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Bagels & Bugs - Amsterdam rules!

Occasionally, while studying at college, you may get the opportunity to go on a trip with your fellow students, whether it be in the UK, abroad, for one day or for one week. As a CSW, this opportunity also crossed my path.

A student that I regularly support on a further education course, recently had the opportunity to go to Amsterdam for 4 days. She had no doubts that she wanted to go so the college organised the right support with us at Deaf Umbrella and there I was being asked if I wanted to support the student on the trip – absolutely I did! What a great experience this would be for the student (and I).

We travelled by coach and caught the train to Calais where we continued our drive through France, Belgium, finally into The Netherlands and on to Amsterdam. That evening, we headed into Central Amsterdam to catch a canal boat tour.

We discovered this is the second-best way to travel in Amsterdam, the first being by bicycle. As we cruised, we came to realise Amsterdam is a city of interconnecting canals with very narrow roads and tall, thin buildings, hence, the bicycle and boat being the best ways to travel around the city centre. We cruised past ancient buildings, museums, an opera house, restaurants and interesting shops. It was clear that the city is busy and vibrant with plenty to do and see. We were in for a big challenge to see as much as possible in a few days.

Day two turned out to be an exhausting but fantastic day. The student I was supporting went into a smaller group that rode a tram to Museumplein – or in English, Museum Square. We spent the day visiting 3 different museums. The first was the Van Gogh museum. It was incredible to see Van Gogh’s work in the flesh and read about his influences and life story. Interestingly, he was mainly influenced by Japanese art and owned many Japanese prints that inspired his paintings. He loved the vibrant and bold colours and the unusual views of landscapes without a horizon.

The Deaf student was so fascinated that she got a little too close while reading a description and set off a sensor alarm on one of his famous self-portraits. That was an intense conversation to interpret! Security were understanding though and gave a polite warning.

Everyone took a break in a café which had an interesting menu. It served bagels with a wide variety of fillings: cream cheese, hams, salad, salmon, bugs – yes that’s right, bugs! The student, her group of friends and I decided to order one to share as we just had to try it. Mealworms, crickets and a large grasshopper filled the bagel. No one was brave enough to eat the grasshopper but we all tried a bit of the rest and it was surprisingly delicious – just like eating crispy bacon bits!

Once we’d had our fill of bugs (and some ordinary food) the group got back to the museums. Next on the list was the Stedelijk museum full of modern and contemporary art. There were definitely some interesting art forms, including a room full of furry monsters watching TV and singing Karaoke. On the other hand, there were forms of art which to some may be fascinating but to me, confusing, such as a video of a someone ripping out pages of a book – weird!

Last on the agenda was the Modern and Contemporary (Moco) museum which was holding a Banksy exhibition and a Roy Litchenstein exhibition. The Deaf student I was supporting was most excited about this one as she loves Banksy’s work and I must say I feel the same way.

Under the name ‘Banksy’, still to this day, his identity is unknown. He has produced famous controversial street art around the world, some of which has been taken down and put on show in this exhibition. His art certainly sparks many feelings and gets you thinking about what goes on in the world.

Roy Litchenstein, however is from the Pop art era and his work catches the eye quite dramatically with his bold blocks of colour, thick outlines, dots and stripes.

On day 3, we took the coach to Bottrop, Germany where we spent the day riding roller-coasters in Movie Park – the student I supported was happy to ride all the big coasters so naturally I had to accompany her on all the rides (yay!). Unfortunately, at 2pm it started to rain and didn’t stop so we took shelter in a fast-food restaurant and waited until it was time to leave.

The last day involved a quick trip to the Foam museum of photography and then the long journey back to the college and home.

What a great trip and fantastic experiences for everyone involved. The Deaf student expressed how much she enjoyed the time away and that she would do it again in a heartbeat.

As a CSW, I thoroughly enjoyed supporting a Deaf student on a college trip and also had a great time myself. I would certainly do it again!


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