On Wednesday, 18.05.2016, we got our first official look at where we will be studying the next 4 weeks, Maastricht University itself. We were all introduced to the director of the Center for European Studies (CES) and he explained some background information of the Netherlands, as well as the rules and expectations. One quote we all have been fascinated with in our first week in Europe is, “For Americans 100 years is old for Europeans 100 miles is far”. The director informed us that Europeans never travel hour and a half in one day and back, if it were him he would stay over wherever he was traveling to. He also informed us they’re two gym options: the MAC gym (not associated with the Mid Atlantic Conference 😉 ) or the university gym-both are pretty expensive for just a month. I ran to the MAC and the guy told me the only option I have it 70 euros for two months. We all introduced ourselves to the Xavier students as well. Then we had breakfast with pastries and coffee for free (which was very
nice), more presentations about our courses and then free lunch in the cafeteria. The meal consisted of meatballs, mashed potatoes and chicken (kind of looked like dog food). The food was not very good, but it was free so I can’t complain! Then, we split up into two groups and had a practical tour of the city. The next day we started our Intercultural Communication class with our Professor from Belgium, Sophie Limbos. We all have a combined class with Xavier students in the morning 10:00-12:00, lunch until 12:45, then we are divided into two classes: one is from 12:45-14:45 and the other is from 15:00-18:00. The objective of this course is to understand differences in communication processes among cultures, become self-aware of our own culture and others and know the dynamics between interactions among the two. So far class has been very intriguing and I am excited to learn what the course has to offer! She also told us its not uncommon for kids to know 3+ languages, and Belgium is 800 euro for college regardless of major! The rest of the evening we booked flights and more travel itinerary for the next couple weekends.
Thursday, we had Professor Delavan’s class for the first time. This class is 9:00-12:00 and 13:00-16:00 and just has LVC students in it. It’s a great opportunity for the 10 of us
and Professor Delavan to get to know each other. This course is focused on a complete overview of Europe’s business landscape, and examining the regions diverse economies and government policies. After class, Devon, Nick, Blake, Evan, and I pretty much sprinted to the train station to catch a bus at 16:30. The rest of the group (Gianna, Aaron, Jillian, and Brandon) were going to Amsterdam to stay overnight and then fly to London in the morning! Our group embarked on a journey to Brussels, Belgium for the weekend. Upon arrival we went right to our first hostel experience. It was pretty nice I thought; we had a window that led to a rooftop that was fun to sit outside of. However we didn’t stay long, we put our belongings in a locker, locked it and left to explore the city.
Here’s a few things to know about Brussels:
- Brussels is not only the capital of Belgium, but also the seat of the European Union, and is consequently known as the ‘capital of Europe’.
- Tax free shopping
- Has one of Europe’s most beautiful squares, La Grande-Place. (I didn’t have as good of a picture so here’s one from google to get an idea of how incredible it truly is).
- Actors Audrey Hepburn and Jean-Claude Van Damme were both born in Brussels
- Home of the famous statue of Manneken-Pis
- No set language; people speak French, Dutch, and German.
We traveled to a new country in two hours and I can’t even drive to the beach in 2 hours when I’m home, let alone get out of Pennsylvania . That is why Europe is more diverse: you hit more countries than the US can, which is why Devon and I were able to travel from Germany to Belgium to the Netherlands all in one day (I’ll explain a little later). A great visual example is that Texas covers a majority of Europe, showing that the US is quite larger than Europe.
Upon arrival we immediately realized that the security in Brussels is heightened due do the recent terrorist attacks. We saw multiple armed guards walking around and standing at major buildings. I think we navigated city pretty well, and were expecting more language barrier, but since Devon took German and I had Spanish at LVC, we were impressively picking up a lot. I got to talk to some native French people and I was surprised by how much I remember from 8th and 9th grade. We were noticing a lot of differences between Belgium and the Netherlands just from the few hours we spent in Brussels.
We saw Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula which was absolutely beautiful, and monument Aux Heros De La Guerre. Then found a place to get a classic Belgium waffle for dinner, which was everything I expected a Belgium waffle to be. Next stop was Delirium Cafe. It’s a famous bar known for its long beer list, standing at 2,004 different brands and recorded in the The Guinness Book of Records. It offers beers from over 60 countries, including various Belgian beers. The social aspect of drinking is quite different here, and people drink openly in the street because its legal. Besides seeing a Belgium bar, we noticed other cultural differences here; people smoke frequently, drive wildly, and travel by metro prominently.
