What’s been going on 2.0

Here’s another quick update on what I’ve been doing these past few weeks since settling down! 

Besides studying Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and travelling (will include trips in a separate post), I’ve managed to do a bit of extra curricular activities. This includes weekly urban dance classes at CREA – an arts department (similar to VCA) in the University of Amsterdam. Although the classes run much slower than FLARE, it’s been really fun to develop my coordination skills, whilst burning off those stroopwaffles. We’ve been learning choreography for 3 songs, and will perform on the 24th of May, come watch if you’re interested!!


ALSO – this is a random one, but I’ve managed to find myself a job at a café! Despite considering making a bit of money on the side during my stay, I concluded that it’d be too much to balance and would wait until back in Melbourne. BUT, after my friend (who’s also on exchange) mentioned that he had started working here, and that they were looking for staff, I decided to give it a go. And the more I started to think about it, the more I questioned why I hadn’t worked in hospitality whilst at home. Having worked in fashion retail since 16, it became a routine to find similar jobs (also it’s much easier to find jobs that way). BUT, the concept of hospitality seems to resonate with my personality A LOT more.

Reasons include:

  • I TALK A LOT. Uniqlo co-workers can confirm that I was told off majority of my shifts for talking too much (I’m not sorry about that). Whilst it’s not desirable in retail usually, in hospitality (or in my case) it’s actually encouraged – as long as you simultaneously do your work.
  • You even get rewarded for being friendly, and talking to customers through tips – extra money for socialising? HECK YES
  • I LOVE FOOD. If it’s not obvious enough back home, yes, I love food.
  • I like having an active role in my job. I’ve noticed that working at a café leads to more autonomy. Especially in a big clothes chain company, you’re one of many and have many chances to slack off. Whereas, I’m beginning to make coffees, serve customers, potentially make sandwiches in the future (?) and so although it’s pretty intense, I like that idea of being responsible for things.

But the job also has its cons, such as:

  • When it’s intense, IT’S INTENSE. Because this is a small café, we only have around 3 workers at any one time. So when the people start coming and the orders pile up, I often wish I could go back to the good ol' days and hide behind a clothes rack.
  • There’s significant food wastage. Having been brought up with the Asian motto of ‘eat a lot and grow tall’ and ‘don’t waste food’, it’s been ingrained in me to finish everything – even if that means to be uncomfortably full (yay). So when I see a ¼ eaten sandwich, my heart does a little spasm and I have to close my eyes as I pour it into the trash.

THOUGH, having written the previous paragraphs just before my second shift (which was bloody overwhelming and not enjoyable), I am now seriously evaluating whether it is worth it to work while overseas. One one hand, I can make a little cash on the side, feel even more local and gain hospitality experience, but on the other hand it restricts freedom for planning spontaneous trips and hanging out with other students, even if that means bumming around in our dorms. Hopefully I can make a decision soon – stayed tuned.

'Fuel Cafe' in De Pijp

Also, I also attempted volunteering at ‘Taste before you Waste’, an organisation that uses leftovers from markets and food stores to make meals. Although I love the concept and hate food wastage (if it wasn’t obvious enough), I realised that I was putting too much onto my plate (pun very intended) and would’ve burnt out or missed out on exchange activities, or both.

Also, I can say that Amsterdam is definitely growing on me. Since it’s tiny compared to Melbourne, I initially saw it as a cute city with little to do…BUT HOW WRONG I WAS. Although the centre is not an area I’d like to live in (It’s very cramped, compact and busy), there’s activities to suit anyone. This could include:

  • Going to the plethora of museums or food markets
  • Having a drink in a bar without spending an hours pay (cocktails average around 9 eur (14 AUD))
  • Watching people so intoxicated or high struggle to walk and eventually stumble to the ground (literally happened the other day – he was not ok).

Moreover, its night life is constantly bustling, and the city is becoming more and more beautiful… could be the better weather? Being already 2 months into my exchange, I’m beginning to realise how much I haven’t done in Amsterdam, including exploring the north, going to the many different food halls and markets, and just enjoying being a tourist.  

Also, I can attest that walking around in Amsterdam without salivating is so hard – being constantly bombarded with waffles and other good but bad stuff (the mind says yes and the body says yes). I did mention in my previous post that I don’t like Dutch food – but I’m slowing accepting the fact that being healthy on exchange is unrealistic, and that I might as well just wait until I’m back in Melbourne, realise I have no money left and cry.


An alternative to exercise

It scares me that it’s nearly the end of March, when I feel like I just arrived here. I’m really trying to make the most out of my experiences here, and hope to share them in the posts to come!

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