Day Trips, Exhuastion, & Antibiotics

Cute street in Harlem

Last Tuesday of Week 2 was a normal UvA class then Rijksmuseum day. Anna and I have gotten into the habit of stopping at the larger Albert Heijn on the way home from Rijks. I’ve been strapping various goods like milk cartons, water jugs, pasta, potato sacks, and yogurt cartons to my bike. I love Albert Heijn.

Last Wednesday, we went on a bike excursion of Noord, Amsterdam North. It was a cool experience being able to see a completely different side of Amsterdam that doesn’t normally get tourists because of its quiter, more industrial nature. It was a bit frustrating trying to bike with a group of almost 20 other people at a very slow pace and stop every 5 minutes to get an introduction about another different point, but whatever. Our tour guide seemed like this random man that Marek or Steve (program directors) had some connections with, and he seemed just a little off the entire time, which I found kind of humorous. You know, just one of those people. After our group tour, some of us went to this really cute, well-designed cafe for lunch. I’m pretty sure this was the first meal I had eaten out so far in Amsterdam (because the Dutch don’t have cuisine), and I ordered the most delicious burger. It was probably the most delicious burger because I was the most hungry girl. After lunch, Andrew, KP, and I made it across the water by ferry, and biked to the Rembrandt house to do an assignment for Steve’s class.

Steve’s class, “Van Eyck to Vermeer” consists of quite a few assignments that require you to go to various museums in Amsterdam and take note of certain aspects of exhibitions and whatnot. Very cool, right? How often do you get to visit museums in a foreign city for homework? However, when I was exploring the Rembrandt house, I found myself much more focused on taking copious notes and answering the assignment questions on my google doc pulled up on my phone rather than taking the time to truly appreciate being in the home that Rembrandt once lived and painted in. It’s just something to keep in mind going forward, especially with my visit to the Anne Frank House, a place I’ve been looking forward to seeing for a long time. The Anne Frank House is a museum visit option for another assignment, but I might just end up visiting it separately for the full experience and visit a different museum for that assignment.

For some reason, my solo bike ride home from the Rembrandt House that afternoon was extrememly enjoyable and liberating. A ride to take note of and remember.

On Thursday, we took the train to Harlem for a day trip. When we arrived, we did a walking tour of the quaint town in the sideways misting weather that reminded me a lot of small towns in Washington, like Bainbridge or Whidbey (ahh, home). We visited the Frans Hals museum and Steve gave his Dutch art spiels, then I left right after lunch with Maddie and Audrey to return home because I was feeling physically exhuasted and weak (more to come on that).

(I love the bike ride to and from Central Station, by the way. It’s a straight shot and the bike lanes are great.)

Rope swinging in this cool house boat setup, Harlem

That evening, Anna and I hung out in our room doing readings and other stuff, and Andrew came over to Funenpark to do laundry. It was a nice evening of just relaxing with them, and I was in a good, social mood for that. Laundry was a struggle though — even after about 4 hours of my clothes in the dryer, they were still somehow damp. So I “hung dried” my clothes — more like just laying my underwear and socks on and around various chairs in my room. Later on, Andrew, Anna, Maddie, Audrey, Julian, Dylan, Ellie, and I all hung out in Audrey and Maddie’s new room in Funenpark and had some wine. It was a good evening, but I was feeling so exhausted (again), despite getting enough sleep the previous night (more to come on that).

On Friday, we were to meet at the Van Gogh Museum in the morning, so Anna and I rode our bikes there in some serious frontal and side winds. We were swerved/pushed to the side by the wind while riding out bikes, which I found kind of humorous, but Anna found more aggravating. The visit to the Van Gogh Museum was very cool, but very crowded. I definitely want to go again during a less busy time to see the new exhibition focusing on Van Gogh’s mental struggles once it opens July 15th. Marek’s dicsussion of Van Gogh’s paintings left me feeling quite emotional — it’s a powerful thing when a painter’s life depicted through his paintings is able to do that. This was reassuring to me in the respect that I know Van Gogh is a very suitable paper topic for me for Marek’s research paper if I’m that interested and moved by seeing his paintings and hearing his stories.

I was feeling exhuasted (as usual) after the museum visit, so Anna and I headed home and did an Albert Heijn stop along the way, of course. I just rested in my bed and watched a comfort movie on Netflix in bed, packed my bag for Barcelona, then was fast asleep by 8PM that night.

Anna and I woke up at 3AM Saturday morning to ride our bikes to Central Station, then take the train to Schipol Airport for our flight out at 7AM. However, once we got to the aiport, I received the disappointing news that our flight had been delayed several hours to around 12PM (Vueling — cheap European airlines). We parked ourselves at the gate, and I found a section in the chairs where I was able to lay horizontally across the table and on the two neighboring chairs to catch some shut eye. I put on my headphones and slept for about an hour or so, to wake up and find that Andrew and Dorothy had made it to the gate as well, and were just as upset (and tired) as me and Anna. “Everything is bad!” — Andrew.

Luckily we got some lunch vouchers and used those for some fish and chips, and Andrew and I ordered Heinekens just for funsies. I was able to sleep through the plane ride (which ended up being delayed even more because we sat in the plane on the tarmac for about 2 hours), and we arrived in Barcelona, then took a taxi to Gloria’s Airbnb.

