Sunday, September 03, 2006

Finished!

This post is to let you know that my study abroad is now over. I'm in Paris right now and will be back in the States (hopefully) on the 12th of September.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Utrecht


Utrecht was amazing! It's a much calmer town, with fewer cars, fewer tourists, and zero trams. Just a half hour train ride away, we found ourselves exploring a tremendous church tower and tasting some great greek food. The people I went with did tons of shopping (while I mostly did people/dog watching). I bought a Kwak glass. The picture is of the top of a fountain in the church courtyard.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Brown cafe around the corner

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Pride Parade!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A picture of that Tapas Bar

Tuesday August 1st

Another fantastic day in Amsterdam! The day started off with a lecture from Jacob Vossestein on the Dutch and their “pragmatic tolerance”. One great quote: The Dutch pride themselves on being so clever. Clever, but also tiny, which makes them only more clever!

When we think of tolerance we often think of wisdom and acceptance, but when we use the world “tolerate” it has an almost negative connotation of “turning a blind eye”. As Jacob illustrated there is actually a spectrum of meaning for the word, but in the Dutch case it is much closer to the meaning of “tolerate”. Historically, this could be seen with “pillars” of society. Different religious groups kept to themselves but also tolerated each other’s existence. On a smaller level, people live in their own “boxes”, tolerating others but keeping to their own business. In this way it is similar to urban life in the United States, however the huge difference is the government.

The Dutch government is notoriously tolerant, allowing many “illegal” practices to continue to infamous levels. So infamous, that they have become an undeniable tourist industry. But is this really “tolerance”, or a huge source of taxes and business? Apparently, the Dutch will even tax illegal drugs—they just watch an operation and know roughly how much money changed hands, then send a tax collector.

That isn’t to say that the Dutch haven’t had any problems with their tolerant attitudes. More recently the discussion has centered on Muslim immigrants. The extremists have beliefs that are intolerant, that say that the actions of others outside their community are immoral or unacceptable. How can the Dutch tolerate intolerance? Meanwhile, many Dutch stereotype these immigrants in much the same way as an African American is stereotyped in the United States.

After the lecture we walked to the Amsterdam Historical Museum.

The museum tour focused on religious tolerance and class differences in Amsterdam during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. We saw many paintings and artifacts that highlighted these differences and the struggle for control of the city. Many paintings, commissioned by the rich, showed the patron giving alms to the poor, or sitting in his finest fur, etc—status symbols. Also, the changing role of women was highlighted. In earlier years, women had difficulty exerting ownership over business. They were allowed to take over ownership of a business that their husband had owned after he died, but they were supposed to transfer this to their oldest son. Some prolonged their control of the business as long as possible, creating a unique bubble of strong women in a world where that was unheard of.

Once we were finished with the museum we had our own free time. For dinner I went with Kathleen and Rebecca on an exploration. We walked through residential districts to find this cool tapas bar under the shadow of a huge windmill. We tried some fondue, Belgian fries, and some interesting meatballs along with a Belgian blonde ale. I found the ale a bit sweet for my taste, but it went well with the fantastic food. Finally, we ended with apple pie, which was quite different from home, yet somehow familiar and comforting.

After the pie we walked back to our dorms but saw this really cool work of art:

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Another day, this time with pictures!


So I'll try to post as many pictures here as possible. First, just walking around Amsterdam the thing I notice the most is the amazing architecture. Check out this cool dark tower of shutters:














After the architecture, Amsterdam draws me in with the food. Check out these waffle-donuts:















The red light district is fascinating, but I'll admit it gets boring quick. Too touristy. Still, there's something to be said for jolly pink elephants:










Here's an example of my average grocery-store meal:














Finally, here's something relating to my research. A poster for a meeting of some kind to talk about the disturbing policies of Iran. Here's a rough translation of the text: "No war. No propitation policy. No nuclear bomb in the hands of Ahmadinejad. Iran. Time for change..."

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Amsterdam, Finally

I have finally moved into my dorm in Amsterdam and, after a good night's rest, feel much better. Last night I settled in, (switched rooms temporarily) and had some great lasagna under thunder and lightning (and an umbrella). Today I plan to explore around and get accustomed to my surroundings. Hopefully, I can try some Dutch food!