out the door. I found out just before I got on the train towards Ottawa. I know I know, how stupid can you be. But yeah, I didn’t want to miss the train and to change all of my plans just for a jacket. Max could just send the coat to Toronto and then we would be reunited within five days. So I set foot in the vessel and went on yet another spectacular adventure.

It turned out that the coat was a bigger need than I initially thought. Because when I arrived, it was five degrees with a lot of rain and strong winds. A jacket comes in handy then. So here’s the plan: in stead of traveling further to Toronto today, I’m going back to Montreal for the weekend. Party and chill with my friends for a few days more. And then Monday my jacket and I will finally leave Montreal for good and go to Toronto. So I recommend forgetting your jacket because it can bring you a lot of happiness and joy.

With Couchsurfing I’d also found a place in Ottawa where I could stay for free for two nights. I stayed with Gregory, a super nice Canadian who takes the whole Couchsurfing thing to the next level. For my arrival he had put a little Dutch flag on the table to make me feel at home (later he said that he actually went to a flag store to get that), bought some Heineken beers and practiced a little Dutch the days before I came. He actually told me that he had been hosting different couchsurfers for already two months non-stop, just because he likes to meet people from different countries. And it’s not that he just offers a place to sleep besides that does his own thing. He actually spends a lot of time with his couchsurfers. For example, he took me and another girl that stayed at his place to his work at the radio station, to a bar to watch a baseball game, he cooked his special Hungarian dish for me in the evening and he took us to a Couchsurfing meetup.

The last thing was kind of interesting, because I found out that there’s a whole community behind Couchsurfing with lots of people who are super passionate about the whole thing. They weekly hang out with each other, exchange cultures and share travel stories. A little bit too much for me to be honest - I’m literally a couch surfer - but I can appreciate their enthusiasm.

So in a few hours I’m going back to Montreal. By car this time, because I’ve booked a ride online at some kind of carpooling site. Kangaride it’s called. Everyone here uses it. I think this is going to be my main mode of transportation, because it’s super cheap and it comes the closes to my original plan, which was driving a car myself during the whole road trip. Long story, but that was not a possibility anymore unfortunately. So now I’m going to let the driver - called Justine I saw - drive for me. Hopefully Justine can drive a little bit.

woensdag 1 november 2017

Day 33: Montreal


πŸ“ Location: Mont Royal, Montreal, Quebec, CA

My time in Montreal was freaking amazing. I’ve been there for four days and would love to stay a little bit longer. Of course I could (since I haven’t booked anything yet) and I’ve doubted for a long time if I’d not just stay. But part of me says that I should move on. Still have a long way to go with lots of places to see and cool people to meet. So we must carry on.

I stayed in Montreal on the couch in the house of Max and his two roommates. I’d found him on Couchsurfing and I couldn’t have wished for a better place. It’s weird to imagine how different these days would have been if I hadn’t chosen for him. Not as amazing, that’s for sure.

Because the timing was actually perfect. Max was throwing a Halloween party the night that I arrived there, so I immediately met all of his friends. I seriously can’t thank him enough for being so generous and open by inviting me to his party (and of course for letting me stay on his couch). Because therefore I made some friends right away with whom I could hang out the rest of the days and who could take me to cool places and party’s.

During the days I usually biked on my own through the city. Yes, biking! Finally! Hadn’t realized how much I missed that since I rode on one again. (Apparently I’m still a real dutchie after more than one month abroad :)). For only $14 (approx. €10) you can rent a bike for 3 days. Super nice! Highly recommended.

Although the look of the city is of course not as impressive and spectacular as New York, Montreal is maybe just as cool because of its many small coffee shops and hidden bars and shops everywhere around the city. Hidden because they don’t do big hysterical signs - often there isn’t even a sign at all. You just have to know where they are. And the students and young, cool and creative people - who basically own this city - will know how to find them.

