Tulips and Canals

Amsterdam has been so far my favorite place I’ve visited during my travels here in Europe. The people are nice, transportation is quick and environmentally friendly, the city is quaint, and the history is rich. If I have the opportunity to only come back to one place that I’ve visited during my time here abroad (and I say this with only two trips left) I would choose Amsterdam. I still have so much to do here in Amsterdam but have opted for a more relaxed day rather than a packed finish. 

My trip to Amsterdam didn’t turn out at all like I thought it would but it turned out amazing. From staying in a Christian volunteer run hostel located literally right next to the red light district (yes you read that correctly) to all the tragedies that occurred on November 13th in the world this weekend has been profoundly surprising. 

I don’t want to dwell on the events of November 13th too much but I think it is important that we continue to hold in the light all the lives affected by all those events. Whether you do that by prayer, a moment of silence, meditation or any other means is up to you. All too often we take events that could bring us together and let them divide us. If I’ve learned nothing during my travels, I’ve learned that when things are done from love, support, and other genuine positive emotions there is always room at the table for those who need it. Life is not a zero sum solution. So I hold up Paris, Beirut, Japan, Mexico; Mizzou & Yale; and all other places in the world where these events occur on a daily basis but don’t get hashtags, profile pictures, and logos. The last I want to say on this for now is that during my time here in Amsterdam I was lucky enough to visit the Anne Frank house. I was able to see her diaries with my own eyes and what struck me was. Anne was a young girl who just wanted to live her life. She wanted the rights and opportunities children should be granted and that was taken from her. This is the fight that so many continue today. To live a life full of the basic things we should be able to all enjoy. 

Here in Amsterdam I’ve spent most of my time walking around, getting a feel for the city. I visited the tulip museum and ate cheese samples at the cheese museum. And I saw the coming together of strangers while the world was watching Paris. My experience here has been on of calm and togetherness despite what has happened in the world and this is what gives me hope. 

Amsterdam, you’ve taught me much more than the rich history of tulips, you let me see much more than the beauty of the canals, and you let me step back more profoundly than just in your museums and for all these things and so much more I thank you. I sincerely hope to see you again soon. 

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