Tuesday, July 14, 2015

It's Time to Reflect

     Although I am not always capable of putting how I feel into words, I am going to give it my best try. Amsterdam, Amsterdamn, the city of love, the city of liberal social ideas, a place where I felt like a child again (sorry, fragmenting sentences are the worst, I can hear my English 12 teacher in my ear already). I am extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to have traveled to such a place like Amsterdam. Bike Town's cultural richness and beautiful canals left me wanting more. After so many years of not riding bikes, I left with battle wounds and experience with the public, how to navigate the city, and how not to interact with angry locals who didn't like students/tourists on bikes. I was able to see the Anne Frank House, and on the same day, learn that the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of same-sex marriage equality! While we were gone, I was so honored to be an American, so proud to know that my home country was progressing so far in two weeks (even as I write, I have goosebumps symbolizing my happiness and gratitude).

     To learn about the suppression of religions, the enculturation of so many groups, the thriving and enlivenment of the young, student generation, rekindled my fire and love for policy and legislation. I used to feel ashamed of my two, very liberal choices of Political Science and International Studies majors; however, I am so proud and liberated to know that I'm in the right college and the right University. There's not a lot more than I can say, other than I would love to go back one day when I have the money and the time. I am extremely grateful that USI gave me this opportunity to go and explore more of the world, as well as the Student Ambassador Scholarship program.

Day 12: Home, here we come!

     After an eight hour flight, where I actually was able to sleep, we made it back to Detroit. Although there was a three hour layover, my allergies did not seize to give me a break. I was back in the states and so were my most hated allergies.

     My loving Little, Kennedy, picked me up from the Evansville airport, and to celebrate my return and much needed time with my two favorite people, Kennedy took me to Gardo's to see Mal and have a pizza.

     When I returned to my loving Evansville abode, I saw that my awesome roommate set out Benadryl for me so I could survive the night and sleep. She is the best, and yes, I slept amazingly.

Day 11: Our Last Day

     It's the last day, and to end our Amsterdam tour, Hein de Haan (a local architect and retired architecture professor at TU Delft) gave us a tour of the three man-made islands within Amsterdam. First we started in the Eastern Docklands, then continued a brief sighting of the housing developments in Zeeburgereiland and Steigereiland near IJBurg.

     Azartplein was an complicated area to wrap my mind around. Originally a squatter's area, Hein along with other architects, helped developed housing for multiple people within the building. A very community-oriented building, everyone is able to keep their bikes inside, have an area for recreation, and have a beautiful sight of the surround canals.

     Although I didn't get any pictures of the last to islands (my phone died, how irresponsible of me), they were a sight to see. Hein showed us the complex where he lived and worked, and showed us how beautiful community living could truly be. There they built in a Kinder-care type area, where the residents could take their children while they went to work, a community theatre which also included a guest room for any of the resident's guests (10 euros a night), and soon to be a community-ran café. It was somewhere I could live, flourish, and even retire. 

     Because it was our last night, Dr. Hanka and I decided it was time to finally get a crepe and watch the magic happen in the Red Light District. 

     Alongside the crepe stop, Marian, Elliot and I decided it was ALSO time to do a little exploring which involved a stop at a public playground. Yes, I played photographer.

Day 10: Independence Day in the States

HToday, everyone was free to do their own research and to explore the country. Some went to the Tour De France time trials, two traveled to Antwerp, once traveled to Cologne, and I became a bum. For Amsterdam, today was the record high of temperatures, and it definitely was. I decided that after a full nine days of jam-packed activities, I would use today as a day to relax, sleep, and just catch up on personal time. When Marian and Elliot returned from Antwerp, we proceeded to go out and celebrate our holiday humbly and also enjoy a waffle. Happy Fourth to those in the States!

Day 9

     It was so nice to just sleep in today. I'm tired of 6am wake up calls... Which we just take the phone off the hook anyways. Anyways, we were lucky enough to have a tour guided by Tessa Dikker, an urban sociologist and lecturer at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). She started the tour by showing us old Lutheran Church (owned by the University), and from there, we were quizzed on our knowledge of Amsterdam. Although we toured through Dam Square and the Red Light District, a large part of the tour was based around the Jewish Quarter within the city. The Jewish (Sophradic) people of Amsterdam were forcibly in the city due to the issues with their home countries (Portugal and Spain).

The entrance to the hidden Catholic church, the Parrot, also known as the shelter church.

     In the picture below, the Freedom Statue stands to commemorate those lives lost during World War II and actually in any war. On May 4th, at 8:00, there is a 2 minute silence within all of Amsterdam, not one word.

The day after May 4th, they celebrate their freedom.

     Also in Dam Square, the city hall was built between 1648-1655, now a palace (which Napoleon Bonaparte's brother changed into a palace) that was once inhabited by the king and queen. However, the queen did not like living amongst Amsterdam's people.

     Black Betty had a child and her name was Blue Betty. This lovely little café had such a beautiful assortment of baked goods, one of those being a beautiful piece of banana bread with a Nutella and peanut butter whipped frosting (not pictured). They also featured breads, all of which were gluten-free. Not only is this city progressive, but they are extremely aware of food allergens and health conscious. 

     Tessa took us to Schouwburg, the heart of the Jewish quarter, they rounded up all of the Jewish families within Amsterdam before they were shipped out to the World War II concentration camps. In 1962 it became a memorial and a place of remembrance for those lives lost. 

     At the end of the tour, Tessa guided us to the Dutch Resistance Museum. The note below was written in an area of the museum where anyone could leave messages of hope for those affected directly by World War II and Nazi Germany. My note reads, "People today still think that what happened to the Jewish did not happen. History DOES repeat itself."

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Day 8

     Yet again, another early morning in the Netherlands. Today, time was spent in the train and in Rotterdam. Paul Stouten, author of "Changing Contexts in Urban Regeneration", gave us a walking tour and also brought us into the Rotterdam Government building to have a lecture on Rotterdam's urbanization planning. After the lecture, we explored the peninsular in Rotterdam where revitalization is taking place.

     In Rotterdam, they collect the rain water and it collects in the fountain so the kids can play in it.

     On the 40th floor... 

     Once we got back to Central Station, Rachel, Marian and I went exploring for yarn and souvenirs! The Red Light District was enjoyable today. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Day 7

     Here in Amsterdam, they are experiencing warmer temperatures than they ever have. Heeding warnings of putting on sunscreen, drinking more water, and to take shade when necessary. It's an interesting cultural difference because in the United States the summer is known for scorching hot temperatures. So to me, I feel like I can handle the heat. Off to a bike tour with Peter today. 

     Our first stop took place on the roof of Amsterdam's public library. You don't have to be quiet in here, you can talk and even use your cellphone freely. I felt "on top of the world".

     Something I have also learned on this trip is that the Dutch, although very friendly, don't like to listen. For example, the other day we went to grab lunch and the kitchen opened at 12:00pm. The waitress was uncaring to if we were hungry, they "needed time" to get ready. Once I tried asking for the waitress' attention, she got very rude with me and said she was eating and to not interrupt her. I believe in capitalism in the server's perspective because we work for our wages in the United States and treat our customers with respect although we work hard for them. 

     As the bike tour continued, we took a stop at Het Schip Museum to explore the Amsterdam School architecture. Amsterdam School architecture is a style that was developed with influence to create housing for the workers coming into the neighborhood. In the pictures below, the difference of the lower working class and the higher working class are illustrated as well as the 30 different brick patterns within the buildings. 

(Lower working class dwelling)

(Higher working class dwelling)

The Tower