The nights consisted of partying. Halloween parties, singing karaoke in a student bar (Canadians love karaoke!) and one night Max took me to one of those hidden spots. L’Escalier it’s called. Such an insanely cool place. It’s a kind of bar/hangout spot/apartment. Every night of the week there’s live music, starting at 5 PM. Mostly jazz, but Sunday night is the latino night. And this one is famous in Montreal. The tables are pushed to the side and as soon as the band starts playing, everybody starts dancing. Seriously one of the best nights so far. (As a young girl you do have to make sure that you don’t feel too sorry to break some hearts though, because there are some weird old guys who badly want to dance with you. Just say no.)

Now I’m in the train to Ottawa. With still the traces of last nights halloween party - vague wipes of fake blood - all over my face, neck and arms. I can’t get it off and now it looks like I have some kind of nasty rash. I already noticed some eyes staring at me. Well, sorry guys, not much I can do about it. Anyway, Ottawa is the capital of Canada. And according to a lot of people who I’ve met here, there’s not a lot to do there unless you’re a business man or the prime minister. So I’m only spending one day there before I’m going to the biggest city of Canada: Toronto.

zaterdag 28 oktober 2017

Day 29: Off to Montreal


πŸ“ Location: Albany, New York, USA
(Bus stop somewhere in between New York and Montreal)

Here we go. The road trip has now officially begun. Next stop: Montreal, Canada! I’m writing this while sitting in the Greyhound-bus, where I’ll be for the next 9 hours. Departure time: 8:30 AM, arrival time: 6 PM. But it’s not too bad, because so far it’s comfortable. I have a window seat, I can charge my phone and I’m sitting next to a guy who’s bingwatching Riverdale right now and has no need to ask me weird questions or to play Truth or Dare (unlike the airplane guy). Now just wait and see if he might snore in his sleep, but otherwise he is completely approved. Fingers crossed.

And a miracle happened, because I arrived on time. Even ten minutes early. Quite an achievement. What helped is that I’d packed all my stuff yesterday already. Because it was pretty clear that my suitcase was not going to close if I’d put everything inside - I probably have doubled the amount of clothes that I brought during my stay in New York (#ThreatYoSelf) - I had to say goodbye to some old clothes. I couldn’t just put them in the trashcan, so I’m going to ship those back home. I also didn’t want to take the risk to buy some breakfast / lunch along the way from my house to the bus station (close to Central Park). So now I have to live for the coming 9 hours on a cucumber and water. But at least I made it!

By the way: often people ask me why I’ve decided that I want to do this trip by myself and not together with a friend for example. Well, of course it would be so much fun to travel with someone. You’ll make amazing memories together and have a blast for sure. And sometimes I do miss it. But I know that that’s not the only thing what I’m looking for right now. I want to achieve more with this trip than just making fun and having a laugh.

I want to travel alone because I want to develop and get to know myself. I want to challenge myself. Can I manage to travel for three months alone on the other side of the world? Totally independent and with a great responsibility. I want to know how I will react in certain situations. Will I feel lonely very fast if I’m not surrounded by people all the time? I also don’t want to have to adjust myself to other people. Just following my own plan, visiting the places where I want to go to and hanging out with people that I like.

Simply said: a big part of this trip is about me getting to know myself. It may all sound very serious, but I think that’s one of the most important things in life. Because after all you’re on your own. So make sure you know with whom you’re dealing with.

So yeah, when I’ll arrive in Montreal, I’ll enter a party right away because my host is throwing a Halloween party! Very exciting. So I have about 6 hours more to get some sleep.

donderdag 26 oktober 2017

Dag 27: What's next?


πŸ“ Location: Central Park, New York, USA

Hello again. Since I’m in the new house, it’s kind of hard to keep up with the blog. I’m now always surrounded by really nice people and it’s difficult to sometimes take a moment for yourself. But I think that’s a good sign.

My time in New York is almost over. It’s insane how fast it went by. It feels only like a few days ago that I set foot in this amazing and incredible city for the first time. On the one hand I’m super excited for my next adventure. It’s going to be something totally different. But on the other hand I don’t really feel like leaving yet, because I finally know how everything works in this place and it started to feel like home. I also got to meet a few very cool and inspiring people - mainly in this house - and it kind of sucks to part ways so fast. But that’s life. Like the traces of airplanes that cross each other in the sky before they’re going in different directions once and for all.

