Part 3: Farm Life and Hague Life

If you haven't done so, check out the beginning of my journey:

"Part 1: First Day Jitters in Amsterdam"

"Part 2: Surviving the First Week"

After getting over the first week, I began to immerse myself into the culture and enjoy the new experiences of Amsterdam. Our group (from Augustana College in Amsterdam) had a field trip to "Clara Maria Cheese And Clog Farm." This was set up by IES Abroad, so we didn't have to spend a dime (except at the gift shop of course). 

After we got off the bus, I could immediately smell the cows that lived there. We were greeted by sweet locals and were split into two groups. In my group, we went to make our own cheese. They had a large barrel where they put the ingredients for the cheese. For us to make, they had the simplest cheese (plain), but from that cheese you could add spices/flavors to make different cheeses. They mixed all the ingredients together and had us take half a bowl to scoop up the bits of cheese into. When we got an amount that overflowed a bit, we moved to a table to compress it. We used a plastic spherical plate to press down on the cheese to make sure it was compact. They also gave usthe opportunity to buy our own cheese. I didn't think I would do it at first, but after going through the process, I was ecstatic to buy the European cheese that I made in the Netherlands. I brought it home and everyone loved it.

We then switched places with the other group and fed the animals. They had tons of cows and some roaming birds in the barn. We also saw and pet the calves they had there. The worker gave us a large bag of bread to give to all the cows. I noticed a lot of people were feeding the cows at the front, so I ventured to the back of the farm, so the other cows had a chance to have a snack. The cows were enthusiastic and loved the bread that I fed them.

After feeding and petting the animals, we went to another barn and climbed all over large haystacks. Some of them reached to the ceiling of the barn! I felt like a little kid again when I climbed over the hay and it made the experience even better. The day ended with us trying apple pie (which was amazing) and quickly going through the gift shop before getting back on the bus. 

My classmates and I had a fun outing to Mama Dough’s that day and we all had some drinks and pizza. It was a great bonding experience for all of us and a nice way to relieve ourselves from the overwhelming elements of being in a foreign country. At the end of the week, we all took another class field trip to the Hague (also in the Netherlands). We walked around to view the architecture and went to Mauritshuis (an art museum) to look and learn about the pieces there. My art professor from Amsterdam was there with us and taught everyone (even people that weren't in her class) about the paintings. There was also an exhibit about Rembrandt (Golden Age Dutch artist) for an anniversary and my friends and I went through it to learn more about his pieces and see the works up close. It was spectacular to learn about little details and see so many famous works like "Girl with a Pearl Earring" and "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp."

Afterwards, we were released for lunch and my friend and I ate at Happy Tosti Den Haag. They had sandwiches and paninis which were tasty! We loved the food and it was a nice spot to talk for a bit before we moved on. We found our way to the next location (after making a detour for ice cream) which was an museum experience of what refugees went through. We went in groups of two and quickly lived through what refugees went through when they needed to go to a safer country. It was intense at first because of how suddenly you are put into a different place, but at the end they had the stories of eight people who had to leave their countries for different reasons. It was eye-opening to learn about their stories and what they had to sacrifice to achieve a better life. Going from making cheese and feeding animals to learning about refugees was a 180 degree turn I did not expect to take, but I was grateful nonetheless that I was able to experience it. Not all experiences are the most fun in a new country, but every moment is worthwhile.