This is Nikkie. Michael asked me to do a guest entry so here goes…
The physiotherapy course is so hectic that this is the first time in a year that we have been privileged enough to have been given a week off while all the other students are busy celebrating the arrival of an 18 week summer holiday. I grabbed the opportunity to whisk Jade, my best friend and housemate, off to Amsterdam for a wild night out to celebrate her 21st birthday. Before our adventure could commence, we had to endure painstaking revision and an exam which took place on the Wednesday morning (1st June) at 8.45am.
Jade and I were both very nervous for the practical exam as you never have enough time to think and appear a fool if you dont have the answers at the drop of a hat. The exam consists of a case scenario, 15 minutes thinking time and then joining the examiners to discuss all the relevant anatomy and clinical reasoning to arrive at an appropriate diagnosis. Next, you discuss a management plan and have to demonstrate 2 treatment techniques on a model. Finally, after what seems like forever, you document everything done with the patient, including treatment dosage, gained consent, safety tests, advice given and when you would next like to see them. Jade and I were given the same scenario of a patient with tension headaches so we came out of the exam intrigued as to what treatment we had each given. Luckily, we both appeared to administer the same treatment for similar reasons, so with that out of the way we left to get ready for our trip!
I drove, for the first time, up to Liverpool. We arrived, after a relatively stress free journey to the city but as we approached Michaels flat, things became slightly more traumatic. At this point it is fairly relevant to mention that Michael has lived in Liverpool for 5 weeks but still appears to walk around with his eyes closed, hence the reason he (and Graeme) will be blamed for getting us lost! We ended up travelling around a roundabout 5 times until they could meet us there and take us the right way!
So, we eventually arrived at the flat, piled our belongings up the 3 flights of stairs and headed out for some lunch in a typical English café. The boys left shortly to return to work and us girls took the opportunity for some light shopping before our lift to the airport. Jade and I are both fanatical about fashion and the idea of retro and vintage clothing delights us! As a result, spotting 4 charity shops to rummage through determined the activities of the following few hours. At around 5pm, the boys had finished work for the day and we hopped in the car, laden with plastic bags full of vintage 1940s purses, tops, scarves and the odd few bits including a wooden elephant names Widnes! So much for the light shopping trip!
Graeme and Michael dropped Jade and I off at Liverpools John Lennon airport and I managed to shop as soon as we got there, buying a fantastic golden yellow leather handbag. We boarded the plane at 7pm and by 11pm were sat in a bar in Amsterdam.
An exam at 8.45am in a British university, and barring in Amsterdam by 11pm – I love Europe!
Staying in a cheap hostel in the red light district ensured we were surrounded by lots of young people. We quickly re-applied some lip-gloss and changed our shoes to heels and headed out. Passing the local chippy, we were unable to resist the classic Dutch chips and mayo. I got back into the swing of the language and was soon chatting to the chip-shop man only having slight difficulty understanding the Amsterdam dialect, which is very different to that I am used to. Once our appetites had been satisfied, we followed the crowds past some very sexy and virtually naked women in doorways to a bar for a beer. Soon after our arrival we began chatting to the barman who, much to our disgust, told us we were not in a green café, although smoking in there was permitted. We rushed off to find somewhere selling pre-rolled joints, as neither of us were in any fit state to start rolling ourselves. On the recommendation of the guy behind the counter, whom I now realise we should never have trusted, we bought 4 joints for the equivalent of about £10. Back in the previous bar we lit up and began to chat to a bunch of Aussie men. It amazed me how many Australians there were in Amsterdam, most travelling Europe after uni. Mindless chit chat revealed that these particular guys were all living in London as teachers although one had flown in from Sydney that afternoon. They were a laugh and bought us a couple of drinks so we decided to stick with them for a while. By about 1am, we had broken off and un-surprisingly only two guys remained. We visited a few more bars, smoked and drunk a bit more while playing cards in a chilled bar. The lads knew where our hostel was, as they were in the same one, so we began our walk home. We were halfway there when Jade was cornered by one of the lads and had to apologise that he must have got the wrong idea from her. Realising that he was not going to get anywhere with her that night, he swiftly left. The other guy, however, was more persistent and we had to team up to get rid of him, which we eventually did by hiding in our dorm!
Although I had shared a dorm with mates on camping trips ( I was in the scouts) and on school trips, nothing quite prepared me for this. It was a dorm of 20 beds and great fun. We sat up a while chatting crap due to our stoned and drunken state when we over heard a couple arguing over a guy having been in a peep show instead of meeting up with his girl! Im sure this would have still amused me sober but we were both having serious difficulty in resisting laughter and continued to listen to the bickering trying to work out whether the guys story was genuine or he had in-fact been in a sex show as his lady was stating! By about 3am we got ready for bed and fell into light, interrupted sleep.
