I arrived at Prins Hendrikkade 189 in Amsterdam with two suitcases that surpassed the airline weight limit by a landslide, my carry-on overflowing with all of my valuables, and a fleet of family ready to move me in to my new home.
Since my dad’s cousin and her husband live in Leiden, a smaller town outside of Amsterdam, they were eager to help me move in. They were insistent on providing me with all the comforts of home—including a supply of toilet paper that is larger than the actual toilet. After climbing up four flights of stairs, I finally arrived in my first real apartment.
When I moved out of my room at home in Munster, Indiana, I thought I was ready to live on my own. My freshmen year I lived in the dorms on campus with my best friend from high school. Although it was a step closer to independence, I still had the comforts of my RA, the RPS cafeteria, and a little piece of home sleeping on the bunk just below me.
The next year I moved into the Delta Gamma house. Separated from all my friends from my hometown, I was ready to get out of my comfort zone and meet new people on my own. Nonetheless, I did have a cook providing me with two meals a day, a maintenance staff cleaning my bathroom every morning, and a house mom to take care of just about everything else.
Even though I developed this newfound sense of independence at a college that was three and a half hours away from home, I really didn’t know anything about the concept. On the other side of the world however, I was about to receive a major wake-up call.
My apartment was larger than I expected. It has two bedrooms, a shared bathroom, and a shared kitchen. I live with a student from Indiana University-South Bend in one room, and the other room is occupied by a fellow Indiana University School of Journalism student.
Although I have been enjoying my spacious residence, my stay here has not been without difficulties. I haven’t quite mastered the stove, which is troublesome since we have no microwave or oven. I also haven’t gotten accustomed to climbing four flights of stairs before I get to my door. The lack of AC in my room has also been problematic for the unusually hot weather that has been thrust upon the city of Amsterdam.
But instead of worrying about the apparent adversity that comes along with living on your own, I decided to look on the brighter side of things. My lack of cooking appliances has led me to numerous restaurants and cafes in the city. My daily battle with the stairs in my building has given me killer thigh muscles, and thankfully the lack of AC has given me the motivation to go explore the many world-class (and air-conditioned) museums that Amsterdam has to offer.
Being independent isn’t as glamorous as Kelly Clarkson’s 2003 hit makes it sound. But aside from the little quirks of my new living space, I couldn’t ask for a better place to call home for the next four weeks. Learning to adapt to a new environment where I’m finally on my own has given me the confidence I will most certainly need next year when I move out of Bloomington and into my own place. For now I’m just taking this new step towards independence one flight of stairs at a time.