It’s now been almost three weeks int o my time in the Netherlands and my group and I have reached our final destination, Amsterdam. And I have to admit that I am loving this city! I have seen and done so many things and can attest to the general perspective of Amsterdam as a liberal, diverse, and highly tolerant community. These attributes manifest themselves through the socio-cultural practices here in this city. We have been in the city now for about a week and have visited some very iconic spots here in Amsterdam including the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Rijks Museum of the History of Amsterdam. During these visits, I experienced a variety of emotions which were informed by my own social positions as a Black, female, US citizen and feelings of oppression that arrived specifically when visiting the Anne Frank House. In addition, I experienced feelings of community and understanding derived through forms of expression such as art and history. These can be shared and appreciated by a diverse group of people in society, and this was affirmed in the Rijks and Van Gogh museums.
One of the most engaging interactions I’ve had has been visiting the police department and chatting with the officers in Amsterdam. Unlike many other places in the world, at least that I know of, Amsterdam has a special unit within their police force called the “Roze en Blauw.” This group of officers caters specifically to the needs of the LGBTQ+ community. For example, if an individual from this community experiences any kind of assault, hate crime, or is subjected to any sort of criminal behavior as a result of their sexuality, this police force will help these individuals navigate their complaint. As the police and criminal justice institutions have not always been an “inviting” group for LGBTQ+ members around the world, the Roze en Blauw speaks to the progressiveness of Amsterdam and is one of the many admirable aspects of this community.
As my time in Amsterdam winds down, I have been able to reflect on various ways in which the US can learn from the progressive culture within the Netherlands. Of the inclusive policing practices, represented by forces like the Roze en Blauw. I look forward to returning home and writing my study abroad analysis paper and even more so, I am excited to share my experiences in detail with those of you who have a desire to travel abroad. I was initially quite hesitant to participate in this program but this was because I spent too much time considering all of the ways that it would not work out. This was unusual for me as I love to challenge myself, travel and experience new places and cultures but after talking with my fellow study abroad classmates, this is not an uncommon feeling to have. So, if you’re having doubts, I promise you will appreciate yourself if you choose to silence your anxiety and take advantage of the amazing opportunity to study abroad! This has truly been an experience of a lifetime and something you do not want to let pass you by. (: Talk to you again soon!