12 weeks, 6 life lessons, 3 bikes, 1 city.

“I think I’ve just put yogurt in my coffee, its curdling”

1. Communication and culture chaos

My first two weeks living in Amsterdam were spent lost and confused. Shopping and travelling to work were no longer simple everyday tasks, they was mission impossible!

Figuring out the transportation system was like trying to crack the Da Vinci code. I can barely transport myself around England and I have lived there for 20 years. Reflecting on how I felt travelling to work on my first day I can’t help but laugh because now the tram system is second nature. It’s rare that I use public transport in the week as I bought myself a bike to travel to and from work. Bikes however is a touchy subject at the minute as I’m currently riding round Amsterdam on my third as my first two were stolen. When you leave the keys in the lock though can you really expect anything less?

For anyone planning a trip to Amsterdam in the future make sure you hire a bike. You get to see so much more of the wonderful city. Take it through Vondelpark and embrace the scenery and Dutch culture. But first make sure you have full travel insurance because Dutch cyclists are roofless. No exaggeration! Vondelpark is one of my favourite places in Amsterdam. The atmosphere is amazing and the scenery is beautiful. Unlike back home you don’t see unintelligent teenagers roaming around in army’s draped in Henry Lloyd causing mischief wherever and whenever possible.

Due to all the cycling through the park and to work not only have my leg muscles increased but so has my appetite. I literally cannot stop eating! I wouldn’t mind but doing a food shop when every food label is written in Dutch is extremely difficult.

park

“Oh a Jumpsuit is called a Jumpsuit because that’s what you just out of planes in”

2. Fashion facts for dummies.

This is one of many brainwaves I have had whilst starting my new job at Mexx. Before starting my placement I was very apprehensive about working in the world of fashion. I didn’t really know what to expect. Most people have a preconceived idea of the fashion industry thinking it’s terrifically glamorous but when I was sat at my desk one day staring aimlessly into my computer screen I come to the conclusion fashion is not all fun and games. This was another one of my magical brainwaves.

bike

“Is it half 5 yet?”

3. Carrier confusion

One of the most useful pieces of information I have learnt so far working for Mexx is that I positively do not want to work in an office. I literally cannot still at my desk. My eyes start to pour staring at a screen all day and my bum becomes so numb. Office work is defiantly not for me. The unnerving question is what do I want to do? I’m trusting another brainwave will emerge any day in the near future. I say trust but really I mean hope.

 river

“Sophia!!! Put some clothes on.”

4. Confidence is the foundation of all success.

As much as I love fashion and shopping for new clothes, I seem to have gained a reputation for being in the nude. Some people admire my confidence whereas others just think I’m bonkers! On a more serious note however…even though I’m dazed about where I want to be in 10 years’ time, I have learnt the one characteristic I can count on to get me there is confidence.  Dr Norman Vincent Peale once said “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy”-Wise words from a wise man.

A few weeks ago I met up with graphic designer Naomi den Beston. I love the work she produces. Seems as though she’s based in Amsterdam I thought why not drop her an email introducing myself thinking what have I got to lose? I received a lovely email back inviting me to join her for coffee at her apartment. She gave me so much useful advice over coffee and told me about a bunch of events nearby I should attend and people in the design industry she will introduce me too. On my way home overwhelmed with her kindness I thought to myself how if I never had the confidence to send the first initial email all these new exciting doors would never gave been opened.

amster

“I could call you and we could see if we can arrange to work together?”

6. Hard work pays really does pay off!

During my journey home deep in thought after talking with Naomi I also started to reflect on our conversation. At first I thought about how lucky I am to be living in Amsterdam and have the opportunity to meet with lovely people like her. Amsterdam is such a great place to be spending my placement year, known for its creativity, design and inspiration floods the streets. After a while I realized (not only had I missed my tram stop deep in thought) it’s not luck that has brought me to Amsterdam. It was hard work; you make your own luck.

dddd

“What’s wrong Soph?”

5. Family and friends

Four weeks after flying the nest I started to feel an inkling of homesickness. It’s not so much the place as let’s face it who could possibly miss the glorious sights and stench of Ellesmereport. Family and friends is what I miss most.  Moving to a foreign country having to be totally independent has made me appreciate the people in my life to a greater degree. It scares me sometimes how for the first time in my life I can’t just pick up the phone to my dad and get him to pick me up or to ask one of my many stupid questions.  I try my best not to let it bother me as after all when I get too homesick I can always just book a flight home at the click of a mouse. Plus flying home warrants a shopping spree in duty free. A self-confessed shopaholic like me can’t really complain. Life couldn’t be much better right now.

dad

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