After a busy evening of exploring the city and purchasing Belgium chocolate for souvenirs we headed back to the hostel outside the city. The locks Evan and Blake had on their stuff got stolen, but fortunately nothing was stolen! Nick talked to the guy, Victor, at the front desk about it and he was very nice and friendly but couldn’t do much about it. Although nothing physically was stolen, our sense of security was taken. Blake, Nick, and Evan were leaving for a flight at 4am to Budapest and Devon and I were planning on staying in the hostel until returning to Maastricht Sunday. After realizing the locks were taken Devon and I quickly changed our minds and booked a bus to Dusseldorf Germany instead so we wouldn’t stay in the hostel alone.
Early Friday morning Devon and I talked to the lady at the front desk about getting a refund for our next two nights we booked because we didn’t feel secure in the hostel. She was not very understanding and only gave us Saturday night’s stay back. Cutting our losses, we headed to the train station to catch our bus and explore Germany.
On the 3 hour bus ride we met a lady from California who lives in Brussels now and loved Devon’s back pack . Typically if I meet someone from the states I ask them if they know were Hershey is and 7/10 people have said yes “its a chocolate place”. They usually know where Philly is too, but when I ask if they know Knoebels, they rarely do.
After wandering around the city we realized dogs are allowed in stores, shopping in Europe is cheaper than America (at least where we went), and Diversity in Düsseldorf is greater than in Maastricht and is somewhat comparable to Philadelphia. Everyone was very helpful and friendly although the people we talked to might not have known English well,they didn’t get frustrated with our questions (especially ordering out to eat).
We then traveled to the Goethe-Museum, which is a grand 18th-century house with a collection of artifacts relating to Goethe’s life & work. While there we met an older guy and he gave us his daughters disco card to go to and said if we ever need anything while we’re in Germany to let him know. He was from California originally, and moved to Germany with his girlfriend, and has 4 kids. He asked us if we were in Germany for
Japan Day on Saturday. He informed us that it is a German-Japanese festival celebrated every year
in May or June in Düsseldorf. Unfortunately we were planning on going back to Brussels to catch a cheaper bus to go home to Maastricht so we couldn’t go, but it was neat to see everyone dress up in preparation for the festival. While continuing our exploration of the city we noticed people walk really close to you and we are already paranoid so it’s hard to be comfortable with that, We still get weird stares so apparently we don’t look European yet.. Although we did get asked for directions from a lady, but another guy we talked to said he spotted us as Americans a mile away haha.
Exhausted from traveling we checked into a hotel (since the last hostel was still
fresh in our mind). One interesting thing was that I had to use my passport for booking the hotel. The following morning we had free breakfast in the hotel and had to get Spaghettieis before we left for Belgium. Spaghettieis is a German ice cream dish made to look like a plate of spaghetti. Vanilla ice cream is extruded through a modified Spätzle press to make it look like spaghetti.
Our second visit to Brussels was a better experience than when we left. We toured more of the city and got to experience the Zinneke Parade! Its held every two years so we felt honored to get to experience it. Basically (from our pamphlet we were given) it’s a contemporary, urban, creative, artistic parade. Different inhabitants, associations, school, and artists all come from different
neighborhoods of Brussels and beyond to present themselves as an expression and experiment in making a city through diversity. It was quite a site to see! After shopping in some local stores (where I of course purchased a soccer ball) we listened to the Jazz festival that was going on in the La-Grand Place.
After another long day of touring we headed back to Maastricht Saturday night instead of Sunday night like originally planned. On the bus we met Cecile, who said she was going from France (where she studies) to Maastricht to surprise her boyfriend and offered to show me around when I go to Paris in 3 weeks. Sunday we rested from our travels, did homework for the upcoming school week, did laundry, and went grocery shopping.
Just for fun:
- You have to pay for public bathrooms.
- Maastricht has around 22,000,000 bikes, and stealing bikes is considered a sport.
