I had the honor of attending the first Flowers and Photography study abroad, hosted by Dr. Julie Campbell and Dr. Jessica Holt. For my blog posts, I will be doing an overview of what we did in each country and reflection.

We arrived in Amsterdam on May 13, 2023. Our first stop was Keukenhof Gardens, which is know for their tulips and visited by 1.4 million people annually. Although the tulips were damaged earlier in the week due to storms, they were still beautiful. We visited the garden on the last day they were open to the public. Our tour guide gave us insight into the efforts needed to make Keukenhof ready for the public starting next March. I enjoyed getting to see the beauty of the flowers and visiting one of the most visited gardens in The Netherlands.

The next day our group visited the Rijksumuseum, in Amsterdam. The Sleeping Beauty stone statue is what stood out to me, because the way they displayed the story was so well written. The Night Watch painting, which is said to be the most well-known painting at the museum was undergoing some restorations. It was being worked on by a robotic machine, which was interesting to see how they can work on these pieces without moving them. Our next group activity was a canal cruise around Amsterdam, which was one of my favorite things, because we got a general idea of where everything was a see important landmarks which we otherwise would not have. I also liked this cause we ended up doing a canal tour in the majority of the cities we visited. We concluded the night with our welcome dinner, which was a nice way to get to talk with people which you otherwise did not know, while being able to have some down time as a whole group.

On day 3, we visited Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, one of the world’s oldest botanical gardens. I liked activity we had for this garden. We split into three groups and got time to have instruction from Dr. Holt about photography, Dr. Campbell about horticulture, and Dean Place. Afterward we got the opportunity to explore the garden on our own. I think this was one of my favorite gardens we visited, because the had one building which housed the different environments. As we walked through this one building we went through a tropical environment to a desert environment, I thought it was impressive to see how they used this relatively small piece of land in the middle of the city to create this impressive space.

On day 4, we walked around the floating flower market as it opened. In the afternoon, we visited Anne Frank’s house. I thought Anne Frank’s house was very impactful. Although I had learned about Anne Frank, just getting to see the space in person was so impactful. At the end of the tour, a short video was playing displaying quotes and a vlog perspective on her journals. There was a quote about Anne Frank wanting to become a famous writer, although she achieved her dream she did not get to see the impact her writing had on the world.

Our next stop was Delft, which ended up being my favorite city we visited. On the way there we stopped at Aalsmeet, the largest flower auction in the world. I thought it was very entertaining to see how the system was all on tracks and people were driving carts to move the flowers. Our next stop was the beautiful Dummen Orange, a rose production facility. Dummen Orange had a wide variety of the most perfect roses I had seen.

On our first full day in Delft, we visited Delft University of Technology’s Botanical Gardens. The tour guide focused on issues they were having due to the city wanted to take over the land and how they are able to secure the land with regulations. The next day we traveled to Rotterdam to visit Syngenta, a company who sells seedlings to commercial producers. This was another favorite of mine, because seeing all the machines work in harmony was mesmerizing. Our tour guide was one of the nicest people we meet and told our wonderful stories about his career path. (My featured image is from our tour of Syngenta.) Later in the day we visited a rooftop garden which produced edible flowers and goods to sell to local companies.

I think one thing which made Delft my favorite was our free day. We happened to have a free day when they were having a market so we got to get unique souvenirs and interact with locals. Locals in Delft shared stories about their town and seemed interested in where we were from. Before I even knew it our time in The Netherlands was over. I learned a lot about the horticulture industry and local culture. I was starting to build new friendship and create lasting memories.