A College Student Abroad: What to Do in Amsterdam

Theres more than weed in the city of canals.

Things I'm proud of from our trip to Amsterdam:

1. I stayed in my first hostel and only cried one and a half times
2. I had frites with mayonnaise (I replaced the mayonnaise part with hot cheese, but I think it still counts)
3. I was never struck by a bike**
4. I didn't caption an Instagram photo "AmsterDAMN"
5. I never fell in a canal or pushed anyone else into one (close calls on both accounts)
6. I figured out the tram system and only took one unintentional 45-minute detour
7. I did not enthusiastically approach and consequently frighten EVERY Dutch person with a dog in the basket of their bike (just most)
8. Despite their presence on the feet of every pretty Dutch woman, I did not buy heeled sneakers
9. I paid attention to each tour at least 40% of the time
10. I only poked one precious work of Dutch art

**This is due entirely to the prowess of Dutch bike riders. I was a hazard.

Walking Tours

The best way to see Amsterdam is on foot!

Amsterdam is beautiful and strange. We spent our first afternoon on walking tours. We had had the opportunity to wake up early one of the previous mornings to sign up for these groups. When a friend came and informed me of this on that morning, I answered something like "ITS 8 O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING GET OUT OF MY ROOM I'LL KILL YOU IM SLEEPING GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT" and then rolled back over. So I ended up in a group of strangers. This turned out to be a blessing.

I found myself wandering a city that didn't know me, with people that didn't know me; I could have been any soul at all passing in and out of the shade along the canals on that sunny Friday. I could be anyone, and Amsterdam could be anything. It became a city of possibilities to me that day. I passed every race and creed of person and looked them in the face, trying to see who they were, where they've been and where they're going.

I got a lot of dirty looks.

Perhaps Amsterdam wasn't feeling as Romantic as I was, but it was lovely all the same.

The Rijks Museum

We explored the Rijks museum on Saturday. By "explored," I mean a friend and I supported each other's exhausted bodies until we could find a place to sit down. (The clubs in Amsterdam are VERY fun, and the 8:00 wake up time Saturday morning was CRUEL.) We explored for about 45 minutes, trying to inundate our aching heads with culture.

We found our heads uncooperative. Few people were interested in the "Early Medieval landscape sketch" wing (shocking I know), and we found an incredible bench.

I mean this bench was special.

About the size of a twin bed and as soft as a bed of roses, we curled up like the little hung-over kittens we were and drifted into a lovely, guilty, museum nap.

I awoke to the sound of shoes on the marble floor. A security guard passed. He didn't acknowledge our sad scene so I was unperturbed. He passed again.
And again. Each time he looked increasingly uncomfortable.
My friend snoozed on.
I pretended to be fascinated by a 3 by 5 sketch of a hill with one tree growing from the top.
He passed again.
Finally, our friend approached us with another, apparently more bold security guard.
I hit my friend. She snorted but didn't awake.
"Ma'am," the bold defender of Dutch culture said, clearly uncomfortable.
I smacked her again.
"You just…you just can't sleep in here."
Finally, my friend awoke and looked bleary-eyed at our new pals.
We were escorted from the medieval landscape sketch wing.

We saw some Rembrandt too. I was asked to please not poke "Night Watch," despite that everyone had made SUCH a big deal about Rembrandt's use of texture.

The Dutch are very strict about museum protocol it turns out.

Look Out for Bikes!

Next, we wandered around looking at the fairytale buildings and canals. The Dutch merchants who built the city spared no expense. I love the number of trees. That's something we've lost in our American concrete jungles. There's space in Amsterdam, you're aware of being in a city, certainly, but greenery is never entirely out of sight, and the cobblestone streets are wide and you can see the sky at all times.

Mostly what we did while taking this all in, was dodge bikes. There are more bikes in the Netherlands than people.
That's a fact.
There are more bikes in Amsterdam than there MOTHERF*CKING NEEDS TO BE. That's an observation.

Bikes are holy there. Bikers can go in the bike lane, on the sidewalk, on the road; frankly, I think a person would be allowed into the royal bathroom while the king was taking a shit if they were on a bike.

I imagine that a jungle full of snipers is similar to the streets of Amsterdam.

