When Dr. Seuss said "Oh the places you'll go," I really took it to heart. That was my favorite book as a child, and by child, I really mean my four years at NYU. That book was my personal mantra. I couldn't get enough of traveling, and towards the end of my senior year I was already itching to get out the door and run off into the metaphorical sunset of my life... in an Audi R8. Dr. Seuss eloquently said "Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to great places! You're off and away!" I was tired of waiting and being stagnant in my life. Dr. Seuss told me "No! That's not for you!" and I believed him. I applied for my master's degree. However, I tend to lean towards the extreme side of the spectrum so I decided to get my masters at the University of Amsterdam. I'm talking about Amsterdam in the Netherlands and not Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan. You would be surprised how many people I had to correct when I told them where I was going.
I had less than two months to get all my affairs in order to move to Amsterdam for 18 months. However, I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life. Continuing school was my idea of keeping up appearances. It was something to throw everyone off the fact that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and didn't know how to ask for help. I couldn't bear to stay in New York where it seemed like all my friends were moving on except for me. I envisioned that I would go to Amsterdam and learn Dutch, make new Dutch friends and perhaps even stay after I got my degree. I was actually betting on staying after my degree. However, once I got to my apartment and the landlady left, I was completely alone. This wasn't how I was supposed to feel. To pass the time before classes started I decided to start watching Criminal Minds. I don't recommend watching that show when you are on your own in a foreign country. I actually got anxiety in the supermarket with people trying to talk to me in Dutch and ended up living off of Capri Sun drinks and Frosted Flakes because I didn't recognize other food and was too nervous to eat. I kept telling myself that once class started everything would get better.
When my program started and I met everyone, they were beyond nice. Unfortunately, they were all 30 and over and had families. Nobody was going to be getting together on the weekends and going out. It was an English speaking program, but I was the only person whose first language was English. I spent most of my time helping out my classmates. Things that would take me an hour to complete would take them two days. I am not insulting them by any means, but I was completely alone in a strange place and my classmates were already so busy with school work. Most of the things we were learning were things I did as an undergraduate. Most of the books on the syllabus were books I had already read and wrote papers on. I hate that I am complaining about this, but now I wasn't being challenged in my masters program and couldn't fill the empty void. I had no friends. I was alone and I ran out of minutes on my cell phone and couldn't figure out how to add more. Also, my financial aid was giving me roadblocks. I was told I would not be receiving any type of financial aid until November. When I heard this news I had $80 in my account and was paranoid about not having enough money. I was heavily relying on receiving my financial aid and there was no way I could go three months without it. Nothing was going right and it made me doubt whether this endeavor was a good idea.
I returned to New York on my birthday, but completely humiliated. NYU made me feel like a failure and this was just icing on top of a very bitter cake. I didn't contact anybody for weeks. I didn't want to have to explain the situation or have every person give me their opinion or ask me "So what will you do now?" I didn't know and I was angry. Of course, my close friends and family were happy to have me back home, but I only took it as an insult that they didn't try hard enough to get me to stay and work it out. My boyfriend also got a new girlfriend while I was away. He kept it from me for over a month. I found out from his best friend. Of course he blamed it on me that it was my fault for leaving to begin with. At this point, I felt like I had nothing. One of my fears in life is failure and all of a sudden I was having one failure after another.
I still think about Amsterdam to this day. It was an epic fail and I'm not usually one to give up on something. I'm way too stubborn. Sometimes I think I should have just stayed and waited it out. However, I learned that going to Amsterdam wasn't the problem. It was the reasons I went for that were skewed. I still cannot wait for my next adventure. I still hopelessly believe that I can do things like this in the future, but I'm learning that the older I get the harder it becomes. I no longer believe I'm invincible.
Graduating college was scary. I regret that while I was there the only thing I could think of was the day I could leave. I miss the safety and stability of college. I was fortunate enough to live in Manhattan. I had amazing friends and the only stress I had were science midterms and finals. It feels like a completely different life now. My friends constantly tell me nobody likes you when your 23. I have failed more times since graduating college then I could have imagined and faced constant rejection. I turned 24 last week and I am trying to "remember that life's a great balancing act."
It is so important to be present in every moment of every day. Life is truly what you make of it and whether you love a moment or you hate it, learn from it! If anything you will have an entertaining story to tell all your friends. I will admit that it is a slightly heartbreaking for me to watch the House Hunters International episodes when they move to Amsterdam, or when people e-mail me to ask me what fun things are there, but in the end I was there -- even if it wasn't for 18 months. If you can't make a mistake you can't make anything, right?
"And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! 98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed." One is never too old for the philosophies of Dr. Seuss.
Stay tuned for why you should never travel to Transylvania by yourself.
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