Life doesn’t even seem real right now…
I’m living in Barcelona and just casually spent last weekend in Amsterdam, without even missing a single class. 2014 was already on track to be one of the best years of my life, and studying abroad with CEA has only strengthened those rails.
Anyways, I figured instead of giving you all a long rant about how incredibly chill the Netherlands were, I think it’ll be more interesting to go through some of the things that were running through my mind during my trip and share some of the things I learned. Well, here we go.
1) “This city has figured it out.”
Standing in the corner of a busy Amsterdam intersection was like watching a carefully choreographed dance. Trams, bicycles, cars, and pedestrians all seemed to know their place. There also seemed to exist a sense of patience that is completely absent in most major cities, especially compared to back home in Miami. Even when tourists disturbed the flow by inevitably stumbling into the bike lane, everyone was quick to adjust.
| Unlike most European cities, Amsterdam's metro runs above
ground, making the city's intricate flow of various types of
transportation even more impressive.
2) “It’s just so classy.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like there is something so incredibly attractive as seeing someone finely dressed on a bicycle. Much like the metro in most European cities, locals commute via bicycle regardless of their career, age, or socioeconomics status. So I tried to follow the “when in Rome model,” put on some descent clothes and jump on a bike. My sweaty smell probably counteracted any positivity of my dress, but it really was the best way I could have explored the city.
|In Amsterdam, biking is literally a part of everyday life, regardless of age or socioeconomic status.|
Fun fact: There are actually more bicycles than residents in Amsterdam.
3) “Free cheese!”
I’m pretty sure I hit up every free cheese store across leidseplein. I recommend the goat truffle cheese. I’m still dreaming about it...
4) “Who would hide us?”
One of the most memorable parts of our trip to Amsterdam was definitely our visit to Anne Frank's house, where her family hid for nearly two years before being betrayed during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The experience was incredibly moving and the museum seemed to keep much of the secret annex authentic while still telling the Frank family's story. At the end of the tour, a short documentary left museum goers to think "who would hide us?"
5) “It’s crazy that these cars and bikes aren’t falling into the canal”
Wandering through Amsterdam’s maze of streets and canals, and especially with the lack of barricades across much of it, I found it fascinating that after four days, I didn’t see a single person or object fall in the canals. I was impressed. I guess no one really falls in. Then I figured I should search online to verify my four days of “scientific research,” and it turns out I might have been a little off. According to Dutch Amsterdam.com, on average 100 people and 35 cars a year fall into the canal, as well as about 14,000 bicycles.
|CEA students, Staci Lugo and Victoria Nixon, take a break from a long day of exploring the city to sit by one of Amsterdam's beautiful canals.|
Dillon Patel is the Fall 2014 CEA MOJO in Barcelona, Spain. He is currently a junior at Duke University.
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