Home Claire A guest post from Claire {summer adventures in Europe}

A guest post from Claire {summer adventures in Europe}

by Shawni

Hi!

This is Claire and I had the opportunity to live in the Netherlands for a month this last summer.

My Month in The Netherlands

I had really mixed emotions going into this opportunity. I knew it was coming, (all my older siblings have lived abroad for part of their summer after their junior year) but I was still super nervous and did not know what to expect.

I became more excited the closer I got to the trip, I knew that even if I missed things with friends I’d be learning so much and I could have a little bit of a re-set with life. But maybe I was just talking myself into that. I was still scared!

Part of my “internship” responsibility is wrapping up my experiences in a blog post for my awesome, amazing Mom. So here I go (warning: a lot of pictures are coming up but they are so worth it;)

First let’s introduce my “Netherlands family.”

They are American but have been living in the Netherlands for over twenty years. Val and Christine are the mom and dad. They have one son who has moved away and is living in a different country so I never met him. Then they have two daughters, Ana who is just a little older than me and Lucy who is just a little younger than me, and then Martin, who is twelve.

That picture is from Brussels, and Ana couldn’t come with us on that trip, so here is anther picture of her with me and Lucy in Luxembourg:

We got to travel every week to a different country because where they live is so close to all these different countries. Which is pretty cool.

The dad, Val, writes books about traveling through Europe and his wife, Christine, does marketing for him, and that was what my internship was all about:

I helped by making blog posts and videos, social media posts all trying to help get the word out about those great books. He writes them to help more people learn about Europe.

(My mom wrote lots more about that and also linked the videos we made while I was there in this post back HERE, but also, you should check out their website because it tells the most information. It is HERE.)

We had FaceTime talks with the family before I got there, but I was kind of nervous to meet them in person.

What would they be like?

Would my personality be too weird for them?

Would I be able to find anything I liked to eat? I’m a really, super picky eater, or at least I used to be before I got there! (foreshadowing:)

What would their family and their house be like?

But I got on that plane and there was no going back!

Christine and Ana were there to meet me at the airport in Amsterdam.

As you can see there is a little bit of a height difference:)

We drove two and a half hours back to Maastricht where they live. I want to tell you about it.

All the roads were cobblestones like this, which kind of put bruises on my feet. But it was pretty!

Many Dutch houses have these red triangles on their windows which I really liked:

Every Friday they have a big street market where people sell things like flowers, food, clothes, etc.:

My Daily Schedule

Each day that we were home, I got up at 7:20 and ran through the streets.

I came home and had breakfast. This is a typical breakfast.

I really loved it.

The apple juice was really good.

Then we started work at 9:00 until 12:00.

We took a little break after that when I would write in my journal (another requirement of the internship) and I read too.

We would always do something in the afternoon, whether it was exploring the city, hiking, biking, even croquet sometimes. I really like how active that society is, they are really punctual and healthy always outside and riding bikes.

We had dinner at 6:00 each night. Christine and Ana are both really good cooks.

This is Ana’s pizza (it was so good!)

This is potatoes and eggs (I forgot what it’s called but it’s really good):

This was some Indian food that I need to get the recipe for:

I had been so worried about how picky I am but I loved every dish that they made!

This is just a house I liked in Maastricht, and also our bikes:

This was a pretty cool part of Maastricht where you could see these original walls from hundreds of years ago:

It used to be surrounded by walls but the population just kept getting bigger and bigger so pretty soon the walls were in the middle of the city.

I was so grateful that I got the opportunity to still go to church every Sunday.

It was in Dutch but there was also an English translator so I could understand and it was so interesting. It was a lot smaller than my ward at home but everyone was so friendly and kind.

There was this old church building that is now a bookstore with a little cafe inside where we got some hot chocolate and walked around and the architecture was insane.

And it was a BOOKSTORE!

I was super interested in the stop signs that looked a lot different than the typical stop sign in the United States:

This is 20 Euro…the type of money they use all over Europe:

During the first week I was in Maastricht, it rained for like 4 days straight with heavy rain which caused floods right next to us. We lived on a hill so we were safe but said so many prayers for those who were being evacuated just 10 minutes from us!

I am a super big fan of fries, so whenI saw a stand for “Frietz” (which is Belgian fries) I was all for it.

It’s very common to get them with mayonaise which I was very skeptical about but they turned out to be so good.

One day in Amsterdam

The first weekend we got to go back to Amsterdam (where I flew in a few days before).

We used it as an opportunity to promote some books:

I loved the canals that stretched across the city filled with boats and LOTS more bikes.

lWe tasted cheese, which I am not usually a huge fan of but I loved it.

