Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Home bound, June 22 (Day 22)

I only had a 2 hours sleep for obvious reasons, but was on time to for our planned departure time of 7:00 am. the mood was not the usual high and bubble this morning but had a look of contention as we rolled our bags into the Taxis that had been called to convey us to the airport. Although we all talked about the layover that we were going to have in Detroit but nobody really wanted to talk about it, for me i could think of an extra complication of going through immigration on getting to the USA but felt mentally prepared for it. On getting to the airport we all went to get our boarding pass and i got mine out pretty fast and had to wait for the others. We all got our passes cleared customs and immigration in Netherlands pretty easy and got on the plane, it was a pretty smooth flight back to the US and i even had time to watch Les Miserable and hangover 2 before landing. I was surprised immigration wasn’t the nightmare I had anticipated neither was clearing customs as someone’s bag had to be rechecked because she had an apple but everything went extra smooth with me. We got to the waiting area and we all started passing time by getting busy anyway we deemed fit, however the mood changed a little when we heard we were going to be further delayed another 2 hours because the plane did not have enough passengers. At the end of the day we left Detroit and got to Nashville in one tired peace. We all said our goodbyes with smiles on our faces as our loved ones helped us whisk our bags into our cars and off we left with the memories of the 3 great European cities and the lifelong friends we had made in our 3 weeks journey. Thanks TNCIS for this beautiful opportunity.

Final Museum day and the showers of blessing, June 21 (Day 21)

The trip was gradually coming to an end and It was no surprise to me that the showers of blessing would be opened to me, I felt the little umbrella I had bought in Paris was going to be my saviour but I was in for a rude awakening when my umbrella turned the wrong way. Well that still did not stop me from going out that day, I took the tram this time since I knew I didn’t have time to walk around because I knew i wanted to get to as many museums as possible plus i had a free pass anyway. My first stop was the Anne Frank house, the queue at the house was so long and the rain was pouring, it took almost forever for me to get in. From there I went straight to the Amsterdam museum which was a rich history of how Amsterdam was founded, how the city was built, their economic prosperity, the invasion by the Spanish invasion, the revolution that sent back the Spanish and how they started rebuilding their economy again, the French invasion by Napoleon, the Nazi invasion during ww 2, how the Dutch tried to stand up for the Jews during the Nazi occupancy of Netherlands, the Anne Frank story, the end of the war and liberation of Netherland, Dutch tolerance and their argument for tolerating cannabis. From there I went to the Van Gogh museum, a collection of Van Gogh’s arts in a four story building, it states how Van Gogh started his works and had to train himself to learn about perspectives in art, because it didn’t come natural to him, his experiments with colors and how people he met changed the way he paints, the sad part was he died without having kids to inherit the royalties for his paintings. From there I wanted to go to the Rijksmuseum, but I wasn’t ready to pay to go into any art museum with the amount of paintings i had seen in the last 3 weeks that wasn’t just going to happen.
In the evening I went for the Heineken experience which was worth every cent I paid and three glasses of freshly brewed Heinekens beer, the only sad part was I couldn’t go retrieve my gift from there gift store because i had to come back to the hostel in time for dinner and the canal cruise that was to follow. The canal cruise was an exciting ride as we got to see Amsterdam from the canals.
The night was a mixture of excitement and feeling of leaving people and places you have grown attached to but every good thing must have an end and for this beautiful trip the end was here.

Winding down, June 20 (Day 20)

I spent the day conducting interviews at accent store, Puma and Nike store. There really wasn’t much to do today so I just killed time by walking around the city a bit before coming back to the hostel to start a short term relationship with my bed, I slept for about 2 hours before my class had to meet for the next activity of the day. At 5:30 pm we met with Zoe d’Amaro, a seasoned marketing consultant who had worked with most of the big companies like, Nike and Addidas ads and knew the ropes around there marketing campaign and strategy. She eventually decided she wanted to make ads, jingle and documentaries to address the social ills especially in Europe, with that decision she partnered with one of her friends and formed Godmother Films. Since it had been formed the company had been formed it has partnered with some of the most socially aware organizations such as green peace to create ads that would make big brand names consider their actions and make amends. It was a good experience to hear from someone who creates “Hijacked marketing ads” or “cultural jamming” as she calls it. I came back to start packing my bags because I could hear the drums rolling for the end of the trip. After I felt satisfied with how i had packed, I went out that night and turned up knowing the next day was a free day for me.

