As promised, the first of many Dam entries. Pictures to come. The dust is still settling so pardon my brevity and lack of wit.
This study abroad thing got off to a very rocky start. Apparently it is neigh impossible to find housing in Amsterdam on one's own.The custom here is to hire a broker and pay him/her a commission equal to one month's rent at your new abode. Add that to the traditional 2-month's deposit and first month's rent and you're looking at a very pricey move-in.
Ignorant of the realities of Dam's housing market, like true head-strong Americans, Cristy and I rejected the univerisyt's housing service, which places students in rshared ooms across the city. I'm 26 (again) for crap's sake! I didn't want a dorm. And I wanted to room with Cristy, not someone's Dutch grandmother (I'm sure Dutch grandmother's are wonderful people). So we breezed into town on August 26th expecting to find our own housing in the picturesque city center. It was a wearying and discouraging task.
We responded to approximately 45 ads on Craigslist and Expatriates.com, of which only 4 turned out to be real. The rest? Frauds. The malfeasors would respond to our e-mails with some sad story about how they had to leave Dam and had no one with whom to leave a set of keys. But no fear. If you but wire them a deposit, they will FedEx you a key. Oh, and you must also supply your passport number, sex, birthday, last residence etc. Disgust!
Despite our naivete Cristy and I landed on our feet. 3 days into the hunt yours truly was loosing her mind. Unable to sleep due to fears of impending homelesness. And then we found a real ad, from a real woman, a Brit at that. The apartment is not in city center, which turned out to be a good thing. It's a much quieter neighborhood. The apartment is charming, fully stocked and furnished, and a quick bike ride to school.
Finally I can take a breath and look around at the city. I'm on my way out to get a bike, and tomorrow I'll tour the city for real.
Oh, one last thing. The exchange rate! Holy crappy cow! It looks like the money I saved up this summer will go to life in Dam, and not to the many European adventures of which I dreamed. Which is ok. This city may be abominably expensive, but it is beautiful.
Until next time.