Adventures in Amsterdam

This weekend marks one month since I got here…yeah I’m pretty much a full blown Londoner now, no big deal. JK, I’m still a total tourist, but to be fair, London has so much to offer and is SO big that I think it would take about a lifetime and a half to really know all the ins and outs of the city. For all of the parts I’ve seen however, I’m in love. I am so happy and so grateful that I have gotten such a once in a life time opportunity.

LITTLE LONDON LOVES of the week

-Tube Passengers | Traveling on the tube has its ups and downs. For one thing, if I get on the Central Line at 8:30 AM (peak of rush hour), I fully expect to be standing up with my arm over some old guy’s shoulder, reaching for a handle while my bulky backpack is pressed up against some poor lady’s stomach behind me. Over the course of the weeks I’ve been here, I’ve realized how ridiculously clumsy I am and one jolt of the train will send me flying forward (my apologies for all of the toes I’ve crushed). On Friday, I was on perhaps the most packed car I’ve ever been on. Every seat, pole, and handle space was occupied by some commuter and I was in the middle of about 15 people, all of whom were in professional dress. More than once, I nearly fell over, slamming into the crowd. This French girl, who was probably about 25, grabbed my arm and pulled me up. I mouthed a “thank you so much” to her and she held my arm until we got off. In the midst of the world being filled with a lot of hate, it’s nice to know that good people exist, and that even in a foreign country, there will be people who won’t let you fall on your face.

-Coffee | Yes, I’m still getting Starbucks (I know, I know). But I’ve become a regular at the one near my campus and this week, they called me by name! This one barista, Julio, even showed me how I could save a pound on the coffee I usually order, which is much appreciated! It’s a great way to start the school day.

-Professors| They genuinely make me so excited to go to class. My Social Theory teacher is great. He’s very into interactive learning and even though the subject is somewhat difficult for me to grasp, his teaching style allows us to explain the concepts ourselves and forces us to ask questions that we might have otherwise been too scared to ask. He even gave me and some of the other study abroad kids some London restaurant suggestions. One of my Monarchy teachers recently took us on a field trip to Harrow School, which is a very hoity toity boarding school for high school aged boys. You may remember the “wingardium leviosa” scene from the first Harry Potter movie, which was filmed on the campus (OMG).

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Poor quality pic, but it’s the same room!!! (see below)

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It was also the school of Winston Churchill and Lord Byron. This teacher (who is a very cute English man who dresses in plaid blazers and vests) was so enthusiastic as he showed us around and even treated my classmates and I to afternoon tea.

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Where we went for afternoon tea with our professor.

AMSTERDAM

…oh yeah haha…I also went to Amsterdam!!! Here’s what I did when I was there:

Heineken Experience– Very cool tour of the first Heineken brewery. Cassie and I got to see how they used to brew the beer there (they haven’t actually made the beer there since the 80’s) and even got to neck a few ourselves ;). Bonus: the tour guides were VERY cute.

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IAmsterdam Sign– Pictures. Pictures. More Pictures. Did I mention pictures?

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Kimpton DeWitt Hotel- Our hotel was hellaaaa nice. Thank you Delaney for the hookup!

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MAKE IT RAIN- It rained a ton and we had to buy some cheapo umbrellas from a drug store- makin’ memories!!!

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WE LOVE RAIN!!!

-Anne Frank House– Cassie, Delaney, and I waited in line outside of the museum for probably about three hours. It was very cold, very rainy, and very, very worth it. Going through that house was one of the most profound experiences I’ve ever had. I remember reading the story in about eighth grade (I would have been about Anne’s age at the time). It’s referenced in movies like The Fault in Our Stars and Freedom Writers and her family has come up nearly every time I have learned about Nazi concentration camps.  For so long, I thought that I could somewhat imagine what the Franks went through based on what I’ve read and seen in movies. Walking through those rooms, where that thirteen year old little girl and her family were fearing for their lives, moved me to tears. I will never understand what they went through. I will never understand what it’s like to have to be so quiet in your own home that you can’t even turn on a faucet during the day. I will never understand the fear she felt when they were discovered.  I will never understand how Anne felt when she was starving in a concentration camp. I will never understand how someone so young felt that she had nothing to live for because she believed that her whole family was dead. I’ll never understand the anguish that Otto must have felt when the war ended and he returned to find that his whole family, his whole life, was gone. I will never fully understand the cruelty or the horror of the Holocaust.

After the tour, I went into the little museum café and saw that the line to get into the museum was still wrapped around the block. One little diary, written by one little girl has moved so many people. Given the last few months and the influx of bleak international news, I hope that the world holds tight to stories like Anne’s and that we can find a way to overcome hate and love each other the way God intended.

 

“I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

-Anne Frank

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