Ada Abroad: Living and Working in Germany

An online journal recording two years spent as a Fulbright/Pedagogical Exchange Service Teaching Assistant at secondary schools in Germany. (2003-2004 I was in a village near Bautzen; 2004-2005 I will be in Nordrhein-Westfalen.)

Location: Münster, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

I'm an American living in Germany, working as a foreign language assistant at a secondary school. Future plans: getting my Ph.D. (probably in Germanic Linguistics), becoming a professor, living an ethical and meaningful life.

Monday, February 21, 2005

The Great Escape, Part III: Amsterdam for the Straight-Laced Traveler

You know who you are.

You’re more interested in the Anne-Frank-Huis than the Sex Museum. You’d rather take a leisurely walk along the canals of the Leidseplein than gawk at the hookers in the Red Light District. When you go to a “coffee house,” all you’re interested in is coffee.

Guess what? You can have a great time in Amsterdam without ingesting any substances that are banned in your own country, and without setting foot in the famous prostitution quarter even once. I did!

Amsterdam was quite an experience.

I experienced culture shock, but it was the pleasant sort of culture shock that comes with watching people sit confidently on bicycle racks as their friends peddle down canal-lined streets. Just about everyone in the Netherlands seems to speak both English and German. I only ran into one person who spoke neither, and then I was able to make myself understood in a kind of pidgin Dutch—it’s not a hard language to pick up if you already know its two West Germanic sister tongues. (Dutch sounds like what would happen if English and German had a baby with some kind of sinus problem.)

So what does the Straight-Laced Traveler do in Amsterdam?

-I visited the Anne-Frank-Huis and bought a copy of her diary in the original Dutch. With the help of a dictionary, I think I’ll be able to read it!

-Took in the Van Gogh Museum and learned some more about my favorite Post-Impressionist.

-Explored a very old Dutch canal house which has been furnished to look as it did in the 18th and 19th centuries.

-Walked up and down the canals at night.

-Spent an evening in a bruin café, the Amsterdam equivalent of an English pub.

-Ate a bunch of falafel from the ubiquitous “Maoz” falafel chain.

-Laughed at other tourists who were stoned and/or high on shrooms.

-Felt extremely conspicuous because anyone could tell by looking at me that I was a foreigner. It wasn’t what I was wearing; it was my lack of height. The Dutch are essentially a race of giants—literally the tallest people in the world!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

how tall are they?

1:11 AM  
Blogger Ada said...

If I recall correctly, the average Dutch woman is 5'9'' and the average Dutch man is 6'2''!!!

12:10 PM  
Blogger Å said...

wow... the rest of us are pygmies.

4:44 PM  

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