Monday, August 30, 2010

Amsterdam Arrival

So after over 7 hours 3,500 miles on a cramped United flight, I finally arrived in Amsterdam this morning at around 7AM local time. The weather has been pretty messy here as of late and brought light rain and 50 degree weather at the start of the day. Perhaps the biggest culture shock of all was just how week the dollar is compared to the Euro with most places exchanging $.68 to a Euro.

The cab ride to our hotel was by far more frighting than the plane ride. After leaving the airport we were approached by two guys who were battling to get fares from all of the tourist arriving. When in transit, they decided to make small talk which basically consisted of asking us if we liked marijuana and cocaine. Amsterdam after all if a "free" city. After a rather pricey cab ride we got to our hotel safely and checked in and to our surprise, ended up right next door to WoZoCo housing, which we have learned about several times in school for their efficient housing plan and colorful exterior.

We managed to get out long enough to walk down one of the waterways to a smaller park here that has a pier. Weather is just too unpredictable today. It goes from a cold rain to sun in no time at all. The wind continues to blow constantly making holding an umbrella tough. I'm on the western half of the city with more residential housing but hope to move into the city tomorrow to look at some of the different buildings. The jet lag continues to be the main problem in getting motivated so hopefully a good nights rest will do wonders. Sleeping laying down happens a lot quicker and unexpected than sitting straight up on an airplane. I hope to have a longer right up tomorrow, but for right now I'll say that Amsterdam is a very interesting place.

Amsterdam West Pier

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Journey Begins

Months of waiting and a whole lot of money later, the much anticipated study abroad session is upon us. The first half of my forth year at Virginia Tech will take place exclusively in Europe. When it is all said and done, I will have backpacked through eight different countries, flown on five different planes, hours across the rail and too much time in buses.

Sunday will be the official departure date and Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is the first city on the agenda and will be followed by Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, England, Spain and Italy.

I'm looking forward to seeing the different types of architecture that range from the new age technological structures to the monolithic structures that have stood the test of time. From the Duomo to the Therme Vals nothing will go undocumented in pictures, sketchs and watercolors. The people, the places, the culture and the language will all play a part in this new experience and can be a little daunting to think about.

But here we go...