You are walking along, minding your own business, enjoying the day, when suddenly you hear, "ANN JE LINKERKANT!!" You dodge wildly, you hear the spinning of wheels, you smell the hair gel, you question your underwear choice because you aren't sure these are the pair you want to die in, and then they're past. You lived. Another bike went by. Your heartbeat begins to slow you start to relax again and then suddenly,


I think I aged 10 years in Amsterdam.

Coffee Shops

Amsterdam has been known since the 1700s as a city of acceptance. The Dutch are also notoriously shrewd businessmen. This combination eventually lead to the legalization and consequential distribution of products and services illegal in most of the world. John Green said, "Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth, it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin."(I'm sorry I quoted John Green like every other white nineteen-year-old girl in the world but that is a bomb quote okay?)

So, young and curious, we went out to explore what this freedom meant. Here are my observations on two of Amsterdam's biggest draws for a lot of people:

Coffee shops sell coffee and all kinds of bizarre juices and sodas. They also sell marijuana
i.e ganja, kush, dat loud, yay-yay, sticky-icky, the dankest broccoli in all of Nazo, wacky tobacky, hippie cabbage, jazz cigarettes, cosmic shrub, God's pubes, etc.

Coffee shops have a strange vibe. They were very, very, very quiet. All that could be heard was soft funky music occasionally punctuated by me excitedly announcing the newest clever name I had thought of for cannabis. It was dark and no one really talked to each other. The other thing I noticed was how few Dutch people were actually in the coffee shops. In fact, according to all the locals we spoke to, most Dutch people don't smoke pot at all. According to Rick Steve's travel blog "..most have never tried it or even set foot in a coffee shop." Summarily, coffee shops seemed like havens for tourists trying to feel a little wild. I had a really good latte at one, but beyond that, I found them underwhelming.

The Redlight District

With a large group of friends, I headed into the Redlight district around 1 a.m. (when Amsterdam starts to get going.) I was excited. The red light district is world famous for its glitz and scandal. I had started to love the idea that these women were sexually liberated goddesses, protected by the law and under no man's control. I was expecting to find a nighttime world of sparkling lights and bold beautiful women.

Honestly, it didn't live up to its reputation. Mostly, it was full of ogling tourists.

Maybe worth seeing, but also maybe worth skipping,

All in all, I adored Amsterdam, and its houses that glinted of wealth and a golden age who's splendor is hard to imagine. I loved the sidewalk café's along the canals, I loved the wide streets and the art and the music and the feeling of life.

If you have a chance to go to Amsterdam, go.

Go and introduce yourself to that strange smirking lady of canals, in figuring her out, you may just figure out a little about yourself.

Read More from Journiest

Subscribe now

Related Posts
Travel Tips

Best Jobs for People Who Love To Travel

If you want to travel but have a job that is currently holding you back, here are a few of our suggestions for the best jobs for people who love to travel.

For many people, traveling is an amazing experience, but traveling is not always feasible because of responsibilities to work.

One way to get around this roadblock is to get a job that will let you travel and see the world. Here are some of the best jobs for people who love to travel.

Hostelworld HostelworldHostelworld.com


A translator is a wonderful job for those who want to travel. It will bring you to many places as you work, so long as those places speak the language you can translate. The great thing about translating is the variety of work you can get by translating for specific clients or just translating for tourists in the area. You can choose what type of scene you wish to work in very easily.


A pilot fits the definition of a job that gets to travel perfectly. Now, whether you are a private pilot or a commercial pilot, you will still get to fly all over the planet. The only major problem with this job is the requirement of flight classes. But once you get your license, you can fly freely around the world while making yourself money to fund your trips.

Travel blogger

Being a travel blogger is a temperamental job but, if done correctly, it will allow you to visit anywhere you want. Writing to fans as you travel the world can be a fun and exciting way to engage with the planet. This job can be difficult to do, though, as you must be able to write consistently and capture your audience with each post.

English teacher

This may not sound like a job that allows you to travel, but schools all around the world are always looking for more people to teach English.

In this career, you would move near the school that you would teach at and live there over the course of your time there. The interesting thing about this job is that it does not necessarily require a teaching degree, depending on the school and country in question. You also get to live in a new country for an extended period.

When it comes to the best jobs for people who love to travel, these are just a few of our suggestions. There are plenty of jobs where you can travel around the world, but these ones are far-reaching and cover a lot of different lifestyles. They might seem like pipe dreams, but hey, you never know!