Oh, Gloria.

Anna, Dorothy, and I had some major difficulties trying to get into Gloria’s place because of the language barrier and her slight craziness. But luckily, we ran into some guys from the states also staying with her who spoke Spanish, and we able to get things figured out. Our first day in Barcelona was a bit rough, just because all 3 of us were in less than stellar moods (me, mainly because I was very phsyically drained and my throat was in major pain all day, and the others, mainly were bothered by the travel and Gloria, the slow start in general). We ended up at a really nice beach on the sea by the evening, which brightened all our moods, and I took a dip in the ocean which was fun and refreshing.

Anna and I trying to keep our moods up, Barcelona

Sunday was a much better day, largely in part because we spent it with Andrew and his cousin, who knew where to go and good places to see. We all had a really nice time walking around the Gothic quarter, la ramblas, and other big streets, then hit the beach again for some lounging and more swimming. The weather was impeccable the entire time we were there, ~80 degrees and sunny the entire time. It felt like a vacation weekend getway from Amsterdam’s recent drab weather. After the beach, we had some delicious paella with sangria, then called it a night and headed home.

Cathedral in Barcelona

On Monday, Andrew met us at Gloria’s, then we took the metro to start our trek up to Bunquers Del Carmel. We trekked uphill to this beautiful lookout point covering the entirety of Barcelona. It was a great final destination for our weekend trip, and it was actually quite surprising to see how geographically large Barcelona really is. Afterwards, we trekked back down (during this adventure, I was appreciating my chacos to a special degree — they are truly the best shoes for every summer situation) and headed back to la ramblas for some lunch (more paella and sangria), then took the metro to the airport.

View from Bunquers Del Carmel

Now, to my physical state. So, the past two full weeks of being in this foreign country haven’t been entirely 100% for me just because my phsyical state has most definitley not been 100%. Which sucks. Especially during the early stages of the program when I (along with everyone else) was trying to pack a lot of new and exciting things in while trying to remember to rest a little and take care of myself. I honestly just started off rough off the bat when I arrived, when my jet lag was probably the worst out of everyone in the program, coupled with my body’s sensitivity to new places, and my already weak-feeling throat/immune system. I had been exhuasting my body to no-end for 2 weeks, so around mid-week of last week (week 2), I started thinking about going to see a doctor. Of course my phone’s calling didn’t work (I’ve honestly just started to become indifferent to bumps like these — they mean practically nothing in relative perspective, and I just move on), so I had to use Anna’s calling to try and reach OnCall insurance to try and get an appointment set up through them. Another hiccup: the person who helped me on the other end was inept and gave me false information about the type of service/help that I would get from OnCall, which led to a series of emails exchanged among me, Marek, Steve, and OnCall, trying to figure that out, and trying to get me help (and a doctor’s appointment! My throat was in serious consistent pain at this point).

On Tuesday, I ended up biking to the walk-in clinic at UvA (thank goodness for that), and paid up front for an appointment. I told my doctor all my various bodily problems, and as soon she looked down my throat, she could immediately tell it was a bad bacterial infection (she looked a little frightented and grossed out by the looks of my throat, lol, swollen and white glands, gross). Thank god, I got a prescription for 3 different antibiotics, capsules for my throat, nose spray for my nose and ears, and then eye drops. The whole shabang. That afternoon, my spirits were soaring much higher with hopes that I would be feeing better soon (48 hours, the doctor said), and not physically exhuasted everyday.

Then, today (Wednesday). We took a day trip to Rotterdam to take a walking tour of the city and visit this really cool museum, Van Boijmans Beuningen. There were many neat modern art exhibitions that really sparked a new interest for modern art (Marek’s class) in me.

Picturesque landscape view of a mansion on the train ride to Rotterdam

Unfortunately, I was still feeling my normal tiredness after the visit and my throat was in noticeable pain, so I headed back with Anna on the train back to Amsterdam Central — a weak point for the day because I was hoping to be feeling better. The balance I have to strike between seeing new places/doing fun social things and trying to heal/take care of my body has been taxing me in these recent weeks.

The only homesickness I have felt so far has been soley caused by my sickness. When I’m in physical pain/exhuastion, I just want the comfort of my bed at home, the warm Bellevue 80 degree summer sun, and for my mom to tell me I’ll be okay. But other than that, I haven’t felt homesick at all, which is a good sign going forward for when I hopefully get past this sickness and am physically fit again.

Putting yourself out there, traveling, living in new places, and trying new things really pushes you in all respects. I love it but also despise it at the moment, because of course it comes with its numerous pros and cons. But overall, all that I have experienced so far has been good for me in terms of teaching me so much about myself, how I work with others, about other people, about other places, and the like. It’s all really great. I am thankful to be here, and I am just hoping I can have my full health back soon. Because without your health, everything else kind of starts falling towards shambles, and that’s just really unfortunate.

I still have so many more weeks here, and I’m still ready to experience and learn more. I have so much more of Amsterdam and the Netherlands that I want to see and experience!

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