Finding My Heritage

It has been a couple of weeks since I have been able to post but I’ve been too busy having some awesome experiences! I’m going to break up the last weeks into several different posts so I can talk about adventures I’ve been on and some recommendations for people who plan on traveling or studying abroad themselves.

So! Since I’ve last posted, I have been to some of the best cities that I have been to in Europe. In this post, I want to talk about my heritage. On my Dad’s side of the family, both of my grandparents and all of their parents and so on are from the Netherlands, making my Dad 100% Dutch and me, 50% Dutch. Half of who I am! When I decided to plan a trip to the Netherlands, I wanted to learn about the history, find out what it really means to be Dutch, and see the place of where my ancestors came from. This trip was really important to me because I spent the first years of my life with a Dutch grandmother and some of the culture from the Netherlands that was passed down from her parents resonated through my childhood years. We have always had wooden clogs in our house as well as some Dutch delft blue pottery with windmills and country scenes intricately hand-painted on it. It surrounded me but I never actually got to go where my ancestors have been before, so I was excited to finally experience it myself.

When I was on my way to Amsterdam in the Netherlands and looked out the window of my plane, I saw a windmill and words could not express how extremely emotional I was. Sure, to you, it may be just a windmill stranded in the distance, but to me, it was my heritage. It was the place where my ancestors came from, and ultimately where I came from.

To fully get everything out of my experience in the Netherlands, I wanted a tour guide to lead me through what it meant to be Dutch, and there was no better way that doing it than with someone who was actually Dutch himself. I signed up for a group tour weekend where I was with other students who were studying abroad. This was a great way to meet other people who were studying at different places around of the world and see how their experiences were going. We met our tour guide, Arthur, who has lived in Amsterdam his whole life so he was able to really show us around the city, telling us how it really is to live there and experience everyday life. The weirdest thing is that there was an uncanny resemblance of my Dad. I was freaking out because other people in my group agreed with me when I showed them a picture of my Dad. I’m trying to not look too much into it; it’s just a crazy coincidence!

While my ancestors aren’t from Amsterdam (that I know of) or the city life, I got to be able to embrace certain things about Dutch life like the food, the Dutch language and different things that happened in its history. I even got out of the city and into the country to see what it was like because that’s where my family is from; the countryside. I still even have family living in the Netherlands, I just didn’t have enough time to see them. I got to see signs that had my last name on them (Bakker) which was our last name before we came to America. It’s the little things like this-finding out more about the culture from my heritage and being able to share what I’ve learned with my family and just having the experiences for myself that truly what make studying abroad unique and really cool. If you or you know anyone who is traveling, travel to the places where you’re from and see where you come from because it makes the experience that much more meaningful!



Proper Selfie in Front of the I (Am)sterdam Sign



Classic Dutch Cuisine; Raw Herring with Raw Onions and Pickles



Finding my Last Name!


Stroop waffle

Dutch Homemade Stroopwaffle


windmill and me!

Dutch Windmill


tulip field

Tulip Fields! 

Alyssa, a psychology major with a concentration in psychobiology, is excited to spend the semester in Prague, Czech Republic. In the hopes of adventure, she wants to meet new people, learn a new language, try new foods, and travel whenever she gets the chance. She can't wait to experience the culture of a different place!

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