July 13, 2014
Today we traveled by Thalys Train from Paris, France to Amsterdam, Netherlands. This was an experience that was new to some of the students. The hustle and bustle of getting from the Aloha Hostel to the Metro in Paris was not so bad this morning even at 7 am. Everyone was awoke, dressed, and ready to go on time. Of course there were a few adjustments that had to be made to get us all to the train station on time. We traveled in groups to the station and it depended on who the professor was as to which group we were in. Once we arrived at the train station we were welcomed by an escalator instead of stairs. This to me was a blessing. I did not pack a large amount of clothes or shoes, but what I did pack was heavy enough.
Once on the train it was very relaxing as I did not have to worry about getting on or off the train until we reached our final destination, Amsterdam. The train made a few stops but did not stay at either station but a few minutes. Anyone traveling with Dr. V should listen when he says don’t get off the train; don’t get off as you might just very well get left. Upon our arrival to Amsterdam we had a beggar begging for money for his friend to go back to Poland to see his poor ole mum. He was obnoxious and would not go away. Take it from me, sometimes it is best to ignore people like this that just want to cause distractions and gain access to your money, but today a few of us could not take it anymore. The final straw for me was he was asking for his friend and not for himself. I spoke up and asked him why he did not give his friend the money to go back to Poland. He said he had given him a few Euros and if our entire group did the same he could have the 50€ he needed to get there.
Wow, he did not know how to take no for an answer because he said the group had not said no. I told the group, everyone at the count of three say “NO”! One, Two, Three….”NO” came out of everyone’s mouth at the same time. It was priceless. We all laughed and he still did not leave. It was not long after this when we received our ticket for the Tram and we were off. Riding the Tram was good because we did not have to lug our suitcases throughout the city. Walking through Amsterdam on cobblestone roads you have to be careful because pedestrians do not have the right of way. Bicycles, Trams, and cars have the right away and pedestrians just have to get in where they fit in.
Remember this when you are in another country you have to obey the law of the land in that country and not the United States. I love being an American and I hope that everyone who is on this study abroad trip returns home with a new found appreciation for their families, their schools, their jobs, but most importantly their country.