(Notice the foreshadowing came true because I loved all the food there.)

I thought this teensy, tiny car was amazing:

We went to the Van Gogh Museum.

I didn’t know before that Van Gogh was Dutch!

I couldn’t take pictures of the art but it was so cool to see all the original art like Sunflowers that are so famous.

We also went to the Rijksmuseum that is such a famous landmark in Amsterdam.

We didn’t go inside but the gardens beside it were so beautiful.

One day in Bruges, Belgium

The next weekend we got to Bruges, Belgium. It was only two hours away from where I lived.

We had a picnic at this windmill:

I loved the old buildings and this architecture with those little steps going up on the top of the buildings:

And the colors:

We used the background to help promote other stories that were based in Belgium.

I felt like I was in a movie with the canals and boats and the narrow houses standing tall.

We also had amazing weather which was a huge plus.

This is the bell tower located in the city square in Bruges.

We got to actually walk up inside. I think there were 366 stairs!

This is what you see when you look up:

This is what you see looking down:

Dinner with the family:

I liked this little sign someone put up. I wish I would have taken a flower because I really needed one:)

Bruges Town Hall:

One Day in Germany

It took us thirty minutes to drive to Aachen, Germany the next week.

There was a mixture of different architecture from different time periods because during WWII so much was destroyed and had to be rebuilt.

I liked these more Gothic-style buildings:

I learned a lot about Charlemagne in Germany:

I felt pretty smart when I knew more about him than my parents when I got home:)

We got to visit his cathedral.

I loved the ceilings especially the central dome.

These are actual Rome arches from so many hundreds of years ago that are still standing:

I love the little alleyways in all the different countries. They all kind of look the same in many ways but had their own style.

One Day in Luxembourg

The next week we went to Luxembourg and actually stayed overnight there with the whole family (the other trips were just day trips).

Castle:

You can tell I’m getting kind of over writing this post. But I hope you are still liking it.

I can’t stop here because Luxemborg was my FAVORITE.

We went to dinner that overlooked the river and it was beautiful.

And so is Ana:)

We stayed overnight in a youth hostel that was really nice:

(Once again I was reminded I am a tall girl.)

We went inside the Vianden Castle the next day:

It is where the Counts of Vianden lived. Those guys helped have a big influence on what is modern Luxembourg today.

I thought these views from the castle were so cool:

Inside there were photographs of people who came to visit the castle over the years.

Another cool alleyway:

One Day in Brussels, Belgium

A couple days before I left to come home we took one last trip to Brussels.

We went to the Godiva chocolate shop:

Every shop in this little place is filled up with chocolate:

They had tubes coming out from all the stores with the smell of chocolate coming out of them to lure in visitors to buy their chocolate.

The main square in Brussels has the prettiest buildings:

We tested out the chocolate on BELGIUM waffles with BELGIUM chocolate (maybe it was actually just Nutella but I’m sure it was Belgium Nutella:)

The Musee Magritte Museum:

I loved these origami birds and the interesting art below:

But even more I loved the art work of René François Ghislain Magritte (who the museum was named after) who was born in Belgium.

This one is probably one of his most famous ones:

But I think this was my favorite:

I don’t know why, I think it’s so unusual and I like to interpret things.

Back to Maastricht, Netherlands:

I want to just finish up with the last of my time in Maastricht.

Martin was just finishing up his last year of elementary school, and there was a full week of parties for him that we all went to. Even though I couldn’t understand anything, it was so fun.

I don’t quite remember where this was taken, but look at that background! It makes me miss Maastricht and its pretty rivers.

We went on a hike through the pretty pastures where there were cows and a windmill at the end and had a picnic.

Some last times with Lucy:

I got in a few more runs around the neighborhood.

This is the spot I would run to every day:

We went to the American War memorial:

We fit in one more museum in Maastricht where we learned about the Mosasaurus (the fossils were found in Maastricht).

These canons are all along the ancient walls of Maastricht:

This was my last day with the Karren Family, right there at their front door.

I am forever grateful for them and how good they were to me.

I’m grateful that now I am the history expert in my family:)

I learned so much about other cultures.

I learned to count to ten in Dutch.

I collected all kinds of delicious chocolate to take home to my family.

I learned how to be away from my family, I missed them and became even more grateful for them.

I learned how to make videos and learned all about how to promote things like books.

I learned to love reading and writing so much more.

I am grateful for the friendships I made that I will always carry with me.

I am grateful for HOME after being gone so long.

We drove back to Amsterdam one more time, and watched the sunrise on the way:

And then I flew home.

As I look back on all these pictures (I warned you there would be a lot!) I cannot even believe I got to do all those things.