We awoke at 8am with the sun streaming into the room and the dorm already half empty. After showering and attempting to make ourselves look remotely human we wandered downstairs for a full English breakfast, and a mug of incredibly strong tea. Our persistent friend from the previous night pulled up a chair questioning us about where and when we were leaving Amsterdam. Making quick excuses and ensuring we were sufficiently dosed up with caffeine we walked in the direction of the main shopping street Kalver straat. I had been to Amsterdam previously with relatives living nearby so was slightly more orientated than the average tourist and we found Kalver straat fairly quickly. We shopped, had some lunch in the Vroom and Dressmann restaurant, a definite must for a cheap detoxifying meal, and shopped some more. After a few more trips to the cash-point and laden with bags, we returned to the red light district for some major vintage shopping. I got a pair of ankle height grey slouch boots which I had been on the hunt for ages. All in all, we spent over £200 of our student overdrafts on clothes and accessories, all very worthwhile! After all, you spend what money you actually have, and then the bank decides to give you more! No, I dont always have such a lax attitude to money but do find it very hard to resist a bargain!
By 5pm we were exhausted and grabbed our bags from the station lockers and returned to Schipol airport for a maccy Ds (Mcdonalds) and to catch our flight home. We landed back in Liverpool at 10pm and were greeted by the boys who drove us back to Michaels flat. Shattered from our adventure we went to bed and slept soundly.
The following morning, Michael strolled into work at 10am and Jade left to rush back to Manchester to grab fresh clothes for a night out with some old friends in Newcastle! I, on the other hand, pottered around the flat with my eyes half closed all day trying to recover from abusing my body so much.
The next few days have consisted of more pottering and trying to get Michaels hole of a flat slightly more liveable! I have cleaned, washed, tidied and sorted but this is the first and last time I will do, so he will have to become domesticated from now on! We did a very grown-up shop of cleaning products yesterday evening which Michael clearly needed some guidance on – he was shocked to discover that bathroom and kitchen cleaner were different! My work here is definitely challenging!
On Saturday night we visited Liverpools night life which I definitely felt was something else! I felt like I was in Ibiza, obviously without the gorgeous weather, it was very surreal. We sat in a square outside surrounded by bars and a very concentrated amount of gorgeous people. The women were all slim, verging on the border of too slim, had all been bronzed, either by a bottle or some hard work on a sun bed, and were made up with very expensive looking clothing. Graeme, Ben and Michael, un-surprisingly, were in awe of them all, [Editors Note: I was more in awe of my fantastic girlfriend of course!- Wigs], as was I, but my eye was placed more on enjoying the surrounding fashion statements. I must state though, the women were some of the best I have ever seen, obviously not including celebs, models etc, only with the downside of the Liverpudlian accent! The men were incredibly well groomed and also in expensive clothing. The music was brilliant, Michael said that it was much like the dance music back home. Being out with the lads I had to keep up with the pace of drinking which, with a reputation of a lightweight I did quite well, going drink for drink with them. Overall, Liverpool was a great night out, expensive but great.
Our trek home left much to be desired. We caught the night bus home after waiting for a taxi for over an hr. On the walk home from the bus stop we got separated losing Ben, our other scouser housemate who had come home for the summer, and fell asleep with him not having returned to the flat. We woke with a startle the next morning realising Ben was still not home. I dressed hurriedly, on a bad hangover, to jog around and try and find him. Michael eventually got him on his mobile at the same time as I came across him asleep in the back of his car! Safe, but still very very pissed he came up to the flat to sleep off the alcohol. I went for a 20minute run along the beach and came back when Michael and I decided to return to bed till 3pm. Another crazy but fantastic night out.
To think that a year ago, I was still in Newark Hall, had only known Michael 6 months, was a fresher and living a very dependant life shows how much things can change. Life is fantastic but it has been hard to get to this point; I considered dropping the physiotherapy course during the harder times, Michael moved 3 hrs away from Nottingham just when we finally got together, I moved house and Graemes changed university course. The summer is only a month away, I have one more outpatients placement to get through and then I will be back in Liverpool living and working here for 6 weeks. Third year will be here sooner than later and then Ill be a qualified physiotherapist and will have to become even slightly responsible! On second thoughts, Ill delay that as long as I can, go travelling, live a little before pinning myself to a 9-5 job. The end of university is so close, yet so far. Im only two thirds through it and things have changed so much since arriving in September as a fresher.
Change is good. Hard but good.