I AMsterdam

18 06 2012

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17 juin 2012

Currently I am sitting on the train looking out at the small villages in Belgium. The weather is perfect with no winds and the sun shinning. I reminisce about the weekend and think about where I can even begin. This weekend had a mix of emotions from excited, worried, happy, scared, tired, adventurous, and thankful. With the world wind of emotions it surprisingly was an amazing time filled with learning experiences.

Friday
The train doors close, the train takes off, and in eight hours I will be in Amsterdam!! Of the 24 people in my study abroad program, 21 of us were all on the train to adventure Amsterdam. We came across another group of students who study at Georgia Tech’s school in Metz, France. They are all study abroad students like us, but what is even more unique is that they are all originally from spanish speaking countries in South America. Quickly, we all became friends and excited for the weekend.

During the long train ride Miranda and I went back a few train carts to talk with the Georgia Tech students. We talked about things to do for the weekend, our time in Metz, and the notorious pick pocketers. As they tell us how to carefully watch our bags, because of people getting them stolen on the train, a pick pocketer was on board!

The train was stopped, people quickly exiting and entering the train. I stood in the middle of the train aisle as the Georgia Tech students warned me about pick pocketers, as I move out of the way to let a passenger through he quickly grabbed one of the student’s bags from the rack above and ran off the train! I couldn’t believe my eyes on how fast such an incident happened! I stood there in shock not knowing what I could even do to help. Many of the guys ran off after the thief yelling and screaming for him to let go of their bag and finally pulled it out of his hands! It was the most bizarre thing I have ever seen. These thieves are professionals who usually know how to get away with such crimes, but this time at least he was out numbered.

(Lesson to learn: NEVER place your bag in the overhead bins and make sure you are traveling with people who can chase down your bags!)

I return to my seat to make sure my friends know about the pick pocketers and to make sure none of my bags ran off. I decide to rest my eyes a while before we arrive. I’m almost asleep when I her ” Excuse me, take your feet off my chair! I don’t know why I always have to tell you to take them off!” What? First, I have never seen this lady before. Second, never has anyone told me to take my feet off the seat. Finally, is she just stereotyping me?! It’s late at night, there aren’t very many people on the train, and it’s one thing to nicely tell me not put my feet on the seat, but to yell and sterotype me! For some reason the rudeness of that lady really pushed my buttons.

(Lesson to Learn: NEVER put your feet up on furniture in Europe!)

Finally arrived in AMSTERDAM!!

The sun comes up, we get ready for the day, check out of our hostel and went out to venture the beautiful city. This city swarmed with bicyclists everywhere! Everyone is biking from old and young people, couples, parents with children, and they were even texting while biking! I’m amazed by the athleticism of this city and how they use transportation. It is so cool to see so many people actively moving about the city along the beautiful canals. Amsterdam is a mini version of Venice and has its own character. (Amsterdam picture above).

The Anne Frank Exhibit is our first stop. Growing up, I remember reading the book in junior high and doing a research project on the Holacaust. It was a horrible time in history and impossible to relate to these innocent Jewish people who suffered . Before going through the exhibit, I wasn’t expecting to be so emotionally touched by being in the home where Anne hid for two years from the Nazi’s. This exhibit opened my eyes to history and I hope that all can learn from the past. After leaving such an emotional exhibit I thought about how thankful I m to be so lucky to have the opportunities in life I have had. (Pictures from Anne Frank below. The bookcase is where their hidden passage way was).

Currently I am sitting at a restaurant looking out at the vast amount of people in the district square. There is a buzz of excitement in the air, people eating, drinking, shopping, and street performing. I observe all the diversity that surrounds me. Amsterdam isn’t just filled with people who live there, but many tourists from all different countries and cultures. I’m intrigued by the many different languages I hear and also very jealous by all the people who speak many languages. I regret not sticking with french when I was in high school. As much as I dreaded studying, I was very naive for not listening to my teachers and sticking with a foreign language. It’s such a valuable skill to have and I believe most Americans don’t see and accept the importance of a diverse world.

After a delicious lunch we went to check into the hotel my two friends got, instead of returning to our hostel from the night before. Well, here came our dilemma. In Europe, they are extremely strict on the hotel policy of the number of people in the rooms. That meant there was absolutely no way they were going to let the other three of us even up the elevator. Well great! We checked out of our hostel early in the morning and everything else in the city is booked; we have already spent enough money on lounging as it is. First thought was panic. We have no where to sleep and we can’t get a train back to Metz until tomorrow afternoon. I take a deep breath, try my best to stay calm, and make a game plan. I head back to the hostel we checked out of and explained my situation. We some how managed to luck out and there were exactly three beds left for the night! We were extremely lucky to still have someone up there watching after us.

After settling back into our original hostel we were off to The Heineken Experience! This brewery is massive and filled with entertainment. Each part of the exhibit had interactive activities and there was even a 4-D video show. It was cool to watch the production of bottles being made, packaged, and shipped. Definitely something to visit if you’re ever in Amsterdam! (Pictures from the Heineken below. One of them is where we helped brew the beer).

After an eventful weekend I can say it has been an experience that has taught and introduced me to many things. It has taught me to be a little more cautious when I travel, but also to be welcoming to quick changes. I have always been a person to make the game plan and follow through, but when there are many moving parts involved that plan can quickly change. The motto my friends and I are going by on our European Adventure is ‘C’est La Vie’ meaning “it happens, it is life.”

Now that I’m back at my dorm I need to rest up for the last three days of class. They will be intensely packed with management courses, visiting Luxembourg tomorrow evening, studying, and finally packing up to leave Metz for good. This weekend’s destination is Nice, France and Monaco.

Chao!

Kyle Ashley

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