Thursday, July 23, 2009

Amsterdam, Bikers and the Holocaust

With a week left in the trip, there is no slowing down. It has been go-go-go for the past four weeks and it seems it will be that way until we get on the airplane next Wednesday. But before I get all sentimental, I should recap the past week.

Monday thru Thursday was as normal as it has been the entire trip. Five hours of classes Monday and Wednesday with field trips every Tuesday and Thursday. The school work has kind of crept up on me, seeing how I was up until 5:30 this morning working on presentations for both of my classes (but the good news is that they are done and only one more project to do!). But the highlight of my week — the Mecca for most college students — was our weekend trip to Amsterdam.

Everyone hears Amsterdam and automatically thinks of legal drugs, sex and debauchery. I am not going to lie, there was plenty of that to go around, and I kept a comfortable distance from the three. This does not mean that I didn’t have a great time, so don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of place to get into trouble in Amsterdam, but the city offers so much more. From the Ann Frank House to the Heineken Experience to the Dam Square, Amsterdam opens its arms to tourists of all shapes, sizes and fantasies. It is a beautiful city, dissected with canals and a haven for bikes. I thought the bikes/bikers were one of the coolest things about The Dam. There were thousands of bikes, chained together as if they were huddling to stay warm from the port breezes.

The funny thing about the bikers, however, was that they have no consideration for your bodily safety. One of my friends actually got run over by a biker, and I was cursed out for not moving out of the way quickly enough (they speak English very well in Holland). We went in two factions, a group of seven, who went one night before I did, and me and one of my other friends that I made on the trip. The other group booked their hostel right after the orientation in May at a place called Amsterdam Cribs. This was no hostel; it was an apartment that a local guy rented as a hostel to the younger crowd. The hostel that I was in was I bit less luxurious (to say the least). But both nights I spent the night on their couch.

So I’m not going to lie, the Red Light District was a place that I wanted to check out. To be brief, it lives up to all the hype; anything you want, you can get.

Tomorrow we go to Dachau, a concentration camp outside of Munich for our last field trip. I have been in a Holocaust class for the past few weeks, and it has opened my eyes to a history that I was not versed in. This trip, for me at least, will provide the slightest glimpse into what it must have been like to spend a moment in the camp. I believe only those who were there will ever understand what it was like, even if all the books on the topic were at one’s disposal. This should be a catalyst for an interesting blog afterwards.

* Lee is participating in a study abroad program in Bonn, Germany, organized by Valdosta State University's European Council and International Programs.

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