- Dutch people are tall
- Learning to look at life’s interruptions as blessing in disguise; if the locks weren’t stolen in Belgium Devon and I wouldn’t have gotten to experience Germany.
- I sleep less here than in America.
- Jillian and I vow to try all the different coffee types here since we are coffee fanatics. Coffee here is smaller in size and less sweet; so we get to appreciate the taste.
- It is very easy to become dehydrated while traveling since water isn’t cheap and you sort of forget that you haven’t had any when walking around.
- I wear a GPS watch that tracks my steps and I have about 15 miles tracked each day (with running). If you told me I would walk this much in America I would think you’re crazy, but here it’s normal.
- Cursing seems to be a universal language, as well as smiling.
- Although trivial: Devon and I were disappointed that we didn’t get our passport stamped since we entered Belgium and Germany by bus instead of plane.
- After a week in a new place I learned my sense of directions is still lacking. I didn’t get lost on my run by myself today but I got lost returning from the grocery store 10 minutes away; baby steps I suppose!
- I saw a group of students playing SPUD by the guesthouse. SPUD was a childhood game I used to play and I wanted to join but the language barrier wasn’t ideal.
- kaas – cheese
- cashewnoten – cashews (because Gianna is allergic)
- geen doorgang – no entry
- Duwen- push
- Trekken- pull
- Sprechen Sie Englisch? – Do you speak English?
- Danke- thank you
- Wie viel- how much?
- Hallo- hello!
- Tschuss- bye!
(Thankfully Devon knew German so I didn’t have to try to pronounce words, I opted to learn simple phrases as you can tell)
- Toliet s’il vous plait – toliet please
- comme ci, comme ca- so so
- comment tu t’appelles- what’s your name?
- je m’appelle- My name is
- Merci beaucoup- thank you very much
Overall, after traveling away from the Netherlands for a weekend, Maastricht surprisingly is feeling more and more like home after returning. I am excited for a full week of classes this week and the opportunity to learn something new each day! Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week!
I didn’t know what to expect going abroad for my first time, but I knew whatever I was going to experience, it would be incredible. Everyone told me that I would have the time of my life and so far I haven’t been disappointed in the slightest. The plane length was intimating, but manageable. 10 of us, 5 girls 5 boys, embarked on a plane from Philly to Amsterdam to study abroad at Maastricht University with our business and economics Professor Delavan. We were fed dinner on the plane which floored me that I was able to get beer, and white or red wine. However, since I am under 21 I didn’t feel comfortable having that liberty quite yet. Instead, I got a Diet Coke and it said “a moment like this” on the can. I thought, “how perfect is this moment right now”; on my way to a foreign country, sitting in between two people from different countries than my own, ready for any challenge that may come.
Saturday we arrived in Amsterdam, Netherlands. I love this city so much! I would definitely live here if I could. I wish there was a way to transport this city to the US. It is similar to Venice in that the city lies within many canals (it actually has more canals than Venice!). All the colors of the buildings have a combination of: black, ivory, deep purple, and maroon. If I were to describe it, I would say it is a very hipster-looking city. Bicycles are a big thing here in Amsterdam, and you have to be careful not to get run over by bikers while crossing the streets or walking on the sidewalks. Be sure to stay OFF the bike lane! On every canal (as seen in some of my pictures), bikes are parked along the fence, making it a very characteristic feature of Amsterdam.
There were many differences from other European/American cities that we noticed right away when we were walking the streets. One was the public urinals that were right on the sidewalk! Some were covered, but others were not! When we talked to our driver leaving the city, he said that public urination is a problem here, so they built these urinals. If urination is truly a problem on the streets, I think the urinals are definitely a great idea!
As I’m sure many of you know, Amsterdam is known for weed and prostitution! We saw through store windows clerks rolling weed. We also saw sex and prostitution museums! We didn’t go in them, although I’m sure they would’ve been very interesting. The driver also told us that smoking weed is just a normal thing like smoking a cigarette would be in the US. No one looks twice here. And if you are smoking a joint, and a police officer approaches, not to be afraid and throw it away, because they don’t care! I asked if he thought it was a problem that weed is legalized here and he said, “no, it’s a great thing. Every city should make it legal. More people want to do something that is illegal; the appeal is bigger.” He even stated that the majority of people who smoke in the city are tourists and not locals! He recalled one family who skipped their flight back to California so they could stay and smoke two more days!
