Almere and Oostvaardersplassen

Today we visited IJburg and the floating houses. The floating houses were all unique and colorful, each with their own style. When we were looking at the houses, the sunrise was beautiful except for when Hoeksema attempted to drive up the curb. We then drove to Almere, which seemed like a ghost town and Utopian society rolled into one city. Each of the residences had a unique style like the floating houses, but there were hardly any people in the streets. Finally, we visited Ooostvaardersplassen where we were given a guided tour of the nature preserve. We saw horses and deer that were introduced into the preserve in the 80’s. When we were walking back, it started raining a lot and we all were soaked. Overall, today was an interesting mix of looking at buildings with unique designs, experiencing new cities, and walking through and experiencing nature in the province of Flevoland.


-Hannah Larsen

Waterschap and water projects

Today, we met with people from the Waterschap Drent Overijsselse Delta (regional water authority). We started out by learning a bit about the jobs that they do, which includes everything from finding and capturing musk rats that are harmful to levees, to planning and executing huge water projects.
After a pretty good lunch (better than your average conference meal according to Jamie),we got to go see the flood by-pass that is being built off the IJssel Delta.

To end the day, we got a tour of Kampen, a city from the Middle Ages that opted to create a series of barriers across streets and openings that pair with existing city walls and buildings to create a protective flood barrier. All together there are over 100 pieces that would have to put up by 250+ volunteers in case of emergency. While this might seem to be excessive, it accomplishes the town’s goal of maintaining beautiful waterfront views!


Randstad by Train

Today has been a long day of travel in all forms. From surviving rush hour traffic on the freeway to the scenic exploration of South and North Holland, all of us have seen a large portion of the Netherlands in only a day. Once the professors dropped us off at the train station in Dordrecht, we were to given an itinerary for how we would essentially return back to Broek in Waterland by traveling the trains. Throughout this trip, we had to stop at cities including Rotterdam, Delft, Den Haag, and Amsterdam Zuid to explore as well as understand the role public transportation has in these cities. We saw newly built/renovated train stations that fit into the urban environment while also attracting people to use public transit. Also, the city of Rotterdam was very intriguing as we walked through the shopping district and an indoor market. Overall, everyone successfully completed the trip even though one of our stops was under construction. Traveling by train was a great way to explore the development of cities in this area and to also see how life is different in the Netherlands.



In conflict with the student’s eagerness to reach the big city, the day started off in our quiet abode with lectures from the professors. Hoeksema spoke about water management in the Netherlands and Aay explained some of the history of Amsterdam we’d experience later that day. When the time finally came to set off for Amsterdam, we took the bus into the city and then were given a walking tour from Professor Aay. After the tour, we were left to wander the city, find trouble, and get back on our own. We all found our way back no problem and began to prepare for our homestay visits the next day.

Exploring Broek-in-Waterland

Class has begun! The Dutch Landscapes course began with introducing logistics for staying in the Netherlands and receiving course materials. Professor Aay gave an introductory lecture on basic phrases and words of the Dutch language to better prepare students for their time in the Netherlands. Professors Aay and Hoeksema gave the second lecture for the day on the physical and cultural geography of the Netherlands.

Local resident and village tour guide Jan Mars gave the group a tour of the town we will call home for the next month: Broek-in-Waterland. With a population of 2,500, this town has played an important, if not wealthy, role in Noord-Holland through its centuries-long history. With a beautiful church in the center of the town, several drained lake polders adjacent to the town, and an amazing array of traditional Dutch structures, this town is an amazing look into a Dutch village, mostly free from the influence of swaths of tourists and traffic.

Here are some pictures of Broek-in-Waterland. Off to Amsterdam on Friday!




We’re all having a great time,

Noah Schumerth

Settling In

After a smooth flight to Amsterdam, and missing a night’s sleep, we’re settling in and enjoying the view from our lodge. 

Professor Aay led us on a walking tour of Monnickendam. (Yes, some of us are looking tired, but we’ll look a bit more energetic tomorrow.)