The last day in Amsterdam started off with a visit to the Rijksmuseum where they have a very big collection of Dutch art, spanning all the way from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. I was a bit tired after the night before, but it was still interesting. Their most famous painting is "The Night Watch" by Rembrandt, but they also have paintings by Vermeer, Van Gogh, Steen and other important Dutch artists.

After the Rijksmuseum I went back to the hostel to rent a bike. It was amazing, I didn't realise how much I missed biking. I haven't even say on a bike since we left Norrköping in early September last year, so it had been a long time. But it was really nice biking around Amsterdam in the nice weather. After a while I parked the bike and sat down at a restaurant terrace. I sat there in the sun reading, eating a delicious teppanyaki and just enjoying it - vacationing on your own is amazing!

With the luncheon over with, I went shopping a little. I actually bought a pair of jeans, a pair of jean shorts and a dress - all things I've thought about buying for a long time. I also had time to visit some churches, a flea market and biking around the canals just enjoying myself. For dinner, I bought take away pasta from a restaurant and sat down in the grass at Museumpleijn once again with my book and my dinner. When it started to get cold I went back to the hostel and hung out there for a while, chatting to the guy in the reception and preparing for leaving.

Woke up to this view outside the dorm room window ☺️

The Night Watch by Rembrandt

I bought some Dutch pancakes called poffertjes and sat down by one of the canals, once again with my book ^^

All in all it was an amazing weekend and I couldn't be happier that I did it! I would definitely recommend Amsterdam to anyone, I fell in love with the city and really want to go back sometime. The Dutch were also much nicer than the Parisians, which was a weird experience to someone used to the halfhearted, sometimes directly unkind service of the French, haha. It was also a weird feeling returning to Paris and realising that French is the "home language" right now - i.e. the language spoken where I live and the language that I'm used to. Well well, now I'm back anyway and trying to make the most of the few weeks we have left here 😔

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  • Sightseeing
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So the rest of yesterday didn't go quite as planned, but I still had a really good time. I walked all the way from the Anne Frank house to the Rijksmuseum (which was quite a way), but when I came there it was only 45 min until they closed. Since it's a quite expensive museum, I wanted to have lots of time for visiting it and not just 45 min, so I decided to take it today instead. So I went out, bought a freshly squeezed orange juice and laid down on the grass at read. It was so nice, I'd done so much walking that it was nice to just lay down and rest a little.

I went back to the hostel to rest and freshen up a little (I was sweating so much yesterday, it was so warm) before heading for the Anne Frank house once more. When I came there, the line was still very long but I really wanted to the museum and I didn't really have anything better to do, so I just took a place in the line and brought out my book. It wasn't too bad, I had to wait about 50 min I think. And with a book, the time seemed to pass so much faster. Anyway, the museum was great. It affected me more strongly than I thought it would actually, it was quite emotional to walk around there. It was really weird too, because I've been thinking and dreaming of going there ever since I read Anne Frank's Diary several years ago, and now I was suddenly here with just 48 hours notice. The museum was beautifully executed, with Anne's original diary on display and a room that told the story of all the people in the annex. The annex in itself was empty, since the Gestapo emptied it after the arrest and Anne's father Otto decided to keep it that way when he came back after the war. I've been thinking a lot about this decision, and come to the conclusion that I think it's a wise one. Reconstructing it would have felt a bit like trying to recreate a ghost that wasn't there anymore, and even though a history nerd like me would have loved to see the reconstructed rooms, it wouldn't have been appropriate here. All in all, I'm very happy I went there.

When I came out of the museum it was 10 pm, so I went down closer to the harbour to get something to eat and then find a bad to hang out at. I ended up in the red light district, and when I walked past a bar that seemed nice I decided to take it in the opposite order and start with the beer (the priorities of a youth...). At the bar I met three lovely Germans with whom I spent the rest of the night. We walked around in downtown Amsterdam just talking, exploring etc. I came back to the hostel around 2.30 in the morning, and after hanging out in the reception for a while, charging my phone and having an interesting conversation with the night shift receptionist, I went to bed. It was the sort of night I hoped for when I came here, so I'm very satisfied ☺️

You weren't allowed to take photos inside the museum, but this is the house at Prinsengracht 263 where they hid.