Click below for more links about summer in the Netherlands:

Learn about “Armchair Travel”

(on my host family’s website)

A Summer Internship for Claire

Claire’s videos about Amsterdam and Bruges

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18 comments

Jasmin August 16, 2021 - 1:38 am

Claire, what a wonderful post about your experience in Europe! It looks like you had an amazing time and learned so many new things!
Btw, the “stop” sign you wrote about is not the usual stop sign but one for cars/ vehicles to indicate that they cannot park in this area. Regular stop sign are the same as in the US (the octagon shaped red and white with a “stop” in the middle).

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Lea Lea Pisarik August 16, 2021 - 5:16 am

Awesome post! I really enjoyed hearing about your trip and seeing all of the beautiful pictures. What a fun trip and milestone in your life that you will always remember. Thanks for sharing!

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Amy August 16, 2021 - 6:47 am

Such a great experience for you! Thank you for sharing your experience and all of the pictures! You did a wonderful job of recapping the trip.

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Christine August 16, 2021 - 8:07 am

I love this post! So fun to hear it all from Claire’s perspective. ❤️

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Riina August 16, 2021 - 8:45 am

Ah, even tough I live in Europe, Finland, I obviously have not been doing any travel long in the past couple of years. This made me miss Brussels and Amsterdam and even Copenhagen and all the places!!

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JLSF August 16, 2021 - 10:01 am

Yes several of the photos reminded me of Copenhagen!

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Heidi August 16, 2021 - 11:11 am

Ooh what a great opportunity Claire! I loved reading about your time there !! Good for you!! What memories!!

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Libby August 16, 2021 - 3:30 pm

Thanks for this report on your internship. It sounds like an amazing growth experience for you on so many fronts.

I”m wondering if the origami cranes at the Magritte Museum were part of the 1,000 cranes for the August anniversaries of the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Here’s a link: https://teachpeacenow.com/resources/one-thousand-origami-cranes-sadako/

Did you learn why the Dutch put red triangles on their shutters? Inquiring minds want to know!

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Annelies August 18, 2021 - 2:24 am

Hi, the origami installation is located in the Fine arts museum (the Magritte museum is part of it) and is designed by a Belgian artist to gather funds for Covid related research: https://www.fine-arts-museum.be/en/exhibitions/origami-for-life

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Libby August 18, 2021 - 9:36 am

Thanks Annelies!

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Andrea August 16, 2021 - 3:39 pm

What an amazing opportunity! I’m so glad you’re sharing it with us! xx

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Julie August 16, 2021 - 11:28 pm

Great post. You did a really good job with it.

I’m so glad that you had such a great time there & also that you enjoyed the food. (I’m a really fussy eater too)

A special time to always remember.

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PS August 17, 2021 - 7:08 am

What beautiful photos! I really liked reading what “everyday life” was like as well . Sparks the imagination.

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Emily August 17, 2021 - 1:57 pm

Shawni

I ask this out of concern more than judgment. You’ve stated over the past few posts how hard it has been on Lucy to navigate high school. You knew it was going to be a huge transition. It is for most kids but especially for Lucy with her sight and big emotions. You said the first day did not go well so I’m really wondering why you thought it would be a Good idea to travel across the world to Europe and leave her after a few days into this huge transition? It seems like you can’t go more than a few weeks without hopping on a plane or driving to see your adult married kids. Maybe there is more to the story, but it just broke my heart thinking about it.

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Liz August 18, 2021 - 12:11 am

These were pictures from Claire’s (not Shawni) month long internship during the summer, before school started. Not Shawni, and not after school started.

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Shawni August 30, 2021 - 5:03 pm

Emily, I so appreciate your sweet concern for Lucy. (Liz, I think she’s talking about the trip we took with our married kids after school started, so much love to you for trying to help clarify). Just wanted to reassure you that Lucy’s well-being is at the center of pretty much every decision we make and this was a big one for us (especially at the beginning of school) that we put a lot of thought into. Rest assured that the arrangements we carefully made turned out to be the best possible thing for Lucy, and I’m so grateful! You’re right, you can bet there is always more to the story than you see in this little sliver on instagram or the blog.
xoxo

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Autumn Rivers August 17, 2021 - 7:24 pm

Thank you so much for sharing claire! This must have been such a wonderful experience for you. I myself have not gotten the opportunity to travel that much in my lifetime, but you sharing this post with me almost makes me feel as though I went on the trip with you! The architecture was truly fascinating, and I especially loved the central dome. Quick question: It must have been really hard for you to cope with the struggles of being away from your family. Who were some of the people you confused in in order to help with this big change?

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Autumn Rivers August 17, 2021 - 7:25 pm

Confided in*. Ha! Silly typo.

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