Block 2 of classes has started and I welcome the change in my schedule. My mondays are a bit busier (Dutch Culture and Society in the city center and then World Ecosystems in Science Park shortly after), but other than that I have one class during the evening each day of the week and usually one day a week off. Unfortunately I have practicals on friday afternoons, but I’ll take it. My first week went well and I finished classes in time for Margaret’s arrival on Thursday evening. Then I had friday and the weekend off to enjoy the city with her.
Dutch Culture and Society is a simple course that so far has been interesting. We do weekly blog entries (so many blogs!) about Dutch news, entertainment reviews, important Dutch people, whatever we want to research independently. We also have weekly group projects pertaining to a topic we cover in class; our first project was creating a brochure for a specific region, my group got Utrecht (which I know about all too well from being stranded there!) but we did well. I like little activities like that, they are very different from my other two classes! World Food Systems is a class that focuses on political/social/economic aspects of food around the world, and like my food production class, we have different lecturers every week that specialize in a certain aspect of society and relate this to food production and consumption. Super interesting. Last class we talked about the American influence of “convenience” on the Dutch, and how the American ideal of food in the 1950s and 1960s transformed how Europeans started thinking about food. I’m curious what we’ll discuss tonight! World Eco Systems is a science-based course but without labs, which is nice. We study different landscapes and types of soils and how they affect plants and animals. I have an exam in this class, and a project that I’ll be doing with my friend from Louisiana where we have to pick a country or state and talk about what type of soil and environment it has. We are doing either Texas or Louisiana, or both. I don’t remember studying the geography of Texas, so I’m actually really excited to learn about my own state. I find myself relating my studies in the US to Europe and my studies in Europe to the US, but that’s what I’m supposed to be doing!
I was so happy when Margaret arrived in Amsterdam. I went to meet her at Central Station and we couldn’t find each other for over 20 minutes but we survived (there was no wifi or way to communicate). We spent the night catching up and resting before our big day on Friday where we went to the Van Gogh museum (finally!), got more poffertjes, and looked for Halloween costumes around the nine streets. We took the tram but spent a TON of time just walking around the city, which was exhausting but the best way to see it. We got to Van Gogh only to see the longest line ever, so I asked a worker if we got to be in a different line because we had museum cards (Marge borrowed my roommates) and we were immediately let in! VIP access is great. I was impressed with the amount of art in the museum and enjoyed seeing the special exhibit (around until January) that had Van Gogh’s tools, palettes, and famous Sunflowers painting. We also saw the newest Van Gogh painting discovered earlier this year, how exciting! Fun fact, I painted a Van Gogh style painting in middle school and it was chosen to be hung in the main office of my school, so I felt a special connection to the museum. I also want my painting back now… Hm…
We rested up for a Halloween party on friday night where Margaret got to meet the majority of my friends. She somehow lucked out on spending very little money this weekend since the museums were free, and this night out was free (no club cover as it was at an apartment). She went as a flapper and I went as Rosie the Riveter, and we thought it was funny that of course we would both go as symbolic American females (probably due to Hockaday’s subconscious influence), but the costumes were easy.
Saturday was spent exploring more, of course, the best thing to do in Amsterdam. We had planned to go to Anne Frank but the line was incredibly long midday (I should have known) and our museum cards don’t let us cut that line unfortunately. Instead we went to see the Old Church and the hidden Catholic church again, saw the red light district, and went for the absolute best burgers at The Butcher on Albert Cuypstraat. Neither of us had eaten good burgers since being abroad and these ones were particularly incredible. I had a burger with bleu cheese and truffle oil (and died shortly after eating it) and Margaret had the “Big Daddy” which is a 250g burger with bacon. Good girl. Walking around with Marge led me to discover SO many shops and sights that I don’t notice when I’m biking around, especially around the nine streets (particularly Fair+Fair and The New Label Project). Unfortunately I can’t afford all new furniture or an entire new jewelry collection from the stores here, but I am collecting so much inspiration for my future home.
Margaret, as a neuroscience major, had a ton of work this weekend so we allotted a few hours for homework. After working we checked out a bar I had heard a lot about, Hannekes Boom (translation is Hannekes Tree), which is a little bungalow bar on the water. It is incredibly hip and owned by the same people who own my favorite bar, Bloemenbar, and we got plenty of good people watching in. Margaret has Dutch in her, and she looks very Dutch, so she was so amazed to be in a place (and city) where she actually looked so much like the people.
We made it to Anne Frank on Sunday at 8:30am (it opens at nine, and luckily we got there when we did). Within 15 minutes after we got there the line had grown by easily over 150 people. We got into the museum by 9:20. I highly suggest this museum to visitors, especially girls that kept diaries or journals. So many quotes from her diaries reminded me of things i would have written as a young teenager and it really put her experience in a different perspective for me. I was surprised with the size of their hiding place; two stories of the building were dedicated to housing 8 people. Still, the story is incredible. After the museum we went to the Westerpark market (that I’ve already blogged about) and ate good food and saw plenty of Dutch dogs and babies. By the time we got back and rested, it was time for Margaret to head to the airport. I know she had a great time and I was so happy to see her. The days are getting shorter, the weather is definitely getting colder, and that little bit of love really helped. The sun even came out for a little bit on Sunday (then it hailed, while it was sunny…) but at least it was a little brighter.
Until next time. I’ll end on this Van Gogh quote: “I know how much I still have to learn myself, but all the same I’m beginning to see light ahead of me and one way or another, by practicing on my own, by learning anything I can use from others, I’ll continue to paint with passion.” Replace “paint” with “live” and you have a description of my time here.