Last year, I spent a semester abroad in southern France. With all of western Europe as my playground, I was eager to see as many new cities, experience as many different cultures, and just explore as much of Europe as I could. Even if that meant I had to travel on my own.
When it came time to plan my Spring Break, I had the opportunity to experience one of Holland’s largest national holidays in Amsterdam, Netherlands, so of course I could not pass it up. I discovered that King’s Day coincided with the beginning of my week-long holiday. I asked the other exchange students if they would be interested in spending a couple of days in the Dutch city with me, but everyone else already had their plans.
So, with the determination to see Amsterdam and to the dismay of my family and friends, I booked a plane ticket for one to the Dutch capital for the holiday weekend.
I arrived at Schiphol Airport on a Friday evening. After buying something orange (which is a MUST for King’s Day) and grabbing dinner, I headed out to my hotel via the hotel shuttle.
The next day (Saturday) was King’s Day.
I started off my day at the Anne Frank Huis. I walked through the dark rooms, the narrow halls, and it was all too surreal to be there, having read Anne Frank’s diary in middle school. I would definitely recommend that you pay a visit if you are ever in Amsterdam.
It was nearly midday when I ventured back out to the canals, and by that time, the city of Amsterdam was awake. Everywhere I looked, all I saw was orange and people.
It only took about an hour of people-watching and city walking for me to realize what this holiday really was... another great reason for the Dutch to wear oranje with pride, party on the canals, and celebrate the day.
Being a young woman, traveling solo is not exactly a recommended option. I find that a lot of women are discouraged to travel by themselves because they are told that they shouldn’t travel alone. Yes, it’s nice to have company, but sometimes, the best company is yourself.
In general, traveling alone can quickly reveal any fear or self-doubt you may have. But if you’re willing, you can learn a lot about yourself and the world.
For example, you learn how to trust your instincts and how to problem solve quickly and creatively. Plus, you have the freedom to do whatever you desire without the worry of displeasing a travel companion. I loved being able go wherever I wanted, when I wanted. And speaking for myself, I find it so exciting to be in a city where no one knows your name.
There are moments when I become anxious and second-guess or doubt myself. The unknown can be scary, but it’s also what makes life interesting. Embrace it and keep exploring!