But what’s next? Within three days my road trip through the States and Canada will officially start. Super exciting! On the picture below you can see the route I’m planning to take. But I haven’t made anything definite yet, because it’ll probably change a bit along the way. The only thing that I know for sure is that I want to arrive in my final destination Vancouver during Christmas and New Year’s Eve. For the rest everything is still open.

So, next stop: MontrΓ©al! I’m going there by bus this Saturday - it’s going to be a 9 hour drive, pfff - and I’m staying for 3 days with some local guy that I found on Couchsurfing. Don’t worry, I’m 100% sure he’s not a creep. And otherwise I will find out soon enough. He already invited me to a Halloween party the night that I’ll arrive. Super nice! I think that Canada will be a nice change from the States actually. Because of the ‘21+ rule’ it can feel sometimes a little bit limited here, while I will be able to do anything in Canada with my eighteen years. So I’m sure it’s going to be fun there.

maandag 16 oktober 2017

Day 17: The new place


πŸ“ Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA

Yesterday was moving day. The room where I stayed for the past two weeks was going under construction so I couldn't stay there anymore. But that turned out to be a very good thing, because my new apartment is way better!

A few days ago I asked the guy who rents the apartment to me - Ola is his name - if I could stay there until the end of October. I had rented the place for only 14 days, because then I could always change places in case it would be a gross, disgusting, haunted house with fungus dripping of the walls etc. Well, the room turned out to be fine - for only €18 you have to be okay with the fact that there isn’t much luxury and that you have to share a bathroom with people with whom you rather not even share a conversation with.

Ola said that I could move into another apartment of his for the same price. Which is insanely cheap if you look at the place! And the timing was actually perfect because the mice situation got worse. On my last day there I saw one crawling - not only on the ground - but on the table as well. And that means that they can get everywhere. Even in your bed. So I needed to get out of that place.

The new place is in the same neighborhood, only five minutes away from the old apartment. It has a kitchen, two bathrooms, a bigger bedroom and is filled with very nice people instead of mice. (The picture shown above is a snapshot of our living room. Pretty fancy, am I right?). I don’t know exactly how many people there are, because every time that I’m in the house I see new faces. But I guess around 16. The people who I’ve met so far were like-minded people, also traveling and around my age. Last night everyone was just hanging around in the kitchen, cooking food for each other and sharing their stories. The vibe is really nice. Happy to call this place my home for the next two weeks.

~

I've visited the MET today. Really proud of myself that I've been to a museum voluntarily. I'm such a grown-up right now. Did I liked it? Some parts, yes. For example, the architecture of the place is amazing. And I liked the rooftop with the view of the skyline. And some pieces in the museum of course. It was also kind of fascinating to watch other people like me - people who don't have a clue what's going on because it rarely happens that they set foot in a museum - looking with the biggest scowl to the most uninteresting stuff like little clay pots, just trying to look smart and sophisticated. Well, fake it until you make it.

zondag 15 oktober 2017

Day 16: MeetUp


πŸ“ Location: Manhattan, New York, USA

A really easy way to meet other people in a new city is to use the app MeetUp. I mentioned this app already in the blog post from last Monday when I was planning on running with the Dashing Whippets. You just apply for an activity that suits you and go there. There are all kinds of activities, ranging from working out together, rooftop parties and even learning a new language. Whatever you want.

At first I thought it was maybe a little bit embarrassing to use this app. That I would be one of those sad, lonely people with no friends whose only way to get some human contact is by using this app. But my roommate told me that loads of people are using this app and only a few are sad and lonely. So I was convinced.

By the way, I forgot the name of my roommate unfortunately. But I can’t ask her anymore because it’s too late now. That would be something like ’Hey, I know we’ve basically been breathing in the same air for almost two weeks now, but what’s your name again? That’s rude. So now my first roommate ever will be remembered as ‘the American girl’.

