A Travellerspoint blog

January 2016

Dam, I Love Europe

Weekend in Amsterdam, Netherlands

semi-overcast 40 °F

As promised, here is my second post, about my second journey. This post is titled "Dam, I Love Europe" because it is so incredibly true.

The fun started on the train to Amsterdam. After changing three times in Cologne, Venlo, and Eindhoven and finally aboard the final train into the city, it was pronounced "broken" and wouldn't be taking us all the way to its destination. It would be stopping halfway in a small city where we would be left to find our own way. Fortunately there were quite a lot of people heading to Amsterdam as well, and we were told by a helpful station worker to run towards platform 5 where we would catch a train to the next city, but have to switch again there. This new train was standing room only--there were so many people put out from our old train that we were packed in there like the West Campus bus on a Thursday afternoon. After having gone only two stops (technically only one, the train missed the first stop completely) the new train was pronounced defunct as well. After about 10 minutes of waiting in the train at the station hoping what was being said over the intercom wasn't important, a new train appeared out of nowhere that would take us to the next city. At this point, any movement in a forward direction was progress. This time we did not make the mistake of joining the first car we could. We ran all the way to the back of the train before anyone else got there, and were able to sit down for the first time in an hour. Thankfully this train did not break and we made it to the next city, Utrecht. From there we caught the final leg into the city, and only arrived about an hour and a half later than we were supposed to. All in all, not a huge disaster for being aboard two broken trains and missing one stop. What amazes me is how simple the whole process was: there was no ticket checking, rebooking, chaos, fees, wait time. They even conjured up a new train on command when the second one broke. Efficient mass transport is one reason why I love Europe.

Amsterdam was easily the coolest city I've ever been to. The fact that much of Western Netherlands was reclaimed from the sea with technology that is over 200 years old blows my mind. The city itself is beautiful, historical, and bustling. I've always loved cities where there's been a lot of large scale planning. With Amsterdam, the entire city is built around the still-functioning canals, with 3 prominent rings of waterways surrounding the city center. The Port of Amsterdam was the hub of the Dutch East India Trading Company during the 17th century, and the immense system of canals and locks no doubt built on the historical significance of the port. I definitely recommend taking a boat tour; they're cheap, in any language, and provided a good context for the city that I walked 35,000+ steps in. The Anne Frank house is as awing and eerie as I imagined, and the line was indeed huge. My squad of 10 made the trip together and this time slept in a 6 person bedroom rather than a 4 person--much more space! We toured the Heineken factory, which offered some amazing views (and beer) as one of the highest points in the city, and walked through the Red Light district. I also met up with my friend Mikki (a world-traveler this semester) and had some amazing Dutch Pancakes the size of a pizza. The city left a really good impression on me. It is a charming and historical city full of nice people, and I look forward to visiting again. Another reason why I love Europe.

And that's all I got.

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Posted by jbolt 06:14 Archived in Netherlands Tagged canals beer amsterdam germany city Comments (0)

The Beginning

Where I'm staying, what I'm doing, and where I'm going

35 °F

First things first, welcome. This is the first time I've ever written something like this, so if you have any ideas of what a typical blog looks like, it's probably best to throw them out the window. This semester is a whole bunch of "new" for me, and I'm excited to see what happens.

I'm studying at a school in Vallendar, Germany called WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management. It's the most unconventional school experience I've ever been a part of; not because of upside-down classroom models or iPads at each of my fingertips, but because it's so student driven. It's genuinely a good time to go to school here. They have all the necessities--like a gym, excellent classes and professors, and a modern campus--but this school is so much more. You can rent a car from it. Students throw parties in the school's 800 year old cellar (which has beer on tap). International exchange students make up over 10% of the student body. All classes are taught in english. It's probably the most international thinking business school in Europe, and they have some of the best business programs in the world. Point is, I like this school. I'm taking Business Taxation, International Economics, Finance Markets/Derivatives, Software Development for Entrepreneurs, Marketing, and German; these are over two different quarters making up my semester, ending early May.

I also like where I am living. The city of Vallendar is tiny and nestled among the many historic and beautiful cities that run along the Rhine river. The main city of Koblenz is about 15 minutes away and hosts much of the nightlife, and is the famous point where the Rhine and Moselle rivers come together at the Deutsches Eck (German Corner). Around here the land is hilly and scenic, so it's unfortunate that the days seem so short, with only a few hours of daylight when it's not raining or snowing. I live (but don't spend that much time in) a nice flat that's literally one minute away from campus. I've been very fortunate to make a large but close group of friends so quickly, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the short semester with these people.

Now for where I'm going. We've already made a weekend trip to Cologne, a larger city about an hour and some away, but I'll save that post for when we go back in February for Carnival. This weekend the Tauschies (their name for international students) all took a regional tour to Marksburg castle, a local brewery, and a German restaurant. Next weekend? Amsterdam. Stay tuned.

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Posted by jbolt 07:06 Archived in Germany Tagged beer germany friends school europe abroad rhine study Comments (0)

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