We had two great meals while here. We ate at a restaurant that supposedly had the best burgers. I got a burger with: egg, bacon, cheese, onions, and a special sauce on it. For dinner on our last night, we ate at a restaurant called Jackets. They only serve salads, and baked potatoes (jackets are baked potatoes with the skin still on them). I got a baked potato with: chicken salad, herbs, cheese, bacon, and honey mustard. Definitely the best potato I have ever had. The road to obesity is definitely real on this European trip.
Next stop: Paris, France!
Amsterdam is the capital city and most populous of the Netherlands
The city region has an approximate population of 2,431,000 people
Originating as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, it become one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age (17th century). During that time, the city was the leading center for finance and diamonds.
The Amsterdam Stock Exchange is the oldest stock exchange in the world.
Home to the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House
Home to more than 60 miles of canals.
De Wallen is a designated area for legalized prostitution and is Amsterdam’s largest and most well known red light district. It consist of a network of roads and alleys containing several hundred small, one room apartments rented by sex workers who offer their services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights.
Barcelona is so beautiful! I spent the two days just relaxing on the beach. It was very refreshing to just sit by the water and relax after a month of traveling. But I think my favorite part about Spain was the food. I had paella, fresh seafood, and wonderful sangria while there.
As always, once we arrived it is a little bit of struggle to find the hostel, but I think this trip was almost record time. I had to break out my very rusty Spanish skills while trying to navigate. The people of Barcelona were super friendly and were always willing to help.
The beach of Barcelona was small compared to our idea of a beach. It’s just right along the city which is pretty cool! While on the beach there were multiple people trying to sell things, from alcohol, clothes and even massages. But it was technically illegal for them to be doing that so when the Police went by it was comical to watch them all run and try to hide!
Our last day on the beach right before we left, we met some super friendly Dutch guys. Obviously we conversed a lot about our summer program in Maastricht. The one guy said something that stuck with me. “It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice.” I think this not only shows the true Dutch culture but also speaks a lot to life.
From Barcelona, the plan was to go to Paris for the day and then arrive late at the Brussels airport. But God has slightly different plans than that. We woke up at 5:30 and made our way to the airport. It was time to board and there was no plane in sight. At this point, I’m a little worried, but only hearing of a one hour delay I didn’t think much about it. However, after that hour, the desk started to hand out food coupons. Which as a student on a budget I greatly appreciated, but this meant the delay was going to be a lot longer. Word finally comes around that we will be leaving at 3:30…. Let’s just say there was some sleeping and multiple games of uno and rummy. Brittany and I even went “shopping” around the area and I found a very cute dress!
Although a little frustrated, I didn’t let myself get upset about this. Although we already used our 30 minutes of free wifi at the beginning, I knew there was nothing we could do about it so getting upset would only make the situation worse. So we finally leave around 3:30 and arrive in Paris a little after 5. Knowing that our train that night was at 9:45, I thought well at least we have 3 hours in the city. But with our luck that day, it was an hour bus ride into the city and it took 40 minutes to get to the other train station. This meant that we had an hour and half in the city. We felt so rushed the whole time (even though it wasn’t long.. ha). We literally took pictures at the Eiffel Tower, got a mediocre crepe and then had to head to the train station.
At this point on the metro, I’m thinking okay our bad luck has to be gone by now… right?? Well not exactly. On the metro, I had a man try to steal stuff out of my backpack, which is not my idea of fun. But not to worry, I luckily saw him and was able to stop him!
After 9 hours in the airport, a rushed hour in the city, and a stressful metro ride, I was ready to get on the train and just get to the airport. Thankfully, no problems getting on the train! FINALLY, we are on our way to the end of our journey.
EKKK.. that was the sound we heard mid-way through the trip. You are kidding me right?? The train is now stopped and they just made an announcement that they are unaware of why the train has stopped. Brittany and I just look at each other and start busting up laughing!! This was a day filled with bad luck and we were so tired that we just found the whole situation hilarious. After some time, they figured out that the train in front of ours had hit an animal and that was what caused the delay.
