I Amsterdam

I Amsterdam

From their original laid-back country to a country filled with thousands of tourists every day, what is Amsterdam really like to visit? From seeing the recent articles published about the popular tourist attraction ‘I Amsterdam’ sign being removed from the city, I decided to reminisce on my trip to Amsterdam in September. I have to say it really is one of the most easy-going countries I have travelled to date and think it is a country everyone needs to experience.

With the recent masses of tourists landing in the city every day, the council decided that they needed to try do something to cut down the number of tourists within the city. I can safely say the city is probably one of the busiest cities I have ever stepped foot in. Every other step you take you’re either going to be hit by a tram or a cyclist. They even have traffic lights for cyclists it’s that bad. Traffic lights!!!! The sign that the city has removed from the Rijksmuseum has been seen as a background in a marketing story, the sign was made to show the individuality within the city however, it turned into a huge tourist attraction and made the city into a marketing ploy. In saying this I don’t understand why they believe the sign being removed is going to deter people from the country, as I myself didn’t see the big deal with the sign. But yes, I was a typical tourist and I did have to go see it and get my photo with the sign…

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Anyway, back to my trip now and why despite the city themselves not wanting tourists here are some of the reasons why I think if you haven’t been to Amsterdam, then you need to book your flight ASAP.

First of, there is the whole legalisation of ‘weed’ not going to lie this is probably the main reason why most people go to Amsterdam. The legalising of this must be doing something right… everyone that I met while I was there were the nicest people you could come across. I know we like to believe that Ireland is the best and we are hands down the nicest people in the world and everyone loves the Irish, I think the Dutch need some recognition when it comes to this trait. Whenever, I first landed we went to one of the cafes it was called 420 café, I had never experienced anything like it. It was a café filled with smoke and everyone just sitting as calm as anything, there was even a cat lying passed out in front of me, which really just sums the country up.  One of the things that baffled me was whenever we went to a bar later that night, I overhead an American man asking the barman could he smoke tobacco inside, bearing in mind that everyone was smoking weed inside the bar… the man said no smoking tobacco it has to be outside. I just couldn’t grasp my head round it. The man then explained and said it’s because they believe weed is good for you where as tobacco is a completely different story.

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Another thing they say to do when in Amsterdam is take a boat trip down their canals. Whenever we decided to do this it ended up raining, but that was not the worst part about it. The boat trip was the most boring thing I have ever endured. But in saying that it clicked whenever I seen that the only people getting on this boat were 40+ I knew we made a mistake with it. Amsterdam is a city that all streets near look the exact same due to the way the buildings look, so if you do decide to take a cruise down the canal, please don’t make the same mistake I did and put the earphones in. Otherwise, you’ll wonder why the driver has been taking you round the exact same part over and over again.

One of the other things I did when in Amsterdam was the ‘ADAM Lookout’. I would recommend this part to anyone, however, make sure you have your bank card with you at it or you won’t get very far. I made the mistake of not bringing one and the only reason we actually got to go was because we pre-bought our tickets, I think it was the only place in the city to not take cash which was strange for such a big tourist attraction. It also is hard to find but if you visit the lookout and find yourself on a boat with about 100-foot passengers, 50 bike passengers and 3 mopeds then you’re in the right direction. When arriving the swing looks terrifying whenever your looking down from below as it is just you are sitting in a swing being swung over the edge of one of the tallest buildings in Amsterdam. But I would recommend you do it as you see some of the nicest views.

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Despite the city looking to cut down the number of tourists visiting Amsterdam, I would highly recommend that if you haven’t been then it is a city you need to experience ASAP. From seeing the red-light district to being swung over the edge of a building, it truly is one of the most beautiful cities.

Kacie O’Connor is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Linked in – Kacie O’Connor; Twitter – @kacieoconnor; and Instagram – @kacieoconnor.

The good, the bad and the ugly of student life.

From the moment I decided that I wanted to go to university in 6th year, I suppose you could say it was all I could think about. The independence, partying and of course the student loan. Coming to the end of my uni experience I decided now is the perfect time to reminisce on the good memories and of course the bad… I suppose those preparing for University and those that have just started are wondering what the downside of this life could possibly be. In my experience, I did only have good memories of student life minus the landlords I have encountered with over the past three years.

From the moment you first get that student loan into your bank you feel like you’re the richest person on this planet, until its 4 months down the line and you’re ringing your bank begging for an overdraft. If I was to give one piece of advice when it comes to your loan, it would be pay your rent up front and then you won’t feel as half as rich anymore. However, in saying that I don’t think I ever learnt from my own mistakes, so don’t feel bad if you’re only a month into your loan and you have half of it spent already.

When it comes it choosing the house that you’re going to live in for most of the year, do it wisely. My experience when it comes to student houses hasn’t been great, from the ceiling near caving in in my first-year house to my bedroom ceiling actually caving in in my second-year house. The luxury house that we viewed at the start turned into a living nightmare was the only way to sum up this house. We thought it was the best house within the holylands until we had realised a month in and we were living in an Ikea showroom and not a real house.

From the moment it had click with us that this house only looked nice but didn’t perform like the way you expect a house to, that’s whenever it went downhill for us. When you realise the house that you’re meant to live in is the worst place in the world, what else do you think of doing as a student apart from using it as a house for drinking. The house slowly dwindled in condition which eventually when it came to May time we couldn’t even bare the smell of the amount of drink that had been split over our living room. In fact, the living room was a complete and utter eyesore.

However, another reason for turning what was meant to be our home into an eyesore was the landlord. The experience that we had with our landlord was the worst encounter you would ever wish to have. Our house was falling apart, and they wouldn’t answer the phone to us, the only ever contact we would have with them was whenever it was the first of the month and they were looking their £250. There was actually one time whenever they eventually came to fix a leak that we had for about a month and the ‘builders’ were throwing bricks off our roof and we were told “do not go out your back or you will die”. I’m not too sure but I don’t think it was in anyway safe or legal what they were doing. Anyone we had told about our landlord, knew of him and knew what he was like, so if you ever go to rent a house in the holylands, I would advise you to use a legal property agent.

In saying all this, I can’t recommend student life enough so enjoy it while you can but just don’t pick the worst house and landlord in the holylands.

Kacie O’Connor is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @kacieoconnor