Homeward bound, June 22, 2013

      Packed and ready to go, I headed downstairs to the lobby, dreaming of everything I want to do when I get home. I already have it planned out: shower, sleep, fruit salad. Yes, I had my dad make fruit salad for when I get home.
This whole trip has been amazing and I can’t believe I have been able to experience travelling to three different European cities. I’ve had so much fun and I’ve learned valuable things along the way. The reality of my trip far exceeded my expectations. The museums were incredible, the cultural immersion was stimulating, and the memories were unforgettable. I would advise international travel to anyone and everyone. I think it’s something that everyone should do given they are provided the opportunity.
I’ve had so many experiences on this trip, but I have to say my favorite thing was going to the Louvre in Paris. The Louvre is an incredible museum, and there are so many priceless works of art throughout the building. I wish I could have stayed longer, but the time I spent in the Louvre was great. Seeing timeless artwork in person is so mind-blowing. My other favorite experiences were going to the Eiffel Tower, walking through the various parks in each city, and biking through Rotterdam. I even enjoyed the metro system in Paris, even though it was frustrating at first.
I hope I get another chance to travel. Not too soon, though, I miss home enough to where I want to stay settled in for a while before I travel again. This experience has been eye-opening and life changing. Travelling with TnCIS has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my whole life. 

Last full day in Amsterdam, June 21, 2013

The beginning of my day started off with an exam. It was a stressful start to my day, but after I finished my test, I was relieved and ready for the rest of my day. I was especially ready because it was my last full day in Amsterdam.
Everyone was scheduled to take a canal tour of Amsterdam at night, and we were all looking forward to it. On the tour, we saw plenty of significant parts of Amsterdam, and heard facts about the city as well. My favorite part of the canal tour was passing by all the little houseboats. These houseboats were incredibly tiny, but also charming. I myself could never live in a boat. I thought this was something that was unique about Amsterdam and added extra character to the city.
The canal tour was also a great way to bond one last time with the whole group. Everyone was laughing and having a good time. It’s a great feeling to share so much excitement with so many other people. After we were done with touring, our groups split up and scattered about town. My group ended up going to Crystal, which was a restaurant that served the best pizza ever. Seriously, this pepperoni pizza was amazing. I don’t even care for pepperoni that much.
Tomorrow we leave Europe and head home. I’m excited to go, but I’m sure that I will miss Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam. 

Godmother Films, June 20, 2013

      Plans for the day today consisted of listening to a guest speaker. Her name was Zoe D’Amaro and she worked in Advertising. She had done quite a few projects, such as commercials for Greenpeace and a few documentaries. Zoe explained that she was heavily involved in activism and she incorporated much of that into her work. But, for money’s sake she had to work for commercial purposes as well. I thought she was a very interesting presenter, and I loved her presentation. Out of all the guest speakers we’ve had on this trip, Zoe was my favorite for sure. I thought her Greenpeace commercial mimicking the Dove commercials was incredible. She and her crew did a wonderful job replicating the style and getting their point across. As an activist myself, it was inspiring to see someone taking their passion and making a living out of it.
The rest of my day was free, so after dinner, I went out with the group and hung out. We went to a local pub and sat down for a while and chatted. We had planned on going in Paradiso, because it seemed really cool from the outside. Paradiso is a night club that is inside an old church. The aesthetic was really neat, but we ended up deciding against it. My group and I just ended up talking together for the rest of the night. This was fine with me, because I love the friends that I have made on this trip. The travelling was amazing itself, but making friends totally makes the entire trip so much better. I have made so many great memories with these people, and I can’t imagine myself not staying in touch with them. I am going to miss them once this trip ends. Hopefully we’ll have lots of time together on our last days in Europe. 

Flight Home - June 22

Sadly after an amazing three weeks, it was closing time for our trip.  Dr. V told us to be downstairs at 7:00 for taxis to take us to the airport.  We all packed the night before so two of us in the room set our alarms for 6:00.  This would all give us some time to get ready, finalize our packing, and still give us some breathing room for some fruit and start saying our goodbyes.  Unfortunately that didn’t happen because both of us turned off our alarms without hitting snooze and all of us overslept until 6:40, leaving us 20 minutes to get ready, finalize our packing and get downstairs.  We ended up getting down there at 7:05 and were the last group to leave.  Not our finest moment but I was still impressed we could get ready that quickly considering the circumstances. 
The 10-hour flight actually flew by pretty quickly (no pun intended), though the long layover in Detroit was brutal.  It did give us all a good chance to say goodbye and appreciate the times we had.

