Today we were supposed to go to the Klamme Handjes festival, but it was cancelled due to weather. Skyler was sick all day anyway, so it may not have been the best time. We were supposed to go with Jesse and his date, but instead we meet at Cafe Brecht and walked down to De Pijp for a double date. Stopping at a nice Italian place, we immediately felt a bit underdressed, but the staff was exceptionally nice and the place smelled great.
After running up a large tab on great food and wine, we paid and left after our complimentary strawberry liquor shots. We then walked up to Rembrandtplein to a not-so-touristy café and had more wine and some bitterballen. Jesse’s date had to leave and get up early, so we went back up to Hill Street for a couple beers before ending our night. It was a very pleasant evening, very mellow and relaxed.
Things I learned (mainly in conversation during the date):
- There is a passive racism among the Dutch people. Even if you become a Dutch citizen, if you aren’t blonde and tall, you aren’t really Dutch. Jesse’s date is half Dutch, and was born here and raised here, but even she isn’t a ‘Dutch person’ because she has dark curly hair and a slightly darker complexion.
- Even with the subtle racism, you can still be accepted here… With a lot of effort. Learn Dutch and assimilate, and work hard to gain a group of Dutch friends.
- Assimilation isn’t the end all. There is a huge expat community and they’re very accepting. Who cares if you aren’t considered Dutch or don’t have a huge Dutch circle of friends?
- Dutch people strictly separate with and personal life. In the US, it’s common to have overlapping groups of friends – you might go out for drinks with work colleagues. Here you don’t apparently. They are friendly and polite at work, but it’s rare to go out with fellow workers.
- Finding work in the US as an immigrant is more difficult than finding work here as a US immigrant. Jesse’s brother tried for 10 years to get a job in America before actually landing one. And he’s a skilled college graduate. The laws there are more strict than here regarding that type of thing.
It wasn’t just a lovely double date, it was a very culturally enriching experience, and I look forward to doing it again.
July 21st Tuesday
Got up early and went to the Anne Frank house. My group went into the museum at 8:50 am I’m glad that you got us the tickets in advance, that was a huge line waiting to get in. It was a very interesting experience walking through the Annex where they lived for years. I tried to put myself in their shoes while we walked around. It would be so hard to be quiet for that long, it must have been miserable. It made me really feel more sympathy for the Jews. I have been interested in learning more about the holocaust I’m ready to visit a concentration camp next. Walked around with Hunter, Trinity and Haley. Went over to Flevo Park rode around learned that they have a camping area and a very nice swimming pool that looks about like the pools in America. There was also a camp site directly across the river that was super nice. After that I crossed a couple bridges and got into N. Amsterdam it was a very calm area. It reminded me of the suburbs, there were very few stores just mainly parks and residences. I spent a few hours touring that are then found this Eye studio building at Oever park and rode a ferry across the river from there. At 6:15 everyone met at the red light district to go for a tour with Maritza. She told us about the Red Light district and let us know some of the struggles that are occurring for the Sex workers. There are 290 windows and some of them are going to be shut down before long. Rode bikes around for a while then headed back to Vondel Park to hang out by the lake until dark. Came back got cleaned up and got to bed around 1 ish.
I can’t believe this is our last day here. It seems like yesterday we were all sitting in the airport with our headphones in, not talking to one another aside from our close friends. And now, were all laughing and hanging out together on a daily basis. I already can’t wait for the reunion. Anyways, for our last day I had a copious amount of souvenir shopping to do so after visiting the Rembrandt House and our last lunch together as a group I headed off to the flea market for some last minute shopping. The night wasn’t too wild. We went to Dollar Fifty one last time and had some Heinekens with Nachos or fish and chips and then we all went back to the apartments to pack. We all met up for one last smoke session before we went to bed.
I never realized how big of an issue bathrooms would be to find in Europe. It was like a game of hide and seek trying to find them which was especially difficult while I was at a bar. I think, from a professional standpoint, my experiences in Europe will greatly benefit me. I really liked the flower auction because I am very interested in the stock market, so watching it actually happen in front of me was very cool. Visiting the EC will also have a profound effect on me professionally. Because of my interest in the stock market, I need to be knowledgeable about the global economy and global happenings. Visiting the EC gave me a glimpse into the political background of the EU which was previously unknown to me. From a personal level, I have gained a huge group of new friends and as I stated before, I cannot wait to see everyone again at the reunion. This trip was everything I had expected, and more. I really did not want to leave.
July 21, 2015
This morning was my favorite part of the trip so far. We started off early with a trip to the Anne Frank House. I have read this diary many times throughout my life and I watched the movie over and over again. The Holocaust is a very real part of history and I feel like learning about it only helps to prevent it from ever happening again. It was very emotional going through the house and seeing where Anne had written such a moving piece. The museum itself was very informational and had great artifacts displayed. I couldn’t believe that these very tiny rooms once hid Anne and 7 others. Seeing Anne’s art on the wall was the most touching to me. This girl was real, she lived just like we all do, yet was killed because she was Jewish. It makes me sick.
