Rotterdam, O Rotterdam

Authored by:
Helen Sharma

Helen Sharma

What a weekend we had in Rotterdam! We took the train down from Amsterdam after class on Friday--it was a beautiful day to look around the Dutch countryside as we rode. When we arrived, we checked into the hostel and then took a leisurely walk across the city towards dinner. On the way, we saw some amazing public art and architecture, both of which Rotterdam is famous for! 

Dinner, it turns out, was at the Markthal, or Market Hall, which is basically a massive, fantastical food court. Every food you could imagine was there, and a bunch of our QLA students ordered foods that were outside of their comfort zones, including Kamaia, who tried pho! After dinner they had some free time to explore the city. Many of the students went back into the Markthal to buy cheese or dessert, while others went vintage shopping in a new city!

Saturday was a looong day--but it was also Anna's BIRTHDAY, so we made a point to celebrate in style. In the morning, the entire group went on a long walk to see some of the same sights we'd seen yesterday, but this time with Fleur, our incredible tour guide. She showed us things we'd never have noticed about public space in Rotterdam, and patiently answered all one million of our questions. After the tour, she dropped us off at Bazar for a big Turkish lunch, where we ate hummus until we couldn't eat any more, and surprised Anna with exploding baklava (WE LOVE YOU ANNA!). 

The afternoon featured a queer poetry workshop led by the amazing Jeffrey, who helped us dig into our words and feelings about identity. This was an emotional moment for the group, and Isa and I are so proud of the way that our students took care of themselves and pushed their own limits.

After the poetry workshop, it was time to head to dinner on De Pannenkoekenboot, also known as The Pancake Boat. On the boat, which sailed around Rotterdam's storied harbor, we were fed literally unlimited pancakes--though the pancakes were enormous, so I think the most anyone finished was two. Some of our students have been disappointed in Dutch pancakes, as they're more crepe-like than American pancakes (thanks to Kaine, we all now know how to pronounce "crepe" properly), but they soldiered on nonetheless. 

The group is starting to "storm" a little bit--which is normal, especially for a group that knows it will be torn apart in one short week. We are in awe of the ways that our students continue to be generous towards one another and work to include everyone. 

On Sunday, the group went to the Nederlands Fotomuseum and looked at Dutch photography, learning about Dutch heritage through photographs. In the afternoon, it was time to head back to Amsterdam--the trip was overall too short, but so much fun!

We're sad that this is the final week of our program. It's bittersweet for sure; our students are having a great time and learning a lot, and many of them are starting to get excited to share their experiences with loved ones back home. We're looking forward this week to finishing our final projects, going to the Tropenmuseum, and having some free time in the city (when it starts to cool off!). And of course, we're so glad that Elliott is back with us after missing the Rotterdam trip due to illness. We missed you, Elliott!

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