Museum Day - June 21

The weather has been fantastic for us during our three weeks in Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam.  So it really came as no surprise and with no sense of disappointment that it poured rain on our free day in Amsterdam, the last full day on our trip.  We've been spoiled so we couldn't really complain about it. 
We started out the day by going to the Van Gogh Museum, which houses the largest collection of Van Gogh exhibits in the world.  This includes 200 paintings, 400 drawings, and 700 letters.  Not all were on display when we went as the Kurokawa wing was closed.  The museum also houses paintings of Van Gogh’s contemporaries.  I found it interesting that you could take pictures for the majority of art in the building but the famous ones you could not.  That is parallel from when I was in New York City and took a picture near one of his most famous paintings, Starry Night. 
Going through the Van Gogh Museum took us almost two and a half hours and then we went to a nearby café for lunch.  Our day was quickly going by and we knew we had to be at the Amsterdam Dungeon by 5:00 since that was the last time a show started and it was the only request one of my friends had.  Despite our time crunch, we decided to go to the Rijksmuseum after lunch, which is right near the Van Gogh Museum.
Unfortunately our trip didn't serve justice as we only had about an hour in the museum once we waited in line.  However we were able to see the Rembrandt collection, which was very impressive.  After the Rijksmuseum, our day turned from classical art to a fun learning experience when we went to the Amsterdam Dungeon.  This place was not a museum in any way, but rather an informative attraction that details dark times in the city back in the 16th-18th centuries.  The highlight was at the end where there was a roller coaster within the building.  The girls were scared and the guys laughed.
Our Amsterdam experience ended with a great canal ride after dinner.  We were able to look around the city from a different perspective other than walking.  Everyone really enjoyed it and took a lot of pictures.


Today we got to do one of the most fun things so far on this trip. We got to go on a bike tour of Rotterdam. It took about an hour to get there, and once we got there, we went straight to the bike rental shop. I hadn't been on a bike in at least two years, so it took me a while to get the hang of it. Riding a bike in Rotterdam seems to be a lot different than Amsterdam; everything's moving a lot slower. First we went on a oat tour which was about an hour long. It was of the biggest port in Europe and one of the oldest. After the boat tour, we went to the top of some building where we got a panoramic view of Rotterdam, we were almost as high as the empire state building. We then went and took a tour of the Lake in Rotterdam. On our way there, me and Tonya got left behind by Dr. V and we had to find our way back. I was so frustrated by the time we caught up to them that I had to get some ice cream to calm down. Even though I was exhausted and sore by the time the day was over, riding a bike in Rotterdam was one of the best things we had done so far.


Today we didn't have to wake up as early (thankfully), we had class from noon to 2pm, where we discussed marketing segmenting and branding. I found this to be one of the more interesting topics of the book because it is fascinating to see what lengths and strategies companies will go through to target their audience. After we had class, we went out to explore one of the biggest street markets I have ever seen. I was hesitant to try a fallafel, but after a free sample, I was sold. While eating lunch, we met a older woman who complained about living in Amsterdam. She told us that what we were seeing was a facade and it was all fake. She said everything was not as legal as it seemed, and there was limited political and social freedom in Holland. I found this to be quite interesting, because most people have the perception that Amsterdam is wild, free, and liberal. The talk made me look at Amsterdam a little bit differently, and not to take everything for face value.After we left lunch, we walked around the market some more, and went back to the hostel. I'm excited because we're supposed to be going to Rotterdam tomorrow.


Today we had an expected wake up call at 6:45 in order to tour one of the world's largest flower shops. Although it was extremely early in the morning, I was more than curious to see what all the hype was about. After about a 15 minutes tram ride and a short walk, we arrived at the flower shop. I didn't understand a lot of what was going on; one because I was so tired, and two because it was very complicated and intense. What we learned was that this was one of the largest flower bidding markets in the world. Companies like Walmart, Home Depot, and other businesses hire buyers to come and bid on the flowers for their company. It was a large building, and there were beautiful flowers everywhere. Our tour guide was very helpful and informed us of all the logistics and complicated measures that go into the buying, bidding, and selling of the flowers. After the tour was over, me and Kelli went to get something to eat, and we almost got left by Dr. V. Once we got back to the hostel, we took naps, and went out exploring Amsterdam. I find this city to be very amusing. There are a lot of interesting people, and we are lucky to be located right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle.