On Thursday night I went to a free yoga class with a friend from school. And we were not the only ones, because the gym (located in a public school in the Upper East Side) was completely filled with people. It was my first time doing yoga and probably the last. Except for the last exercise where we could just lay down with our eyes closed, I was not flexible enough to do most of them. I felt like an old lady. Very sad haha.

Because most of my friends here are going out on Friday nights and unfortunately I can’t join them, I decided to go have diner with five strangers instead. This activity was a bit risky, because the creeps of MeetUp could get easily attracted by these kind of things. But it turned out to be really nice.

Everyone was very nice - although there was a tiny generation gap. I had a very nice conversation with one guy in particular . He had traveled a few years ago through Europe and was a source of information, tips and advise that I could use for my upcoming road trip.

The only thing that you shouldn’t do, is to have dinner with someone like that again. Chances are there will be some kind of miscommunication regarding to the different expectations (especially when you let the guy pay). See, I had reached my goal. I had all of information I needed. But after we said goodbye, I received all these texts in which he said that he already had tons of other places in mind where we could go to in the future and especially places where you can play board games (??). Ehhhh, sorry, but unfortunately I’m occupied for the next two weeks. Take care.

This night my new roommate (remembered her name :)) said something to me that’s so simple but so true. She said that when you’re traveling alone, you’ll find out that it’s so much nicer to spend time with yourself than to spend time with someone that you actually don’t really like. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

donderdag 12 oktober 2017

Day 13: What's it like in New York City?


πŸ“ Location: Flatiron Building, New York, USA

What’s it like in New York City? I’ve been asked this question a lot since I’m here and it’s always a kind of difficult one to answer. Because it’s hard to describe.

Everything about this city is just so iconic. The yellow cabs, the skyscrapers. Even though you’ve never been here before, you’ve seen the place countless times in movies, tv shows, the news. So walking around New York for the first time kind of feels unreal. It’s so impressive. Like walking around in the decor of a big movie set.

I’ve been here for almost two weeks and I know now for sure: NYC will never be boring. There are just too many people to meet, too many things to do, too many places to go. Sometimes I almost feel like a lost puppy because I want to see and experience so many things, that I don’t even know where to start.

Also, nothing is too crazy in New York. Don’t be surprised if you’re walking through the streets of Manhattan and see someone having a really intense conversation with a chair. Or with themselves. Or if you see someone shamelessly dancing and singing along with the music playing in their earphones. It’s so normal here that not even a single person looks twice.

Coming alone to this city is quite a challenge. New York can be a tough city if you don’t know anybody and if you’re an outsider. You wish you’d meet a local right away who could show you all the cool spots in New York and introduced you to their group of friends. But those chances are unlikely, because you’ll notice that everyone here is minding their own business. Doing their own thing. Following their own dreams. They’re not going to hold your hand. You are on your own.

Although it can be really nice to be alone sometimes, sooner or later you’re going to feel like company. And in New York you can’t just wait around until people will come to you. Because they won’t. You have to make some effort yourself to meet other people. To make some friends. Don’t be afraid and go out there. Feeling lonely is one of the worst feelings when traveling alone. But it’s up to you to do something about it.

So what’s it like in New York City? Come and see for yourself J You don’t want to miss it. But grow a pair of balls before you do. This isn't a place for scaredy-cats.

dinsdag 10 oktober 2017

Day 11: A nice surprise


πŸ“ Location: Chinatown, New York, USA

I started this day with a pleasant surprise. I was planning on quickly making myself some breakfast before I had to go to school. Since there’s no kitchen here - just a fridge and a microwave - that means that I can either make myself a bagel or a wrap.

For the record, I keep my food - except for the things that go in the fridge - in my empty suitcase underneath my bed. That may seem a little bit weird, but believe me, I’m sure that the inside of my luggage is the cleanest place in the whole room. And since I’m planning on being on the road for a little longer, I’m not going to take any risks of getting food poisoning by letting my food get effected by the germs of the hundreds of people that stayed here before me.

