Even as I sit here after my first day of classes in The Netherlands drinking red wine with spaghetti and veggie meatballs, I can say I’m starting to feel somewhat “Dutch.”
Today, I finally had my first day of Dutch Business Courses. Going to school in a city is a bit different than going to school in a rural college town because student housing is much more spread out and the classroom buildings are much closer together and in tall towers. Some even taller than back home! I really enjoyed my first class, Business Model Innovation; the professor jumped right into it. Much different than back home, but much appreciated. The professor told us that we would have influential guest speakers lecturing throughout the course and would be competing in innovation challenges. We were told we could choose our own groups for these challenges, luckily Henriette was in my class so we formed a group with some Dutch guys. We immediately had some reading to do to prep us for the course but they were quite interesting and similar to some readings I had done back in the States both at college and on my own. I can already tell I will learn a lot of valuable information in the course.
PLUS, I have learned some Dutch. And by learning Dutch I mean I know that “burger” in Dutch, translates to “citizen” in English. This was only to be discovered when I got my Amsterdam residency papers and saw that my nationality was listed as Amerikaans Burger. I have also learned that “kip” translates to “chicken” which makes me laugh and think of Kip when I see with kip sate or kip curry on the menu!
Since I am now a resident of Amsterdam and The Netherlands I was able to purchase a museum card which gives me unlimited access to almost every museum across The Netherlands for the entire year. I started my museum tour with the Stedelijk Museum which is another, larger museum of contemporary art and design. On exhibit were Jana Euler’s paintings which are psychedelic and explore the way culture and visual art tell a story. Her exhibit was called “High in Amsterdam, The Sky of Amsterdam.” Also on display was Zanele Muholi of South Africa. Her work is a direct reflection of the injustice in South America regarding race and sexuality. Many of her subjects are poor Africans or black lesbians. Through her photography she hopes to bring awareness to and eliminate the brutality against the LGBQTI community. There were also films on display in the exhibit that Zanele had filmed, one was of the first lesbian wedding in South Africa and the other about equal rights. Zanele organizes a program where community members can borrow cameras to document the injustice in South Africa in exchange for Zanele being able to share them. In the film when she was talking about the program, she said “Don’t wait for someone else to validate your existence, do it yourself so you don’t shortchange yourself” in reference to the funding of the program. This quote is applicable to everyone’s lives and made me feel inspired about all I will learn at university here in Amsterdam.
Later I went to the Van Gogh Museum where the art can be viewed in a timeline order of Van Gogh’s life. He lived a dark life, misunderstood by his parents, but was able to channel some of his difficulties into beautiful works of art. The museum has over 600 paintings and drawings by Van Gogh in its permanent collection plus rotating exhibits of his work. I definitely will learn a lot here in Amsterdam between my classes and all the museum opportunities!