The GoGlobal Blog



Last weekend was my first trip outside of the UK! My roommate Nita and I planned a trip to Amsterdam and it was a blast!

We don’t have classes on Friday, so originally the plan was to leave Thursday night. However, USAC had tickets for all people studying abroad to go see Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of musicals, but I’m glad we decided to postpone our trip to stay and see the show. The Apollo Victoria is a beautiful theatre and the show was really good as well!

Friday morning our train for Amsterdam left early in the morning, so naturally we were running a little late. We had to convert all of our pounds to euros, which took more time than we thought, but luckily we had no trouble getting through customs and boarded our train just in time. Our train had a layover in Brussels, so I got a chance to try a real Belgian waffle, and it was incredible!

The first thing I noticed when we arrived in Amsterdam was the insane amount of bikes. Near the train station, there were plenty of cars and taxis, but the further you get into Amsterdam, there seem to be more bikes than people. I spent the entire weekend looking both ways multiple times before crossing the road to avoid getting hit by the aggressive bikers. Luckily, I managed to make it out of Amsterdam without any bruises caused by bikes (Nita was not as lucky).

The second thing I noticed about Amsterdam was how unpronounceable the street signs are. When I went to France in high school, I had a few years of French knowledge to back me up. When I went to Italy, I had a tour guide that spoke fluent Italian. I don’t speak Dutch. Nita doesn’t speak Dutch. And everything was in Dutch. I had no trouble communicating with anyone, seeing as everyone in Amsterdam speaks English, but it was still a strange experience not being able to read any part of the signs. It was also disorienting not being able to understand conversations going on around me.

Friday night we decided to explore the city a bit, and wandered upon a fair going on in Dam Square. I discovered very quickly that the best way to see Amsterdam is upside down, going 90mph. The ride was well worth the price because I spent about 15 minutes at the top of the 180ft ride waiting for people to board. Unfortunately it rained pretty much the whole weekend we were there, so needless to say after the ride we were drenched and freezing and decided to call it a night. Saturday and Sunday we packed in as much as we possibly could! We spent a good amount of time walking around, mostly because the public transportation in Amsterdam was confusing, chaotic, and all around bad. But also because walking truly is the best way to see a city! We bought 24 hour tickets for a boat that stopped at 8 different places along all the canals, which was a super convenient way to get around and sightsee. We managed to find a few nice, cheap museums and some really great places to get pancakes!

amsteram river

However, I think the most significant thing we did that weekend was see the Anne Frank house. It’s an incredibly popular museum in a very small space, so Nita and I wound up waiting in line for 45 minutes outside in the rain just to get in. Absolutely worth it. It felt surreal being in the house that Anne Frank and her family had hidden in during World War II, and it was so indescribably moving. At Otto Frank’s request (the only member of the Frank family that survived the war), the actual house and annex where they hid was kept bare to represent the emptiness that was left behind by all the death. There were quotes from the diary written on the wall, and further into the museum was Anne Frank’s actual diary. It’s difficult to describe how it felt, walking through a place that is so well known for such horrendous reasons. Personally, I think the most moving part of the whole experience was seeing pencil marks on one of the door frames, where Anne’s mother had measured her and her sister’s height during the time they were in hiding. For one, it was shocking to see just how long the family was in hiding, and how much they had grown in the two years they were there. Second, it reminded me that they were just kids. Measuring your kids’ growth on the wall is such a, for a lack of better word, normal thing to do. It really struck home and was such a humanizing factor. Being in the actual house was a lot more emotionally taxing than I could have expected, but it was absolutely one of the most moving things I’ve done since I started my European adventure last month.

Monday we had to check out of our hostel at 10am, but our train didn’t leave until 4pm, so we sat ourselves down at a restaurant and then a coffeehouse for most of the time because we didn’t want to lug our suitcases around the city! We boarded our train and traveled to Belgium with no problem. However, we cut it very close to missing our connecting train to London because we got stuck at the British boarder. Nita and I both have short term student visas, which requires us to show the customs officer our letter of acceptance to London Met every time we re-enter the country. We weren’t aware of that. Luckily, we had our London school IDs and Student Oyster cards (for using the Tube) with an expiration date on it, so we were allowed through. I’m really thankful that we did, because I did not like the idea of spending the night at the train station! That would have been a not so fun end to an otherwise fantastic trip!



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