Seattle, Washington is a rainy, coffee-fueled, coastal town often referred to as the "Emerald City."

Located against the ecological wonderland of Puget Sound, this cosmopolitan, seaside city is a mishmash of arts, culture, history, nature, and, of course, cloudy weather. Thanks to its proximity to nature, its greenery, and its culturally rich, big-city atmosphere, the city is becoming increasingly popular, both for tourists and those looking for a change of scenery.

The Big Stops: Tourist Seattle

If you only have a few days to visit Seattle, you'll probably want to check out the area's most famous attractions.

For nature lovers and summit-chasers, there's the imposing, wildflower-shrouded Mt. Rainier.

Mt. Rainierthebesttravelplaces.com

Mt. Rainier

For foodies, there's the popular Pike Place Market, a giant patchwork of food-sellers and friendly chaos where you can purchase everything from giant crabs' legs to bottomless amounts of coffee (more on that later).

Pike Place Marketseattle.eater.com

And finally, there's the iconic Space Needle and the Sky View Observatory, which will give you extraordinary views of the city.

Space Needlegetyourguide.com

Seattle Arts and Museums

For arts and culture lovers, Seattle has plenty to cut your teeth on. Don't miss the Chihuly Garden and Glass, a collection of extraordinary blown-glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly.

Chihuly Gardensfodors.com

Chihuly Gardens

For art, there's the giant Seattle Art Museum Downtown. Seattle also offers the Museum of Pop Culture, a nonprofit that features all your favorite icons from history, and plenty of other options.

Museum of Pop Culturesmithsonianmag.org

For some history, there's the Klondike Gold Rush Museum, which commemorates Seattle's history as a gold rush hub.

There are plenty of quirky attractions—like the giant Fremont Troll, the 18-foot sculpture in the Fremont neighborhood that cuts an imposing figure.

Fremont Trollsillyamerica.com

You could also take in the city from a boat—marine enthusiasts might enjoy visiting to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks to explore the history of this port city.

Seattle, of course, also has a gritty underground side—you may know the city from its time at the heart of the '90s grunge movement.

It also has a long, storied history that has left more than a few scars. You can literally see its underground through one of its underground tours, which will take you on a walk through the "buried city," the remnants left over from before the Great Fire of 1889.

Seattle Undergroundpinterest

Natural Wonders

Seattle is notorious for its natural wonders. For a close-up view, there's the Seattle Aquarium, a marine experience that showcases the best of what Puget Sound has to offer.

For more exposure to the beauty of Seattle's nature, try the Washington Park Arboretum, a 230-acre showcase of Seattle's wetlands and natural wonders.

Washington Park Arboretumtriposo.com

You might also pay a visit to the Alki Beach for some time with the ocean waves.

Alki BeachMetropolitangardens.blogspot.com

Or consider taking a more exhaustive adventure to Discovery Park, a giant and labyrinthine natural park at the edge of Puget Sound.

Discovery Parktrip savvy.com

Food and Drink

Food tours are also popular options for those who want to get more intimate with the city's cuisine, and Seattle is often ranked as one of the best cities for foodies.

It's also a great place for coffee-heads. You might also pay a visit to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, AKA Ultimate Starbucks, a tasting room that features a coffee library amongst other treats for coffee addicts.

Sarbucks Reserve Roasterydesigner.com

Moving to Seattle

If you're planning on moving to Seattle, locals say there's a few things you should know. First off, it is most definitely overcast the majority of the time, though the rain is rather like a mist. That makes the rare sunny day shine even more, though, locals say, in addition to fostering natural abundance.

The city is generally very congested with traffic, which can be noisy, though it offers great public transportation options, from buses to rail—regardless, you'll want to get an Orca Card for that.

Like every city, Seattle has a number of diverse and charismatic neighborhoods. For example, there's the beachy, more laid-back West Seattle.

West SeattleWest Seattle

There's the vibrant Capitol Hill, a hub of arts, culture, tech bros, and nightlife (during non-COVID times).

There's the historic and artsy Pioneer Square, featuring plenty of museums, shops, galleries, and pubs.

Pioneer Square SeattleExpedia

Fremont is a more bohemian area. Belltown is a trendy waterfront neighborhood that's close to everything.