We have finally arrived at Brussels train station a few stops down from the airport which meant we had to buy a ticket. Of course, none of our cards worked and neither of us had enough euros left to buy the tickets. So at this point, we just hopped on the train and decided to pay for the ticket on board. Thankfully, this worked out and we were able to get to the airport and retrieve our luggage with no problems.
Now, only 9 hours til our flight home……
This week was filled with a lot of different emotions. On Friday we went to the USA vs. Netherlands soccer game, which turned out to be a huge upset. The Americans came out on top in the last couple minutes of the game. It was an awesome experience, but we were definitely the black sheep repping our red, white and blue!
Then Saturday we said goodbye to all of our Xavier and LVC friends and they all left to go back home. I have to admit I was slightly jealous of them all because part of me just wanted to go home and see my friends and family. But Brittany and I planned to stay an extra week and travel to Italy, Spain and Paris!
We started in Venice, Italy! We got into the city pretty late which wasn’t the best idea. The streets of Italy are a maze and of course we didn’t have a map or Wifi. We asked so many people for directions but still couldn’t find out hostel. God bless the one man that called our hostel for us because we would have been walking around all night! A worker from the hostel actually came and picked us up so we didn’t have to navigate through the streets anymore. After finally arriving at the hostel, there was no sign indicating the hostel, just a little piece of paper on the call button outside…. No wonder we couldn’t find it…
The next morning we woke up and ate some breakfast. This is where we met the nicest mother and son from Tennessee who showed us around the city that day. They were so nice and really helped us learn the streets of Venice. It was also nice to talk to fellow Americans for a couple hours. That day we saw all of the “touristy” attractions. Then after we ate lunch with them and said our goodbyes we decided to venture to a recommended pasta restaurant. A Le Torte makes their pasta every morning from scratch and it was delicious! I had black pasta and seafood with asparagus and it was one of the best meals I’ve had in Europe! To my surprise I was not overly impressed with the pizza in Italy. The only perk about the pizza was that the cheese and toppings were super fresh but it just tasted like normal pizza to me.
After our pasta, we decided just to venture around the streets of Italy. This is when we found some of the coolest places. We first stumbled across a little lookout point onto the Mediterranean Sea and another island. It was right at sunset and was absolutely breathtaking! Then we kept walking and came across what looked like a little yard sale. After talking to the locals, it was a fundraiser for the church to go on a mission trip. They were selling homemade baked goods, so of course we had to try some of the classic Venice desserts. We had a very tasty fruit cake! After taking a few steps around the corner we saw there was a little fair going on. Food, beer and even a concert filled up the little village’s square, along with all of the locals. We were absolutely amazed at what we had found. We stayed and enjoyed some Italian music for an hour or so. I was so thrilled that we stumbled across this little village in Italy. It was without a doubt an unforgettable and once in a lifetime experience.
The next day we ventured to another little island 10 minutes from Venice, called Lido. We spent the day soaking up the sun! We were a little worried that it was going to be a nude beach because most beaches in Europe are nude beaches, but thankfully we were safe!
Our last day in Venice, we walked around the museum, Basilica and Palace and saw some really impressive art and sculptures from hundreds of years ago. That night we went out and “did as the Romans do” and enjoyed an Italian lifestyle.
Overall, I really enjoyed Italy. The humidity and heat were a little overbearing but the beauty of the city made up for it! I would love to visit not only Venice, but also all of Italy again!
Now we are in Barcelona, Spain!! The game plan is just to enjoy two days on the beach relaxing after a full month of traveling.
It’s hard to believe but we only have one more day left at the university! Time sure flies when you’re having fun. It feels like yesterday when our plane finally touched down. Without a doubt this experience has been unbelievable.
From traveling around Europe, I have not only met a lot of people from all around the world but also figured out a lot about myself. It’s crazy how in 4 weeks you can learn so much about a different culture that helps shape your outlook on America and the world. Just from being here I have gained even more independence and confidence in myself. Just something about getting lost in the middle of nowhere with your friends but finally finding your way is invigorating.
As much as I hate to admit it, every single cliché about traveling is completely and utterly correct.
1.You will take a picture of almost every meal because everything just looks amazing!
