Since I passed out from pure exhaustion and lack of sleep in the previous 36 hours, I woke up quite refreshed albeit a little later than I wanted. After leaving Utrecht around noon, I had a nice conversation with a stranger (who happened to be a pastor who felt bad for me carting my backpack around).
Since I had access to the Internet and Simone’s local know-how , I knew how to take public transit to my hotel (a cheaper alternative and really convenient). As a hostel newbie, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Basically, it was like my Pearson room (first year)- tiny space shared with four other girls.
As I had late delicious breakfast of croissants filled with cheese and ham, I opted for the food of the people when I got into central Amsterdam- a hot dog! Since I was going to have dinner with a local (my friend Sam from Pearson and then McGill), I needed to keep it light. However, after following the wrong sign (again!sigh…), I opted instead to get some coffee (or koffee for the locals- basically espresso) and read for a bit before I subjected myself to the elements in the insanely long Anne Frank Huis line.
It was freezing. I felt time go backward. Things were made worse when I was about 10 minutes from the entrance, a bird pooped on me. Thankfully, it was on the edge of my waterproof pleather jacket, and I had tissues with me. After an hour of waiting, during which the line behind me was longer than when I joined it, I got to go in.
It’s a very simple albeit powerful memorial. I had read the book as a young girl, probably the same age as Anne (pronounced as Anna) when she started her diary. As an adult, having learnt the history and dissected the activities, rationale and aftermath of the war, I was definitely overwhelmed- both intellectually and emotionally. Echoing through my mind was the words of one of the speakers at an apologetics conference I attended recently: “Human beings do this to other human beings”. It’s not just Dutch history or German history or even European history but is human history. This is our collective pain and sorrow. While we don’t need to be tethered to the past through strings of dehabilitating guilt, we need to remember.
After the heaviness of my visit to the Anne Frank Huis, I was glad to meet up with my friend Sam, who’s always a good time. As we walked to dinner, we discussed as a native European, how it is to be surrounded by the past at every turn. Tucking into some very authentic Dutch food at this very homey restaurant, we took the time to catch up on what was going on in each others personal lives and careers. UWCers (and my fellow Pearson College year 31s in particular) make me feel so alive as the conversations tend to go all over the place while still getting to very deep places (like spirituality and purpose). Again, a perfect end to the day.