CARNAVAL!

I went to Carnaval this Sunday in Maastricht, and it was amazing. We arrived around noon when they were amidst their opening ceremonies. They pulled a giant puppet up on a stick, where she remains all week until Tuesday when she’s burned.  They set off eleven (the fool’s number) cannon fires, and then the parade began. We watched the parade until five in the afternoon when we decided we should head back to Amsterdam, but the parade was still going strong as we left! People dressed up in extravagant costumes, built themed carts with built in taps, celebrating the day with a lot of alcohol. It was like a week-long Halloween for adults.

It was an exciting, but exhausting day. I definitely would come back for Carnaval again given the opportunity. It was an amazing look into the culture of the south of the Netherlands. (Holland/North NL doesn’t celebrate Carnaval, because they’re most Protestants and Carnaval is a Catholic event.) Here are a few photos of costumes and family carts that made me laugh.

On a different note, this Saturday we head to Morocco!!! I’m excited to go to Africa for the first time, and I’m extra pumped for shopping in the medinas.

Stedelijk (feat. The Van Gogh Museum)

Today I biked to the modern art museum and the Van Gogh museum. These are my favorite pieces from today! I remembered to take photos of their information plaques this time (for the most part), so they all have their artists and titles. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam has a large Tinguely exhibit going on right now, and it’s absolutely amazing. He’s a Swiss artist that made artwork that makes artwork. He took junk and created machines that move, draw, and light up. The exhibit was interactive and amazing. I have a few photos from the Van Gogh museum, but taking pictures there is forbidden. So, bear with the low quality. The photos aren’t supposed to exist in the first place. Shh…

We Printed 3D Clits!

So, a big part of one of my first modules in Amsterdam is sexual education and how much it lacks in so many ways. A large aspect we’ve discussed is how most women don’t know much about their bodies, specifically their genitals. If you think about it, even outside the classroom in popular culture, talking about the female body is still considered a taboo. Last night we had a session about the clitoris, its anatomy and how it works. I definitely learned some cool facts. Accompanying the session, everyone had the chance to buy their own colorful 3D printed clit. They’re actually more or less created to scale. Of course, every body is different, but these 3D clits are about average size. I didn’t end up getting one, because I knew I would just lose it, but the idea behind them is so neat and definitely something that sexual education needs to work on.

Enjoy my silly, not to scale, and generally anatomically incorrect doodle (and fun facts!)

 

Brussels: An Overview

This weekend, a group of us decided to take a three hour bus ride to the city of Brussels, Belgium. The bus driver was rude, the seats were tiny, and the reward of Belgian waffles at the end was the only thing keeping me going. The city is gorgeous, something akin to Washington D.C. with a little less history due to bombings in WWII. There were buskers, weddings, and delicious street food that greeted us as we made our way to Grand Place.

We visited the Smurf store, Manneken Pis, a chocolate museum, beautiful street art based off of the many different comics that began in Belgium, a drag show, and several waffle stands. All in all, the architecture and the weather were both beautiful though visiting made me so grateful that I chose to live in Amsterdam. Brussels is a wonderful city to visit, but I don’t think I could ever live there for an extended period of time.

Rijksmuseum

This past Sunday, Jordan and I took a trip to the Rijksmuseum; a huge, gorgeous museum in the heart of Amsterdam that holds hundreds of art pieces from Rembrandt to modern artists. We didn’t make it through the entire museum, due to sheer size, though we thought we had. (This museum is so big that we didn’t even realize we missed an entire side of the building, because it felt like we had to have seen everything!) The Rijksmuseum is on Museumplein, a square in the city that also hosts the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum (modern art museum), and the famed I Amsterdam sculpture.

These are a couple of my favorite pieces that we saw, and unfortunately I completely forgot to save their titles and the names of the artists responsible. The girl in the photo is Jordan, for those curious. The ceiling is just one photo of the beautiful architecture inside and out of the Rijksmuseum. After visiting the museum we got lost, getting on the wrong tram and not realizing it for twenty minutes. That was really fun…. Not!

 

Visiting IHLIA

As some of you know, I’m in Amsterdam for a study abroad program focused on International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender. I’ll have the opportunity to visit many organizations and museums that have dedicated their spaces and their work to things like LGBT history, women’s health, and/or sexual education. I’m incredibly excited to be able to learn about these topics in a place that has the reputation of being one of the most liberal cities in the world. While it is a harsh reality that Amsterdam is actually no further ahead in human rights than the United States is, it’s wonderful to tour and learn from a city that has resources I would never find in Toledo, OH or even in Ithaca, NY.

Today, our group met with researchers at IHLIA, an archive for LGBT heritage that has set up shop on the sixth floor of Amsterdam’s public library. The IHLIA archivists showed us their databases and resources that we’ll be able to use later in the semester for our research projects.

IHLIA has regularly hosted exhibits based around specific LGBT issues, and the current exhibit is called Living By Numbers. It’s an homage to the new HIV/AIDS monument that was built on the river in Amsterdam (pictured below). The exhibit shows the history of HIV/AIDS through peoples’ personal stories and a collection of news clippings and advertisements from the past ~40 years. The monument itself is an abacus, something that has been in HIV/AIDS imagery for quite a while and that symbolizes how a diagnosis resulted in, and unfortunately still results in, living by numbers: how many times you have to go to the doctors, how many doses of medicine you need to take, how many days you’ve stayed alive.

Day Seven: More Biking

At last, after a week in the Netherlands and a couple days in Amsterdam, we have finally earned our bikes. Since I’m short, the bike shop, Recycle, gave me a children’s bike which is slightly embarrassing, but at least I get a colorful bike instead of a boring gray one. My bike is blue, orange, and yellow, and she’s got a cute little bell on her. I’m excited to explore Amsterdam on a bike and be able to get around in ten minutes instead of half an hour. This city is run by bikers; we (I can say “we” now) have our own paths marked on the streets, our own signs, and if a car hits us it’s always their fault.

I was pretty worried about keeping up on a bike, being severely out of shape and not ready to exercise to school everyday, but my friend and I successfully biked home today! After I got back, I did the conversions to find out how long we biked for and come to find out… the route from school back home is six miles. To go to school and then come back is twelve miles in total, not to mention going on trips to the local museums or to grab a bite to eat during lunch. I’m even more worried about being able to keep up now, though I think that after a couple months I’m not going to want to give my bike up!

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