Now I've seen Amsterdam in all the different lights of the day ^^

So my plan today is the Rijksmuseum, and then rent a bike and bike around Amsterdam. Maybe visit some churches, look in some shops etc. I also have to buy a fridge magnet, for our collection on the fridge in Paris. My bus back to Paris leaves at 10 pm tonight, so I have plenty of time to do sightseeing today as well 😚

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Guess what? I'm in Amsterdam! Thursday morning I sat and looked at bus tickets to go somewhere next weekend, but then I found tickets back and forth to Amsterdam that suited me perfectly, so I booked them and less than 48 hours later I arrived in the Dutch capital. I caught a night bus from Paris that took 8,5 hours, so I came here at 7.20 am this morning. When I came in to town I went for a stroll along one of the canals and then sat down on a bench in the sunlight and had my breakfast. After a brief stop at McDonald's for a change of clothes and some wifi-time (I'm not travelling very fancy, as you can see), I walked to my hostel. The weather here is really warm and sunny and it's so nice to just walk around and be happy about being here. It's also the first time I travel all by myself, so it's a good learning experience as well ^^

After making a stop at the hostel I went out to start the sightseeing. The first stop was the "I amsterdam sign" in front of the Rijksmuseum, which was very crowded. I also discovered the first downside of travelling alone: it gets more difficult to get photos of yourself at the important tourist attractions. I hate to admit it, but I can sort of start to see one of the needs for the selfie stick (and it hurts my pride quite a lot to admit that).

Anyway, after the sign I decided to go for a boat cruise to get to know the city a little. It was really interesting and I learned a lot, which is very useful. Now I have a bit more of an idea of what I want to do and see here. The only thing I definitely had on my to do-list when I came here was the Anne Frank House, but now I'm starting to form a plan for what to do tomorrow as well. When the boat ride finished I went to the flower market to look around there. It was quite fascinating, the Dutch really are obsessed with tulips (like the French and their baguettes). Another stereotype that seems to be true is the one about weed. Every other street smells of it, and in several stores at the flower market you could buy a "cannabis starter pack" with cannabis seeds, fertilizer and an instruction on how to grow your very own cannabis.

My plan was to visit the Anne Frank House after the flower market, so I strolled up Prinsengracht, bought a salad on the way and sat down by the canal and ate it. When I came to the museum however, the line was extremely long and a girl who worked there estimated the waiting time to be two hours. She also advised me to come around 7 pm tonight instead, and since I don't want to waste two whole hours of my precious weekend here, I decided to follow her advice. So right now I'm sitting on a bench just across the canal from the West Church (at least I think it was called that...?) and writing this, but my plan is to go to the Rijksmuseum this afternoon. They have a large collection of paintings by the Dutch 17th century masters, so I thought that would be interesting to see ☺️

When you travel alone, you have to settle for selfies...

Flowers everywhere!

I promised myself (and Kate) that I would write thoroughly about my trip here, so I'll definitely keep posting when I have seen and done more things here 😁

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I'm done with all my finals! Saturday I had the written exams and I did the oral exam half an hour ago, and now I'm done with all the exams! I'm so happy that I did it. Now I only have to wait for the results, which will be displayed Friday next week. That will be a nervous morning...

Anyway, since the last time I wrote we've been busy trying to enjoy life here as much as possible. The weather has been great most of the time, so we've had picnics, made day trips outside the périphérique, gone to bars etc. It's been a couple of really good weeks. Saturday before my exams, we gathered all of team katelucyandtheswedes and had a picnic in Parc Montsouris, because Amanda is leaving on Monday (!!) so we had to hang out all of us before then. It's really starting to creep up on me that we're leaving soon and that we don't have that much time left. It gives me anxiety every time I think of it, so I try to push it back as far as possible in my mind and enjoy the time here.

Kate, Lucy and the swedes ❤️

Now I'm hanging out at school, waiting for Amanda. We're going to a Velvet Underground exhibition at the Philharmonie today, so I'm waiting for her to get back from her yoga class. Have to spend as much time as possible with her before she leaves us...

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So les vacances are over now and everyone is back to school and work, including me. It was actually nice to go back to work yesterday, I missed my little wildlings. I spent the evening yesterday trying to hug and kiss them as much as I could, to the point that I think they might have gotten a bit fed up with it. But never mind, I missed them so I'm gonna hug them.

