It was that time of the year and my facebook newsfeed was overwhelmed with nothing but pictures from Spring Break. While rest of Hope College was on Spring Break, I had four papers and a mid-term to worry about soon after which I had my Spring Break. One of the best things about being in Europe during this type of break is that I got to travel to a totally different country.
It was ironic that I went to Holland for my Spring break. Not the one in Michigan but the one in Europe and exploring the country was a fun way to discover more about the “real Holland”. When you ask someone who has not been to Holland, they would usually perceive it as being very liberal in terms of a lot of things that are usually frowned upon. But there is more to Holland than that meets the eyes only in Amsterdam. Do not get me wrong, Amsterdam is a beautiful city but one you are around it enough you get the feeling that it is filled with way many tourists than you thought. My first encounter with the city was the somewhat similar to that; I thought it was lovely, bizarre, and memorable but at the same time I thought how I could not live there and how it was a tourist attraction.
I would have definitely seen Netherlands in the lights of Amsterdam if I had not explored other smaller cities. I managed to go to Leiden and Rotterdam which gave me a sense of both cultural and industrial sides of Holland. While Leiden was a small cozy city that I could see myself living in, Rotterdam was somewhat similar to any major city in the United States. From one of the oldest college in Europe to one of the largest harbor in the world, exploring Netherlands gave me a chance to get out of my comfort zone, speculate stereotypes, and make judgments after engagement. The country is so much different than how normal outsiders think of it.
I would love to post some pictures but I have not managed to download them yet. I just got back from one trip and I am already packing for another that starts tomorrow. It is a 9 day trip where my program is helping us see how EU influences its member states. I will make sure to keep everyone updated.