If you haven’t done so, check out the beginning of my journey:
After an incredible journey through Eastern Europe, this week was less chaotic. My classmates and I traveled to Rotterdam in the Netherlands for our Art History class. We were learning about the architecture and De Stijl style between the mid-1910s and early 1930s. After taking the train to Rotterdam, we walked around the city while our Dutch professor and tour guides told us about its history. There were a handful of statues and monuments about different people and a bombing in the city. We continued to walk around, and we came across spectacular art pieces. One of them was on the side of the building as a gushing waterfall. While walking, my classmates and I could get a sense of the city from the mini shopping area we passed through and while walking across multiple bridges. The best area was the Market Hall, a huge indoor section in Rotterdam with countless stands for food, clothing, trinkets, etc. I was stunned to see the magnitude of the building and could feel the business of the lives around me.
Moving forward, we continued to tour the city and remember the moment I was truly stunned to be in Europe. My classmate saw an enormous sign on the side of the building, and she asked the tour guide what it said (because it was in Dutch, which no one in the group spoke). The guide told us that it was an advertisement not to drink milk because of how it was processed in the Netherlands. I remember the surprise all of us (Americans) had to this. For me, I would always have at least one glass of milk a day when I was young and am continued to be encouraged to drink milk for my health. Hearing how a different culture did not have the same mindset reinforced how I was on a different continent with different ideas I had never encountered. I was never more grateful to be in the Netherlands because it does open your eyes to new ideas and experiences when you travel abroad. The last stop we made in the city was visiting the Rietveld Schröder House. This house was an embodiment of the De Stijl style and had intriguing elements that amazed me. Besides the enormous rooms it had, there were sliding (for lack of a better word) covered gates so the person could separate the rooms for guests to sleep in or to have a private meeting room. The kitchen had different aspects to help the housekeepers, and the rooms each had their own traits that made them special. Sadly, my phone died before I went to the house, so I am working off of my limited memory from two years ago. It was incredible seeing this and learning about it with the classmates I had grown close to.
Nothing else happened during the week except for a presentation I was finishing in a panic. I had to present on an artist, and I choose Henri Pieck, who sketched artwork during the Holocaust. I was having issues finding his artwork online and found out I could go to the Rijksmuseum and see the pieces up close because they would take them out of the collections for me. I struggled to find a time to go to the museum and finally had an opportunity in between my classes in the middle of the week. Once the first class was done, I raced on my bike to the Rijksmuseum and went to the library. I told someone had made an appointment and was led behind the scenes to see the work. They told me what I could and could not touch and allowed me to take photos of the pieces to put in my presentation. I never thought that I would see this artwork up close and was honored for the opportunity to see the pieces that were in the collections. Thankfully, my presentation went well, and I got brownie points from the professor for going behind the scenes. This moment was one of the things I will ingrain in my memory because I may never get a chance like this at another museum. While this week was low-key, next week is sad because it is the last week of my spring semester in Amsterdam.