Part 4: Taking in the Culture

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"

"Part 3: Farm Life and Hague Life"

Before I realized what had happened, I was already four weeks into my adventure. After the nerves and overwhelming factors disappeared, I leaped at the chance to try anything new. Some classmates and I decided that we would go to the Rijksmuseum (a large museum with over a million artworks with about 8,000 on display) before finding Dutch chocolate. The museum was massive and I was able to see many gorgeous artworks and architectual beauties. We could have spent the entire day there and would still not be able to see and learn about it in depth. 

After losing a few hours walking around the museum, we biked to some chocolate shops to try Dutch chocolate. Polaberry had delicious chocolate covered strawberries and we all melted over them. We walked around after eating to other shops to get more chocolate for later. I felt completely immersed with Amsterdam as I was walking around the streets because I knew (for the most part) my way around. I was understanding the culture better and had amazing people with me to make the experience better.

I was lucky that my art history professor structured her lessons around going to musuems. Every Monday we would bike to a museum and then talk about the works in class later in the week. This week we went to Oude Kerk (Old Church) and Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic).

The Oude Kerk was massive and freezing. They did not have any central heating because it was built in the 13th century. It was a simple design with some sparks of detailed pieces and the floor was covered with graves as people would pay to be buried in the church. Despite the weirdness, it was incredible to see because I have not seen something like this in the churches in the United States before. 

After looking around, we walked a short distance to Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder. I was confused when I first arrived because I did not see the massive churches like I was used to in Europe. I learned that this is one of many churches that was hidden from the public's hatred of Catholics and the Protestant faith coming into power. 

The house itself was a bit of a maze as we learned about the lives of the people who lived there and of how people lived generally in Amsterdam before arriving at the church. I was stunned how the home went from being narrow and cramped to large and spacious. The pinkish color threw me off, but the church was spectacular. My thoughts went straight to how Catholics would go to this house and other houses like this and secretly continue to follow their faith. We were able to go to the upper floors and look behind the scenes at how they moved their artworks around. The most stunning aspect was how close it was to Amsterdam Central Station (main hub of people going to different places). It's astoundishing what could be hidden in the most well-known of places.

For the rest of the week, the trend of going out more into Amsterdam continued. I was no longer wanting to stay safe in my room, but wanted to venture into the unknown. I went to a new cafe with my friend and spent some time outside to enjoy the good weather. When I wanted to ride my bike around, I was thrilled to keep learning more about the place I lived in. My classmates and I went to Amsterdam Central to do some souvenir shopping. The moment before this photo was taken, I did a funny pose and they got the exact moment when I was completely happy.

All of my worries about being in Amsterdam were gone. I felt like I belonged there and nothing would stop me from gaining as much as I could from it. When I see this photo, I know that despite my anxiety over not doing enough or messing everything up, I gave it my all and truly enjoyed myself every moment of the way.