Adventures in Culture and Travel

30 September, 2012

Amsterdam | So High You Can't Move

Some of my favorite things was dinner with friends, and
Anne Franks house. 
 Amsterdam, the home of near-naked women standing in a bath of red light, coffee shops that sell marijuana laced brownies, and joints to anyone trying to escape reality. Vegas has nothing on Amsterdam. Welcome to the true Sin City. It's a place so high on life, you'll find yourself at some point during your visit sitting upon the city's pavement, head leaned back against the facade, smoke pouring out of the nearby door, wondering where and who you are.

It's a vibrant, wonderful city that whispers in English from every nook and cranny, often better than most southern accented Americans do. It's quite an odd phenomenon having spent the last six weeks in Brussels. Amsterdam is filled with gluttony that ranges from the New York hot-dog, to native Netherlandish food. One night we were greeted by a singing Italian man as we ate dinner just outside the red-light district, the next we ate from a curbside cafe as the smells and sounds of Amsterdam fell upon our table.

One thing I didn't enjoy was the pervert on the
Tram trying to bump and grind with me.
However I don't really want to blog the Fodor's guide to Amsterdam, I'm here to blog my experiences in my own way, and hopefully presents a true perspective of my visits abroad. In the case of Amsterdam, I can say I loved the city intensely the moment I laid my eyes on it. There in the train as we, a group of about twenty students from Vesalius College arrived at the train station, we could barely contain ourselves as we would soon embark upon a day of learning. I'm of course being sarcastic. What a cruel joke upon students to take them to the Disneyland of the Netherlands and make them see churches and paintings. The paintings are (obviously) in this city for a reason, and I really don't think they were ever meant to be seen sober (especially Van Gogh.). It was apparent by the first art museum that the matter of obtaining mood altering drugs was a priority for some students, now turned secret agents, and who snuck down a blind alley, running three blocks and back, covered in cake crumbs and avoiding detection by Madam Delsemme.

Whiting out (known as a "whitey") occurs
 when the blood pressure of an individual drops
 to such a point that they become incapacitated,
 unresponsive, and come in and out of
 consciousness.  Typically this is a result of
dehydration (likely from our walking),
drinking, and/or other factors. 
By the end of the day our official school duties of paying attention were left behind as we departed the corner of a robust, busty woman inside her little glass box, and as Madam (which we affectionately call her) released us from the bonds of academia with the final warning: "be safe". We all made our way to a local bar where a series of events occurred after a single beer that no one expected or hoped for. It was as if someone had taken a highlight reel for the next few hours and had cut it into a million pieces, spliced it back together in the wrong order, and stuck a few extra scenes with police, paramedics, and a world of hurt and embarrassment for one. What was really remarkable for me that evening was the fact that these twenty students, all from different parts of the world, different backgrounds and upbringings, came together and cared for someone who they didn't know just two months ago. That's a beautiful thing, something that will leave you moved by humanity's kindness in our weakest hours.

Which brings me to my point. Of anything that was taught and learned on this day in Amsterdam, I'm certain that this particular evening in question will be the one we remember in twenty years. One which I suspect that despite the unpleasantness at the time will be looked upon fondly in our memories. Not because it was wild or crazy, but because in that one single moment, eighteen people came together with deep empathy and aided someone in need.  If only we can remember to do that the rest of our lives then I'd say that it was a lesson worth learning.