2. Time really does fly when you are having fun!
3. You will get lost…. For me….. more than once.
4. Laughing is a universal language. No matter where we went this was one thing everyone had it common.
5. You will be homesick. Yes I have to admit, I miss my family and friends A LOT!
6. On the same note, when it’s time to leave you will do everything in your power to stay.
7. Traveling is exhausting! All those steps add up and at night you can’t wait to get to bed!
8. Take the road less traveled. Believe it or not, the unknown places can be just as fun, if not more fun than the popular spots of Europe.
9. When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and money. Take half your clothes and twice the money. So sad but oh so true.
10. I’ve met a lot of people in Euorpe. I’ve even encountered myself – James Baldwin.
Tomorrow we have 2 finals, an exiting lunch and then the USA vs. Netherlands soccer game! This week has flown by. We had a couple days of classes and a field trip this week to visit regional companies. The first stop was at a Stroop (Dutch jam) factory. Unfortunately, they went out of business in the late 80’s so we mainly heard about the history of the factory and saw some of the old machines. For this stop, the best part was getting to try the different flavors. If you haven’t learned by now, I ABSOLUTLY LOVE anything with the word free before it!
The next stop was at Brand Brewery. They are a regional beer distributor who is now under the Heineken Company. I found this visit very interesting, I love hearing about how a company positions themselves in order to be profitable in a certain market. Once again, at the end we had a free beer tasting, which I’m pretty sure everyone enjoyed!
Yesterday I experienced the most challenging and difficult time during my abroad experience. I attended the status hearing of suspected Congolese war criminal Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court in The Hague (Den Haag). Bosco Ntaganda is facing charges of 13 counts of war crime that include: murder, attempted murder; attacking civilians, rape; sexual slavery of civilians; pillaging; displacement of civilians; attacking protected objects; destroying the enemy’s property; and rape, sexual slavery, enlistment and conscription of child soldiers under the age of fifteen years (and using them to participate actively in hostilities) and 5 counts of crimes against humanity.
Before going to the actual status hearing we went through security, watched a film and presentation. After asking questions we went to the status hearing where we sat in front of the entire court. I was not expecting to be sitting across from a man who has committed these heartless crimes. The judges sat directly across from us, below them the legal chambers were present, to the right of us were the legal representatives of victims and the prosecution, and to the left of us were the defense, registry, and Bosco.
At one point in time he finally lifted his head during the status hearing and I looked into his eyes. His eyes were empty. I saw no one behind his eyes. Therefore, no matter what happens, found guilty or not guilty, no punishment will ever live up to the crimes he committed. There will never be an amount of time or revenge that will serve justice to the victims and their families. This is what made the court case difficult for me because I could not stop thinking about the people who have been affected by his actions. Toward the end one legal representative of the victims read quotes from the victims and their families, in which I was saw no emotional reaction from Bosco. During the reading my heart pounded and ached for the victims and their families. I am not sure what causes so much hatred or reasoning that justifies his courses of action. In the end his court case is pushed back an additional week upon prosecution’s request due to the need for additional translations. This court case definitely made me rethink what justice truly means.
Thank you for reading,
This past weekend was one of my favorite weekends of being here! We traveled by train to Eindhoven. We met up with some of our friends who live in Eindhoven. We went out for dinner at a place called Vapiano’s! The company was developed from previous McDonalds managers who were not happy where they were at and wanted to develop and work under a different vision of serving people. The restaurant has very nice inside interior that allows people to have their own private table and waiters who serve drinks. The only part that is similar to McDonalds is the ordering food process. In order to purchase your meal you get in line, choose your meal/pasta of your choosing, order it, watch the chef cook your food, and swipe your own card that is given to you for the time spent there. You can add food or other beverages to the card throughout your stay at the restaurant. Needless to say we enjoyed our time here and the food was delicious!
The main reason we came to Eindhoven our final weekend was to attend THE FLYING DUTCH MUSIC FESTIVAL!!! This music festival had the top DJS in the world play music here. We had an absolute blast here! We arrived at the music festival around 2 pm and never stopped dancing until 11 pm. This music festival was not only a great time with the music, but also learning, talking, and building relationships with the local people who live in Eindhoven was a cultural experience!