It's nice to be back in school too, although it's a bit more stressed now since the examens finales are in three weeks. I have a feeling I'm gonna be somewhat of a nerve wreck for the coming weeks... I finished my grammar course a few minutes ago, and en attendant the start of my phonetics course I went out and bought a croissant from the boulangerie across the boulevard. So now I'm sitting on a sunny bench eating a fresh croissant. Life is good ☺️

My current view

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Today has been a long day. Yesterday me, Cajsa and Elina had what we call a "planned spontaneous sleepover" at Elina's little chambre de bonne. This morning we (read: Elina) made scones and blueberry soup (is that the correct translation?) for breakfast and it was delicious.

After school I went to the Chambre Commercial International d'Ile de France to do a language test, mostly to evaluate myself and see what level my French has reached now. It will be fun anyway to know the result (I hope). Three hours later I was exhausted from lack of sleep and doing the test, but I had only to go to work. It wasn't too bad though, the kids were nice today. I'm really gonna miss them when I leave, but that's a different note.

Now I'm finally at home, in my own bed again. And I'm only what feels like a few seconds away from sleep, so I'm gonna succumb. I really need sleep.

From last Sunday when we went to Parc de Belleville in the evening ☺️

Alors, finalement: bonne nuit 😴

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One of my favourite places in this city is definitely at the top of Parc de Belleville. You have the most amazing view of Paris from here (I'm sitting here right now) and now that Spring is here the park beneath you is green and full of flowers in bloom. It smells like spring and it feels almost like summer. It's the perfect spot for reading, writing, listening to music, thinking or basically anything. This Sunday evening, me, Kate and Sara went here, sat down with a few beers and talked and watched the sunset and it was amazing. It almost felt like a summer night.

  • Everyday life
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So it's been a while since any of us wrote something now... We're busy doing stuff to not write about on the blog. I'll just write a quick summary on what has happened since last time.

- me, Amanda and her boyfriend booked tickets to go and see the last concert with the band Kent in December, and me and Amanda were so happy that we started to write in French.

- my sister came to visit, and we had a great week together ☺️

- we celebrated Swedish Easter with Kate, Lucy, my German friend Elisa and her cousin. It was a lot of fun, and the food was delicious. (Not sure if the non-swedes agreed with all of it though.)

- on the Monday off after Easter, me and Cajsa had a bread and cheese picnic in front of the Sacre Cœur. The weather was amazing and the cheese was so good. Later that day we met Elina and went to the national history museum in Jardin des Plantes, and then we went back to our place and baked our own croissants and made a playlist for our road trip this summer.

- last Friday we were at Amanda's and her italians's apartment for the housewarming party. The apartment was so crowded with French and Italians (and us), and at midnight (when it became my birthday) they sang happy birthday to me in four different languages 😁

- I turned 20! It was celebrated with a picnic with all my lovely friends and during the evening, with a boat ride on the Seine. (My "host parents" had a big party to celebrate their 40th birthdays, and so I was there to take care of the kids and bring them home later.) In total, I had an amazing 20th birthday 😄

- Spring has arrived in Paris! The weather is mostly warm and sunny now, which allows me to wear my jean jacket again and sit in the window and have my breakfast (très parisien).

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I need to talk about one of the cons about living in this city. The crowd. The number of people that lives and moves around in this city. There are so many of them. Like, too many. A Swede with a Fjällräven-backpack is TOO BIG FOR THIS CITY. Whenever I try to squeeze myself into the bus or metro during rush hour I curse my Nordic Viking genes for making me too big for the French capital. I'm like a giant compared to les petites françaises. And to be a lover of backpacks on top of that... That's an equation that doesn't add up! I guess I should have gotten used to it by now, but it gets quite tiring to constantly run into people wherever I go (and I mean to literally run into people). I can't tell you how many times I've had to apologise for bumping someone with my backpack. The word "pardon" has become a reflex, I'll probably continue to apologise to everyone in French when I move back to Sweden.

And it's not just the number of people. It's the size of everything here. Everything is so small. Elevators doesn't fit more than three persons at the most, people live in chambres de bonnes that are less than 10 sqm etc. Everything is made for the previously mentioned petites françaises, and not for the grandes suédoises.

To sum it all up: there are too many people in this city, and I'm too big for it. End of rant.

  • Everyday life
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It's so little time left. Four months. That's nothing. It feels so ironic that now when I have finally come to love my life here and really feel at home, it's not much time left. I have moments when I have no longing whatsoever to move back to Sweden. Time is running by too fast.

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