Monday we finally got into Rotterdam! We were told this city would be more modern than the others because it was bombed during WW II, and therefore the city had to be rebuilt. The skyline here is filled with tall skyscrapers, buildings that appear to be leaning too much, and public art that makes you stop and stare. I wonder what the Netherlands would look like if the the entire country could be redesigned. Would it look more like Rotterdam, with large buildings and swanky architecture? Maybe they would build up like Japan and save space?
I wonder what countries in the Middle East will look like when the wars and disasters are over. One day they, like Rotterdam, will have to rebuild and redesign their entire country infrastructure. I wonder what role designers will have in a situation like that, and I hope if designers are involved, they do a good job.
Monday evening we also toured the Willem de Kooning Academy school, which is essentially an art school here in the Netherlands. When I say art school, I’m equating it to SCAD, RISD, PRATT and those type of arts school back home. However, as I understand it, American art schools teach technical skills while European art schools focus on the concept. Thursday night we’re looking at the student final exhibition, so I’m excited to see what the seniors did for their finals!
Both of these situations have me thinking about my future. Being so close to graduating, everyone is asking the question, “have you thought about grad school?” The answer is yes. Although, I do think I want to work a year or two before going back, and maybe I’ll go to another country for school. I also think that whatever I decide, I want to live abroad for at least a year. All the things we have done so far on this trip have also made me consider learning more about research design. I like being able to design for a good purpose. I like being able to say that design is as important as engineering. I like being able to think through social issues with design.
Tuesday we took the train from Rotterdam, Netherlands to Antwerp, Belgium. Antwerp central station is impressive, with two floors of trains. You read that correctly, there were a total of three floors, with the last two being train platforms. As impressive as the station was, the way-finding system in the city was not. We ended up getting lost for an hour looking for the tram! Eventually a nice, local man came over after he saw us meandering around and helped us get to the tram station.
Fun fact about me: I’m claustrophobic. Fun fact about the city: the tram is underground. Luckily, we only had to ride the tram for two stations. Unluckily, one of the girls in our group didn’t get on the tram when everyone got on, so we lost her for a bit. These stations are aggressive, you gotta push and go or get left behind.
The main reason for coming to Antwerp was to visit the Plantin-Moretus Museum, which is a type museum. I’ve often been told that knowledge can be gained from any experience, so even thought it was less exciting than the Meeramanno, I would say I learned something new. For example, go to Microsoft Word on your computer and type something using the font Garamound. That font was carved by someone years ago. And then Plantin, the man who owned the type-foundry where the museum now stands, bought all of those carving and molds, so his type-foundry was the only one using that font. I think that’s interesting.
After the museum, we went to visit an old church. It was beautiful, the amount of detail that people put into the churches is astonishing. I think these Northern European countries are more Protestant than the Southern countries, but the Catholic church definitely left its impact. Many of the old Catholic churches were turned into Protestant churches, but Belgium is half French, so maybe that’s why this one was still Catholic.
After almost missing our train back to Rotterdam, we got home exhausted. Safe to say international traveling is quite an ordeal.