In general, Seattle residents love the city for its proximity to nature, from beaches to glaciers, and its abundance of arts and cultural attractions. As Kimberly Kinrade said, "Seattle is for people who love culture, but refuse to sacrifice their wild nature to attain it." Residents dislike the steep cost of housing and all things that come from rising prices, including the city's large homeless population.

In general, the city is known as environmentally conscious, liberal, and dog-loving. The people are often referred to as nice but possibly a bit standoffish and cold (the "Seattle Freeze" is when you make plans to hang out and then bail, which is apparently very common). The rain can certainly get depressing, but the proximity to nature helps.

Remember, if you do happen to move: umbrellas are dead giveaways for tourists.

What's your favorite part about Seattle? What did we leave out? Let us know at @thejourniest on Twitter!


Weed World Candies Exist to Prey on Gullible Tourists

Weed is still illegal in New York, but scamming tourists is not.

You wouldn't know it walking around midtown Manhattan, but marijuana is still illegal in New York.

It does seem strange to think that perhaps the most metropolitan city in the US would be lagging behind so many other parts of the country that have legalized possession, production, and sale of cannabis and THC products, but it's true.

New York's decriminalization of marijuana has led many smokers to be more brazen with their public consumption in recent years, and Governor Cuomo recently announced plans for limited legalization for recreational use at the state level. But for the time being the sale of products containing THC is still very much illegal.

buy happiness You sure about that?

Adding to the confusion is a company that has sprung up to prey on tourist's uncertainty. Weed World trucks have multiplied at a staggering rate since they first started appearing in Midtown and the Village a few years ago. Easily a dozen RVs and vans now line the tourist-dense streets of Manhattan, advertising Girl Scout Cookies and Gorilla Glue, clad in marijuana-leaf decals and occupied by employees who are paid either to be stoned out of their minds, or just to pretend they are.

With eyes nearly in slits and an air of relaxation that suggests that customers are temporary interludes from a permanent nap, they will promise you as much as they can get away with while letting their branding do most of the work. They will sell you four lollipops for $20, which would seem like a great deal if not for the fact that they will not deliver on the strong implication that they'll get you high.

They have a Twitter account where they celebrate the supposed availability of weed and claim to "have New York locked down." They'll even sell you vape cartridges that advise you to "get medicated," and which are packed with potent doses of… flavor?

weed world truck

An employee once assured me that their candies do contain THC—maybe they wouldn't be so brazenly dishonest today—and in a drunken state I coughed up $5 to test that claim. There is a faint weedy taste to their candies, and you may find trace amounts of CBD inside, but that's it. It's a scam. There is no THC. Nothing that will give their customers the experience they're selling.

Worse than the trucks is the Weed World Candies storefront that opened in midtown in 2019. Just walking past you would swear that people were passing a massive blunt inside.

The smell is unmistakable and overpowering, except that it's fake. Whatever chemical fragrance they pumped onto the street, it was not connected to anyone smoking weed. Inside, the psychedelic wall art complemented shelves lined with suggestive candies and boxes emblazoned with pot leaf insignia.

Whatever the venue, they are all too happy to sell you overpriced hemp products and CBD creams and chocolates made to look like nugs. And if you're a tourist, or a moron like me, you might believe the scam long enough to give them money, but nothing they sell will get you high.

weed world store Hiroki Kittaka

The owners of Weed World, Judah Izrael and Bilal Muhammad—who prefers to go by "Dro Man" or "Doctor Dro"—will defend their products by claiming that they serve to promote legalization and decriminalization efforts by normalizing the idea of public sale of marijuana. But at no point in the purchasing process is the illusion that their candies will get you high broken. At no point are their customers offered literature explaining the mission of Weed World.

On their website's FAQs page, there is no mention of THC or its absence from their products, but the first question, "How much should I eat?" is answered, "It's all based on your tolerance but there's no limit." Tolerance for what? Sugar? The company—which originated in Alabama and has spread to cities around the country—mostly seems like a very profitable way to sell candy to gullible adults.

weed world wall art Nicole Mallete

The best thing I can say in their defense is that one of their trucks was recently busted by police in Saraland, Alabama, with products that "tested positive for marijuana." Assuming this isn't a screw up or deliberate frame-job by the police, it's possible that some of the Weed World trucks are using their faux activism as a front for selling actual drugs. If so, that would be the most honest thing about this company. Until that's confirmed, ignore these trucks and maybe just ask a friend for a hookup.