Later in the afternoon we went to the Prostitution Information Center for a tour and lecture. I had heard of Marissa Majoor before many times from documentaries, and to have her actually talk to us about the sex trade was very informational. I learned a lot about the Red Light District and how it functions. I think every country should take the Dutch system and implement it. The RLD is very safe and there are a lot of regulations for the women. If sex and prostitution are going to happen, which they are, we as a society should regulate it and help to keep it clean and organized.
Today the class visited the Heroin clinic operated by the GGD. Learning how Amsterdam treats heroin addiction was very fascinating. Unlike the U.S. that criminalizes the addiction, the GGD treats it as a medical problem. The clinic provides both methadone and heroin treatment for addicts and assists them in leading a normal productive life in society. Patients receive assistance and counseling finding jobs and housing. Law enforcement also works closely with the GGD to admit heroin addicts into treatment. The presentation also highlighted a key difference where doctors in Amsterdam rarely prescribe medicinal opiates such as oxycodone, and if so only for very short periods of time while under hospital care.
Today we visited FloraHolland where over 40% of the world’s flowers are auctioned and transported around the World. It was an amazing site to see the efficiency of the operation which spans over 200 soccer fields. An estimated 9 million Euros exchange hands daily at the auction where buyers set the prices of flowers.
We also toured the Hemp / Marijuana museum too which was very informative. I was unaware hemp had so many uses in numerous goods. I also enjoyed learning the vast history marijuana has in so many different cultures.
I spent the weekend in London taking in all of the magnificent sites as time would permit. Without much research I was overwhelmed by the size of the city and complexity of the tube system. I had an opportunity to see Piccadilly Circus, Camden Market, Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, London Eye, London Shard, London Tower, and numerous other parks and monuments. London was a fantastic trip and I wish I had more time.
Here is a link to Steven Dossey’s blog.
Saturday, July 25th, 2015
Nothing I write down here can do this day justice. The main reason I decided that I wanted to come on this trip was to attend Tomorrowland. In fact, I purchased my Tomorrowland ticket before paying the initial deposit for Amsterdam. It did not disappoint. Today was hands down, the greatest day and night of my life. It seemed like I blinked and it was over. Our day started at 8:00 in the morning and after showering and making a few mixed drinks, we headed downstairs for breakfast. We decided that carb loading was our best bet and ate a copious amount of bread and water. Following breakfast, we headed back up to the room to wait for our cab and get everything ready to go. We were some of the first people at the main entrance of Tomorrowland, as we arrived at 10:30, an hour and a half before the gates opened. It was 50-55 degrees out, windy, and raining; a bad start to the day even if you’re prepared and much worse when we had nothing on but tank tops and swimsuits. After being the first one inside the gate, our day began and we sprinted for the official store to find some ponchos and shirts for warmth. After we got warm, dry, and a few more drinks in us, the day started to take a great turn. We made our way to the main stage with Martin Solveig performing. Around noon, the crowd started to spill in as the weather cleared up. Graham and I made our way over to the “Super You and Me” stage to see The Chainsmokers who I’ve wanted to see live for some time. This stage was like an arena. There were covered decks on three sides of a pit (which we were in) and the stage surrounding the fourth side. The music blared and just before their big song came on, the sun peeked out and the whole crowd roared. We left with our ears ringing headed back towards the main stage. The rest of our day and night was filled at the main stage watching all kinds of huge EDM artists. As the night wore on, the hill surrounding the main stage pit was covered in people. I have never seen so many people in one place in my life. There were people from every nation imaginable. I took pictures with people from Brazil, Malta, France, Spain, America, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, and Colombia. As Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike finished their set at 3:30 in the morning, the final fireworks cracked above the stage. After what seemed like a minute, I marked another check next to my bucket list.
After a long night out on the town in Amsterdam, I woke up and we had our 3rd day of class. In class we talked more about the business side of prostitution and then talked about the coffee shops. After class Brad, Drew and I had to depart immediately for Belgium for the weekend. We arrived in Mechelen at around 5:00 and weren’t sure how to get to our hotel. I asked a couple people around the station how to get to the holiday inn but none of them spoke very good English, so we just started walking around. We luckily just walked up on the holiday inn after about 15 minutes. We checked in and then went to eat dinner and walk around. We saw some really pretty buildings and a church with a huge tower. We went to bed pretty early to rest up for tomorrowland.
Simply put Saturday was one of the best days of my life. We woke up around 8:30, got breakfast and caught a cab at 10. The cab took us to a bus and the bus got us to the main gate where we had to wait out in the rain for over an hour before the event opened. We were all wearing tank tops and shorts and were absolutely freezing. I was mad because I told drew we should wear more clothes but he insisted otherwise. Once we got in it started raining even harder as we franticly searched the grounds for ponchos and somewhere to buy clothes. Once we found a store and I was able to buy a towel and a shirt the day started getting exponentially better. The rest of the day flew by as we went from stage to stage and met so many different people. Once it got darker the main stage had more people in one place like that than I’ve ever seen before. It was 100% worth the trip.
Sunday there really isn’t much to talk about. We were all sad that tomorrowland was over and at the same time exhausted. Our train got back to Amsterdam at around 6 pm and the rest of the night I rested.