Alright, guys – I finally left Bob’s. I mean Chapel Hill. And because of who I am, I did it in the most dramatic way possible – I left the country!
I’ll admit my decision to come to Amsterdam was an impulsive one – I had some bad luck right after graduation when I lost a digital marketing internship in Atlanta I was really excited about (no one’s fault, just some technicality issues that rendered me unqualified), and I didn’t know where to go from there. It was hard enough to face the fact that my time as a UNC student was over (AKA, my life was over – or that’s how it felt), and the idea of immediately committing to a permanent location was one I couldn’t wrap my head around. Most of my best friends were staying in Chapel Hill for the summer and working in Raleigh, and even though this wasn’t my post-college dream, it was just enough to make me stay in the area much longer than I should have. Of course, my lease at the beloved Green Mile wasn’t infinite, and unless I wanted to move back home (which I didn’t), I had to make moves. Immediately.
I got the okay from my parents to move to Raleigh even though I didn’t have a job yet, but I told myself I could find a job if I really tried. For a few weeks, I looked at jobs online and spoke with some of my career mentors, but nothing seemed right. I realized if I interviewed for a job in Raleigh at this moment, it would be clear to the interviewer that I didn’t truly want to stay in Raleigh. In fact, I did interview at a PR firm I had interned with, and loved, but I found myself talking more about my dreams of travelling and living in a big city than I did about my strengths as a public relations specialist. This was a sign for everyone in the interview room. I wasn’t right for the job, and the job wasn’t right for me. Not right then.
Studying abroad was something I always knew I would do when I went to college. I would go to London, Paris, or Italy, and I would go the summer of my sophomore or junior year. I would eat lots of carbs, study as much art and fashion history as I could in my free time, and maybe even decide to move to Europe after graduation. (I would possibly meet Prince Harry and become royalty as well, but that was only if I went to London, obviously.) My parents raised me to value travel more than most things, so I thought of travel as a necessity – a foolproof investment. However, I looooved Chapel Hill. In fact, I looooved Chapel Hill so much I completely forgot to study abroad. Before I knew it, it was time to graduate from UNC, and I had not been to Europe since the summer after I graduated high school. I also hadn’t studied fashion in my spare time the way I promised myself I would, and suddenly it became clear to me that it was now or never. I would go anywhere in Europe, and I would work in the fashion industry while I was there. (Of course, I mean fashion PR – I’ll most likely pursue a career in public relations when I return to the U.S.)
Here’s one oversized sentence explaining why I chose Amsterdam: I wanted to go somewhere with lots of young people who speak English (I was SO good at Spanish 203, so I know it’s a shock to most of you that I’m not bilingual), I’ve always thought Amsterdam was gorgeous (I came when I was 9, so I remember it very clearly), and it is a hub for established and budding fashion designers, therefor making Amsterdam a little slice of fashion heaven (it’s worth mentioning that Vogue entered the Netherlands in 2012).
With all of this in mind, I emailed multiple fashion PR agencies in Amsterdam, found someone who would hire an American who couldn’t speak any Dutch, and booked a flight. I told my closest friends about my decision pretty immediately – they were all happy for me of course, but it was clear that the decision surprised them (and saddened some of them). I know I had discussed the possibility of going abroad with my friends before, but to be fair, I tell my friends a lot of things that are complete nonsense, and even I didn’t know if I was being serious about this.
I’ve been in Amsterdam for almost 2 weeks now and I still have frequent moments of doubt about this decision. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to become friends with three awesome girls living in my apartment complex, but before that, I didn’t know a single person here. Keep in mind that when students study abroad, they normally come in groups and immediately have friends to explore with. I don’t have this, and that has made the transition a weird one. On top of that, the time change from home is just big enough (6 hours) to make it nearly impossible to keep up with my friends the way I thought I would. When I’m at work, they’re sleeping. When I’m off work, they’re at work. When I go to bed, they get off work and are ready to talk. I can’t imagine doing something like this 10 years ago – social media is incredible!!! (Blog post on this to come – it’s my favorite thing to talk about besides myself. JK… kind of.)
Luckily, I haven’t had a ton of time to feel lonely. I’ve been distracted by my full-time work schedule and the fact that I’m in Amsterdam. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen some very beautiful places. I discover something new every day – a restaurant, a shop, a bridge, a neighborhood (the Jordaan is my favorite right now, but I plan to acquaint myself with the oh-so-hip De Pijp next).
I’ll talk more about my work experiences and my first weekend in the city (it got weird) in my next post, but the main takeaway from this is that I’m here and I’m determined to make the most out of this experience. I know it seems cliché, but I’m not just learning new things about Amsterdam everyday. I’m learning new things about myself, and that’s exactly why I came.