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Posted 23.05.16

Illustration student Steph Parnell reports back on Amsterdam ‘the city full of art culture’

By Steph Parnell

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

As part of our BA (Hons) Illustration programme, students visited Amsterdam – home to some of the largest collections of classical art including The Van Gogh Museum, The Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum – with the chance to explore the rich culture of the city.

From classical paintings and architecture to buckets of nutella, student Steph Parnell reviews the trip…

I love to travel so when the opportunity arose to take a trip to Amsterdam with the college for a great price, I jumped at the experience. I’d heard so many great things about Amsterdam.

We stayed in a hostel and when you hear the word ‘hostel’ it often fills people with dread, conjuring up visions of unclean bedrooms and slumming it for your stay.

Steph Parnell with fellow Illustration students enjoying the cold Amsterdam weather!

However, the hostel we stayed at was great, in fact one of the best I’ve stayed at. It had a good atmosphere and was central to pretty much everything – not that walking a fair distance was a problem since Amsterdam is pretty flat – no terrifying hills to climb just to get to a museum.

"I always find that getting yourself a little lost in a new place is the best way to truly experience it; you find the best places that way."

Amsterdam is full of art culture, from the Museums to the street art that you find along the way. If art is what you're looking for then there are plenty of museums for that.

Van Gogh has a museum all of his own, but it gets busy so go early. Rijksmuseum has a whole range of art throughout history and the Stedelijk Museum is for those that like their art more contemporary, although for me it was a little bit out there.

I always find that getting yourself a little lost in a new place is the best way to truly experience it; you find the best places that way.

The people we met were really nice and even stopped to offer directions. There were a lot of cyclists and some of them had a bit of a mean streak and seemed to take pleasure in scaring pedestrians!

Our lecturers ran a sketchbook project with us for the 4 days we were in Amsterdam.

Anne Frank's house is a must see, while caught up in the beautiful art and architecture it is easy to forget that the city was once scarred by the war and many of its citizens were hunted down and killed for their beliefs.

The museum documents the horrifying journey Anne Frank and her family embarked on during the war and the talented and wise writer she was for such a young age.

"If you spot someone eating bread with hundreds of thousands on it, don’t be alarmed; apparently that is a thing."

Of course being in Amsterdam it would have been rude not to see the red light district, it was an odd experience seeing women in windows all vying for attention.

Nowadays it’s a bit of a tourist attraction and we weren’t the only tourists there, with couple’s hand in hand pointing in shock, giggling women and groups of men young and old, all of them there to see why it is one of the most famous red light districts in the world.

We sketched every day whilst we were there and then our lecturers picked a winner for the best sketchbook.

If you like to experience new foods when you travel, then there is plenty around especially if you have a sweet tooth; they sell Nutella by the bucket (not even joking).

If you spot someone eating bread with hundreds of thousands on it, don’t be alarmed; apparently that is a thing.

There are even vegetarian only fast food restaurants and plenty of gluten free options, so if you have food intolerances or requirements there is plenty to chose from. On the other hand, if you like to stick to the familiar then there are plenty of those too.

My time in Amsterdam was great, we were given plenty of time to explore for ourselves, so you weren’t always in a massive group and it was great getting to know the other people on the course more.

Check out Steph’s work here.