Surprisingly, there was a lot of reading and homework given to us there in Meknes, Morocco; it felt no different than the university back home. A well deserved break was definitely in order so I took up the opportunity to travel with some fellow classmates to Amsterdam.
Although I consider myself well-traveled and experienced, this was my first time touching down in Europe. It was one of the greatest getaways I have ever had, and it turned my life upside down in a way I never expected it to. Amsterdam taught me how to let go, let loose, smile, and have a good time. It also made me realize that I needed much more of that in my life.
The streets were clean and yet crazy fun, the architecture was beautiful and victorian like, and the people of the Netherlands were incredibly nice; something I wasn’t so used to experiencing.
There was music everywhere and people where dancing in the streets! The best Thai and Indian food I have ever had was in fact there in Amsterdam. The people of the Netherlands had style in their clothing and a prep in their step- leather, lace, and rock’n roll. It was a heaven on earth that I never knew existed, and I’m happy to say I fit right in. It was my first time in a place with so much freedom of expression, and the smiles and good vibes were contagious as you walked through the streets. Without knowing anyone, you could still have a good time.
In the heart of all the fun, there’s the oldest church in Amsterdam, The Oude Kerk. It looks like it’s straight out of the Gothic Victorian era. As you walk in, the floors are tombs of the dead and the chandeliers look like they were sent from the heavens. The organ is still played beautifully and the stained glass windows still hold their charm.
But, if there was one thing I will never forget while traveling through Amsterdam, it was walking through the house of where Anne Frank hid during the holocaust.
I identify ethnically as Ashkenazi Jew, among many other things. Walking through her hideout was very emotional for me. Being able to read pages from her book, to touch the walls, and to walk behind the bookshelf to see where her family hid for two years made my legs tremble. I looked around the room to see others casually walking by.
Since I was not able to take pictures inside, I held in every moment. My chest felt heavy as I struggled to breath from anxiety. The original steps inside the house were still available to climb and they were terribly narrow and small. We all walked through her house in silence and listened to the recording in each room, each one darker than the last. Despite the difficulty I held my bearing. It made me think twice about complaining about our lives today and how much worse it could actually be.
Even in her death her words live on, and they will forever. I may have been a soldier but I’m still a human being. Thus, after completing the walk through, I cried silently, away from my classmates who entered with me.
I didn’t find it appropriate to buy anything in the gift shop you come across once the museum tour is over. I did not even speak until I left the building entirely. I hit the cold air outside and I took a deep breath. The last part of the mission was taking a picture of the original door to the house. I succeeded in doing so and then the group was on our merry way.
I walked away from her house smiling because I felt like I experienced something I definitely felt like I was supposed to see. It taught me that it’s okay to have fun while I’m still here on this earth, and that it’s also okay to have a good time. And maybe that right there is what life is truly about.
Those moments in that house prepared me for what was to come next, as I will be taking the pilgrimage to walk through Auschwitz at a later time. But for now, it was back to having fun. Back to smiling, and back to dancing. Having fun with leather, lace, and rock’n roll. Thanks Anne.
Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.