Bye Amsterdam: Day 22: Saturday June 22, 2013

Finally, the trip is over, we had to leave for the United States back. It was an interesting experience so that I wished it never come to an end yet. By 7am in the morning, I was ready for the airport and it was so sad that we had to leave without having breakfast. We took the taxi to the airport and we board the plane to the US at about 9.50am. It was an over 7 hours flight to Detroit, Michigan. I was glad that the airplane is better than the one we boarded to Paris because everyone could watch their movies individually.
Though, I was sleepy but the movie I found on board is very interesting that I had to select two good movies to watch during the journey. After I had finished watching the first movie titled “The Silver linings playbook”, I took a nap for some minutes. I later watched the second movie and had a smooth flight to Detroit. We landed at exactly 1.26pm local time and I was a little bit worried that we are going to have a layover of about seven hour to board our flight to Nashville.
It was frustrating staying at the boring Detroit airport for more than eight hours. We are scheduled for a flight of 9.52pm but it was later delayed to 11:15pm. The most annoying part of the whole scenario is that the plane to take us is ready whereas there is no flight crew and pilots on ground. At last, the crews arrived and we departed Michigan only to arrive at Nashville International airport at 12 mid-night. I got home very tired, ate and go to bed immediately.

Amsterdam Rainy Day: Day 21: Friday June 21, 2013

Today is our last day in Amsterdam and the final moment of our study abroad at the three great European capitals. I planned to step out by 9am to proceed to visit the museums I wanted to see but it was rainy cat and dog and I couldn’t set out as planned. Eventually, the rain reduced and I decided to structure my plan together with Kay’s plan since we wanted to see two museums in common. We decided to start the excursion at Anne Frank’s house but as we stepped out of the tram the rain becomes heavier that Kay’s little umbrella couldn’t work again. I had to return to the hostel back to pick my rain poncho because it’s going to rain all day.
I had to restructure my plan for the day, left the hostel back by some minute past 12pm. I started my excursion at the Amsterdam museum where I spent about two hours listening and reading about the history and origin of Amsterdam. It was very interesting to see a camera that displays some pictures of some significant places in Amsterdam some century ago and the same place in 1999. The transformation is huge. I was also thrilled by the DNA of Amsterdam and the exhibition room. It was very nice to understand the culture and nature of Amsterdam people.
However, I couldn’t meet up Kay again and didn’t see any member of the Tncis group at the Amsterdam museum. I left for the Van Gogh museum to see the wonderful art works of this famous artist. I spent about an hour to see all the art works. I decided to take the same stairways from the third floor down to the ground floor maybe I could meet Kay coming in. fortunately, as I was getting to the ground floor I met him coming inside and I had to see all the art works again from the beginning again with him. I had to spend another one hour. After which we left for the hostel and decided to go back for the Heineken experience.
Again, on our way going Kay decided he needed to get some souvenirs that he will meet me at the Heineken experience venue and we missed each other the second time. I had to leave back because I won’t be able to complete the experience and meet up for dinner and the Amsterdam canal cruise schedule for the night. On my way back to the hostel, I decided to play chess at in front of the complex nearby the Holland casino. I meet a man called Cisse and we played chess together. I was so glad I beat him that he had to resign and everybody there wanted to play with me but I had to return to the hostel because it’s time for dinner. We ended the day with a nice boat canal cruise round the city of Amsterdam and really enjoy the boat ride.

Godmother Films: Day 20: Thursday June 20, 2013

Today, my plan was to complete my research work in Amsterdam by getting my remaining interviews done before the presentation by a film producer scheduled for 5:30pm in the evening. I spent some time to write some of my previous blog before going out at 11am for my research. I left the hostel with Kay again with the hope of find some alcoholic beverages store the way as he preceded to the already mapped our sport retail stores.
We went to some sport retail stores together but as he entered into Puma store, we agreed to slit so that I go ahead to the nearby wine store. Unfortunately, we didn’t see each other again through the trip until we met back at the hostel. I visited another Gall and Gall wine store and conducted interview with the store manager. I then walked about 50 meters up to another liquor and wine store which has been in existence for the past 22 years. After I left the store, I walked around dam square maybe I could find another liquor or wine retail store but all to no avail.
I returned to the hostel at about 3.40pm and get myself ready for the presentation scheduled for the evening. The presenter is an Underground filmmaker named Zoe D'Amaro. She was originally from Italy. She narrated how they started the Godmother films, her experience and some of the works they are doing such as documentaries, commercials and branded contents and so on. She also showed us some of the video of their commercials and wasn’t able to show other online because Stayokay’s internet messed us up. It was very interesting to see the creative and wonderful work and her determination to change the world through the media. She recommended for us to watch on their website other commercials that we didn’t have the opportunity to see during the presentation. Finally, I had to interview one of the receptionists at the hostel for my Amsterdam nationality interview.