So I wanted to go for a bagel. I grabbed the sack of bagels from my luggage, only to find out that someone already ate my breakfast before I did. Well, ‘something’ I should say, because it was immediately clear that - by the way the plastic sack was gnawed open and the sight of the bagels that had now more than one hole - this was the work of a mouse. My roommate had already warned me about our little friend last week. Normally I’m not that scared of mice, but the knowledge that there was one inside my luggage just freaks me out. And it must’ve been there for quite a while, because it also got to my tortilla wraps and shit all over my towel. Disgusting. That towel is now in the trashcan. So as my breakfast. Luckily I’m moving to another apartment in a few days. I hope it’ll be one without mice.

After school I went to Chinatown together with four other girls. We had lunch in this really nice and cheap restaurant called Nom Wah. Super good Chinese food! After that, everyone went their own way. I went to Bryant Park - definitely my favorite spot in New York so far. This place is an oasis of calm in the middle of this loud and hectic city. Everyone is sitting at the little tables and chairs that are placed everywhere is the park, just enjoying their day. The vibe is very peaceful. And because there is a wifi hotspot, it’s also a perfect place to Skype and to work on the blog a little bit.

In the evening I went to a stand-up comedy show. I bought my ticket just the day before online and I was very excited about it. This was something that I really wanted to have seen before I’d leave New York. The good thing about going alone to these things is that you’ll meet other people before you know it. While I was waiting in line for our seating, I came across two very nice retired ladies from Texas who were my company for the night. Loved them. They were so sweet and funny. And they got even funnier when they started nipping on their fifth ‘One Night Stand’.

The show itself was very simple. There was one host who introduced all of the stand-up comedians. And there were a lot of them - I think we saw about 10 different faces. Each comedian had 15 minutes to perform and make the crowd laugh. Some did a really good job, but there were also a few who could not even crack a single smile. Very painful to watch.

To be honest, I sometimes had a hard time understanding the jokes. But I have a hard time understanding jokes in general and I’m usually not the first person to get the clue, so I think it was just me. It happened to me a few times that the whole room was laughing, except for me. Then you have to fake it, because otherwise you look like a humorless person who doesn’t have a single joy in their life.

But don’t worry, I did laugh a lot of time sincere. I’m happy that I went. Wouldn’t have missed it.


maandag 9 oktober 2017

Day 10: Long weekend


πŸ“ Location: Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, New York, USA
(My neighborhood)

After five long, tiring but also exciting weekdays it is finally weekend. And thank god it’s a long weekend, because the Americans celebrate Columbus Day today. I don’t know exactly what that means, but the important thing is that the school is closed today. Which means that I could sleep in late for three whole days! And that was much needed, because the bags under my eyes started to get almost black.

I haven’t done a lot of exciting things these days. Went out a little bit, but mostly chilled at home and did some of the necessarily stuff like going to the grocery store and doing my laundry.

After a lazy Saturday morning I met up with Nao around 3PM to go to the Chelsea Market and to the 9/11 Memorial Center. That last place made a huge impression on me. It’s hard to imagine that this huge tragedy happened at that exact same place just a few years ago. But when we went into the museum and saw a wall with all the faces of the poor innocent victims and their background stories, it suddenly became so real. It was very confronting. I have no words for that feeling.

Sunday I explored my own neighborhood a little bit. I hadn’t seen much of it yet, just the one street between my house and the station. I also went to Williamsburg, another neighborhood in Brooklyn which is known for its hipster vibe and all kinds of cool places. You’ll find the young and creative people of New York clustered together in this place. I went to a few vintage stores, walked around a little bit and went back home. I still needed to do my laundry really quick in one hour before I went to dinner with Nati, another girl from my class.

In retrospect, I could’ve done my laundry a little bit more efficient. It’s a long story, but at one point my white laundry was washing in this one laundromat and my black laundry in another five blocks away. It was a lot of running up and down, putting things in the dryer and pulling them out still soaking wet after half an hour. I was scared that my clothes were going to shrink if I would put the program to high. Well, it’s been 24 hours and everything is now hanging over each other over the side of my bunkbed, still soaking wet. But you’ll learn from it. The next time that I’m going to do my laundry it will be a successful story. For sure.

