Turning 21 in Amsterdam

Andrea Anderson
June 15, 2015

On the first day of classes, three people wiped out on their bikes on their way to our first class. That I know of. Naturally one of those people was me. But other than that, I think we’re all adjusting nicely to our new home! We are all taking two classes, although there are three total classes to choose from, all having to do with gender and sexuality. The two classes I am taking are: Gender, Sexuality & Modernity in Dutch Literature from 1800 to the Present and Sex & Science: Dutch Medicine and Intersexuality. Both of my professors are amazing. They’re passionate, intelligent, and incredibly helpful and relatable. Not to mention I love any class that has to do with gender studies of some sort. It’s an interesting mix of students because there are only like four out of twenty two of us on the program who actually study some form of gender studies at our home universities. Which isn’t a bad thing; it’s fascinating to hear the perspectives of students across majors and minors who don’t study this sort of stuff every day. I think it’ll be a growing experience for us all.

The cool thing about the classes we’re taking is that we often have excursions planned, whether it’s to a museum like the Anne Frank museum which we’re scheduled to visit in a few weeks, or whether it’s an impromptu trip to a park like we did on Wednesday. We were discussing contemporary Dutch poet Maria Barnas and our professor brought us to Diemerpark, a park that used to be a dumping ground where she had been commissioned by the city to inscribe her poetry on drain covers throughout the park. It was such a wonderful way to really engage in her poetry and art and discuss their meanings in the setting they were meant to be appreciated in.

The first week of classes went pretty smoothly as we conquered syllabi, repetition of names and majors, and introductory material. On Tuesday, our second day of classes, I turned 21. My roommate, Kelsey, and two other friends I’d made here, Barb and Cassie, took me out for dinner which was lovely. We had delicious pasta and Prosecco wine, so all in all, not a bad birthday! I had planned to stay in Amsterdam this weekend, but everyone seemed to be leaving to go to other countries, so last minute (and I mean last minute…like Thursday afternoon), I bought tickets to visit two of my best friends who were studying abroad in Rome. Being able to buy tickets to another country last minute at a reasonably affordable price is one of the many perks of studying in Europe. Friday morning, I left for Rome where I had such an amazing weekend exploring the city during the day and celebrating my birthday at night with my best friends.

When I arrived in Rome on Friday, my friends and I went to explore the streets of Rome. We ended up arriving at a refugee building named Ostencia. It houses many refugees and was actually almost torn down at one point. An artist, Blu, painted the entire building, adorning it with beautiful murals, to turn the building that is a home to so many into something the city could no longer justify destroying.  Full of beautiful pictures and every color imaginable, the building is one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever seen. As we walked through Rome, more and more beautiful street art appeared around every corner. It’s truly breathtaking.

Not only was it my birthday weekend, but it also happened to be Roma Pride, aka LGTBQ pride weekend. I had been so sad because I was missing DC pride because of being in Amsterdam, but I left Amsterdam before their pride, so I thought I was missing out on my yearly dosage of parades and celebrations of love and identity. So when I found out it was Roma Pride the weekend I was visiting, I was ecstatic. After exploring Ostencia all day, we went to what was supposed to be a Pride sponsored concert. However, after it hadn’t started nearly an hour after it was supposed to have, we gave up and went home, too exhausted to wait any longer. Apparently Italian time is very lax! The next day we did some typical sightseeing during the early afternoon, seeing the Coliseum and Circus Maximus and sweating like crazy before convening to watch the Pride parade go by near the Coliseum. We were handed free signs to show our support and we had such a blast cheering on the beautiful parade participants. I don’t know if it’s because we were right in front of the Coliseum or if we were just so particularly attractive, but so many people stopped to take pictures of us cheering on the sidelines. It was a great day to be alive and definitely an ego boost! We ended the day with dinner by the Tiber River where they have all of these tents set up with places to eat, drink, and shop. It’s such a lovely place to sit and reflect on the beauty that is Rome.

The next day I had to leave to go back to Amsterdam, but we were able to stop by the Jewish Ghetto in Rome before I left, stopping to grab a cappuccino and pastry from a bakery so I could say I’d had an Italian coffee. All in all, it was an amazing trip and I’m so happy I got to spend such an amazing birthday in two amazing cities full of culture and beauty.

After a two hour delayed plane, public transportation problems, and walking 30 minutes in the cold, I finally got back to my apartment in Amsterdam, only to find that we had a mouse scurrying back and forth. But hey, it’s good to be back!

(p.s. actually though, I'm terrified I'm going to wake up to a mouse on my face, plz send help)

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Andrea Anderson

<p>A rising senior double major in Politics &amp; International Affairs and Theatre, with a minor in Women&#39;s Gender, &amp; Sexuality Studies, Andrea Anderson is passionate about social justice, exploring the world through different lenses, and tea. Though she may come across as shy and timid at first, this 4&#39;10&quot; girl never backs down from a feminist debate and she is is as willing to try something new as she is inclined to sit back with a glass of wine and an episode of Gilmore Girls. Her favorite things in life include hugs, Harry Potter, and Indian food, and she is so so excited to explore the beautiful culture of Amsterdam this summer.</p>

2015 Summer 1, 2015 Summer 2
Home University:
Wake Forest University
Political Science
Theatre Arts
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