Thank you for reading,
This weekend was our shortest during our trip. We only had 2 days to travel, so in order to save some time and money, a small group of us went to Amsterdam for the weekend and it was a blast! However, finding a hostel for Friday and Saturday seemed almost impossible. After hours of searching we decided we would just leave super early Saturday and just stay one night.
Well let’s just say 5:30 came really early Saturday due to some electrical problems the night before. Friday just wasn’t my day when it came to electronics. During the afternoon my phone was completely shot and would not turn on despite all of my effort. Thankfully, with the help of a fellow LVC student we got it working again (THANK GOODNESS!). But my trouble didn’t stop there. After an exciting night of card games with Xavier and LVC students, we decided to go to bed. When I went to unplug my surface charger, the lights turned off…. I went out into the hall and heard that everyone else in our floor was out of electricity. So I went down to safety desk and an officer came to assess the problem. Of course, he couldn’t find a problem with our breaker. At this point it’s about 12:30 and I am so tired and just want to get to sleep but he had to call in a specialist. After fiddling around with some things, the electricity was back, FINALLY bed time….. Well not exactly, as I plugged in my phone charger, the electricity went out again. After this, I realized I’m probably the source of the problem. So the specialist finally makes it to our room and I explain that I think it was my outlet causing a problem. After some investigation, he determined that I was right and had to replace my outlet. It is now 1:30 and he is just finishing up. Mind you we have to be up in 4 hours. I’ve never been so excited to lay down in my bed and get some sleep!
After a short night of sleep, we got up and took the train to Amsterdam. Upon arrival, we didn’t really have a game plan what we were going to do. So we got a hop-on hop-off canal tour for a very reasonable price. The first stop was to a cute little market that had a lot of good finds for cheap prices. I actually found a couple good gifts here!
After this the group I was with decided to split up, they were going to the red light district and I chose to do the Heineken Experience. After talking to them about the red light district, I was happy I didn’t go. They all said it was so sad and shameful how the women were portrayed. There were almost naked women displaying themselves in windows. They were pretty taken aback about how women could do that to themselves. Overall they said it was a huge eye opening experience but they definitely wouldn’t go back!
The last attraction I did was the Heineken Experience! Since no one else in my group wanted to go, I met up with some other students from Xavier and LVC to complete the tour. It was awesome! We got to learn the history behind the Heineken family, how they brewed the beer and, of course, tasting the beer. It was very interesting to learn the small details behind brewing the beer. At the end, they had a lively bar and a couple free drinks for each guest. That night, we dined at a little Italian restaurant and got some really good pasta!
It was around 9:00 and we were completely exhausted. So we headed to our hostel by taxi because we didn’t really have a clue where we were going. During the ride, the taxi driver mentioned that this “wasn’t the good part of town.” Great, 4 American girls in a part of town that is known for being unsafe. At that moment we all started to internally freak out. We arrived and checked in and noticed that the hostel was pretty nice considering the situation. Due to our pure exhaustion, we decided to just spend the night in our hostel, grab some food, relax and sleep!
I was so excited to get more than 4 hours of sleep! I barely made it through a 20 min Netflix episode before passing out. The next morning we woke up around 6:30 in order to get to the city center and get to the Anne Frank house before the line was too long. We arrived around 8:40 and the line wasn’t too bad compared to what we saw the day before. Waiting in line might have been the most miserable I’ve been on this trip. It was freezing (of course, I didn’t bring a jacket, because what college student needs a jacket….) raining, and a long wait. An hour and half later we finally enter the warm building and complete our tour of Anne Frank’s house. It was super interesting to hear her story and see a house where a Jewish family had to hide out from the German army. Unfortunately, there were no pictures allowed during the tour. But I will remember that museum for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t recommend waiting any longer than an hour and a half for the tour for any future travelers.
We then proceeded to get our souvenirs from Amsterdam. Which for most of us consisted of a postcard and shot glass from the city. Next up was food! For lunch, we went to a little café in the city. Three of us scarfed up cheeseburgers because we have been craving them for over a week. I do have to give that restaurant some props, because that cheeseburger was quite appetizing!
After eating, we got our train tickets and headed back to Maastricht since it was just raining all day. Tomorrow we are going on a field trip to the Brand Brewery and a syrup factory which will be interesting to visit!