After this disaster I had to hurry to the subway. Nati and I were meeting at a Vietnamese restaurant called Saigon Shack in the lovely neighborhood Greenwich Village in Manhattan. This restaurant is my favorite place so far! They sell the best spring rolls and sweet potato fries for the cheapest prices, they’re fast and when your free glass of ice-cold water is empty, there will come a nice waiter and refills it immediately with more free ice-cold water. Well that’s something I like. Holland can take a good example from this. Why so greedy all the time? Just give someone a free glass of water. Bless you Saigon Shack!

Today was my least productive day so far. The weather wasn’t too good, so going outside was also not very appealing. I just went quickly outside to get some breakfast at 3PM. I skyped. Oh, and in the evening I was going to run with the Dashing Whippets Running Team. I found them online on this app called MeetUp, where you can meet up with other people in the city by applying for the same activities. I wanted to start working out again, because after four months of stuffing myself with free pasta and pizza at the restaurant where I worked, I’m not in the best shape. So I decided that it would be a good idea if I went for a run with a real motivated group of people.

The Dashing Whippets (I kind of like the name - it sounds like a group of fast people) were going to meet at 7PM, but unfortunately I arrived too late. What a surprise. They already left. Well, maybe it was for the best and I saved myself for what could've been a very painful situation. I decided to still go for a run by myself and noticed that after 2 miles, I was already completely exhausted. So I think that running 5 miles with a team that’s been running real marathons since they were born was probably somewhat over-ambitious. But one day I will be a Dashing Whippet as well. Watch me.

That was my weekend in a nutshell. Or maybe not in a nutshell - sorry for the length of this blogpost. It was probably not the best idea to stuff three days in one post. 

vrijdag 6 oktober 2017

Day 7: How it's going so far


πŸ“ Location: Staten Island Ferry, New York, USA

The first week of my big adventure is almost over. It’s crazy how time flies. It feels like yesterday that I said goodbye to my home for 3 months and hopped on a plane that took me to the other side of the world.

I’m not going to lie. The first week was kind of hard for me. Huge ups and downs. I realized that I came to this city with big expectations. I’d heard all these amazing stories about language courses. That it would be an unforgettable experience because you would meet people from all around the world and that those people would become very close friends. Almost like a little family.

Unfortunately New York is much more individual. Most students at Embassy English (name of the school) are here for a long period of time, some even more than a year. They’ve already built up a whole life outside of school with work and everything, so it’s hard to connect with them. And because almost everyone is already 21+, they can enjoy the nightlife of New York, while I have to go home because there’s no way that I can enter any club or bar in town. That’s a big bummer.

To be honest I’m thinking about quitting the course after next week. I just don’t really care about what they teach you in class - too grammatical and theoretical for me - and I’m basically on my phone for three hours straight. And because I actually reached my goal - making a few friends in this city :) - it just feels like a waste of money.

So in short: I came with the wrong mindset to this city. And it took some time to abandon that. But don’t get me wrong. I’m not crying my eyes out 24/7 wishing that I wouldn’t have come here. Not at all. Maybe the course didn’t worked out for me the way I’d hoped and I felt a little sad about that, but that’s not the end of the world. I still have New York to enjoy. And I do! This city is truly as amazing as they say it is. When I walk around I look like the typical tourist. Always making pictures with my camera, trying to capture every little detail of this amazing place.

My goal for the next few weeks is to experience the city less as a tourist and more as a local. Hopefully even meet a few locals. I’ve found a few sites online where they tell you which places are nice to visit and not as touristic. So that’s where I’ll be!

But this week I’m still the biggest tourist. Today, my friend Nao and I took the ferry to Staten Island. It was so nice. Standing for 20 minutes on the boat, breathing in the salty air, just looking at the Statue of Liberty and the skyline of New York slowly fading away without saying anything. Those are the best moments. The biggest ups. Then I realize that I’m so lucky to be able to experience this adventure and that I should enjoy it 100% before it’s over.

So family and friends, I’m doing fine! At some moments more than others, but I think that’s part of it. Know that I miss you. But I’ll be back soon. X