Learning and Loving in Amsterdam

This trip is a study abroad through MSU called Advertising and Society in Europe. The trip is three weeks long and covers a class called Advertising and Society. This class is all about different controversial subjects in advertising and how they affect society as well as how society affects advertising. The first week of the trip is in Barcelona, the second week is in Cannes and the third is in Amsterdam.

In Barcelona, we visited a lot of the city's most popular attractions including the Sagrada Familia and the Gaudi museum. While in Cannes, we spent five days attending the Cannes Lions festival, a festival of creativity for professionals in advertising and media fields. In Amsterdam, we did a boat tour of the city, the Heineken experience and other attractions of the city.

The class work and subject material were very interesting - we took turns presenting the chapter material to the class in groups, which helped us better understand and make connections with what we were learning. We also had to analyze ads we saw in two of the host countries, which helped us connect our class material with the society we were in.

My favorite thing we did for class were the 24 hour challenges. We had three of these challenges, which were essentially advertising briefs that treated us like real advertising professionals who had to create a campaign for a specific purpose. We had to go out in the city and film a commercial or create posters or any other medium we could come up with and present it to the class. These were challenging but fun to create and see what everyone else came up with.

The trip was overall an awesome time. I loved learning more about advertising in an international setting and seeing everything these cities had to offer with other students who think like me. I would totally recommend studying abroad to anyone who is interested. I learned a lot from class and just from being in another continent for a while, and it was a unique experience that will set me apart for the rest of my career at MSU and afterward.

Daily Recap

Monday, June 26

After breakfast at the hotel, we took the metro to class at UVA. During this class, we presented our 24 hour challenges from Cannes, and my team won! The prize was dinner with our group leaders, Juan and Viky, on Wednesday night. After class, my friend Claire and I found a lunch place with awesome sandwiches and freshly made juice. We ate fast because we had to get to a boat tour on the canals!

The boat tour was such a cool way to see all the best parts of the city and learn a little more about its history. I was fascinated by the way the houses along the canals are built - they're on wooden beams, and some look warped from the foundation they're built on. Everything in Amsterdam is built upwards, so the buildings are all super narrow and tall. We also saw lots of house boats, which are extremely expensive, but if I could, I wouldn't mind living in one of these when I retire someday.

After the tour, Claire and I found coffee and macarons and did homework in the hotel room until our group dinner. The dinner was at Kantjil & de Tigre, which is an Indonesian restaurant. Amsterdam has all kinds of restaurants, which is great for me because I love trying new foods! Indonesian might be a new favorite. I was exhausted, so after a couple hours watching my classmates perform at a karaoke bar down the street, I was ready for bed. 

Tuesday, June 27

Class was cancelled so we got to sleep in a little bit, but we also had a 24 hour challenge due tonight. So after breakfast at the hotel, we sat in my room and brainstormed ideas for our advertisements. The challenge was to create two video ads for Nike that promotes its sustainable innovation initiative specifically to the city of Amsterdam. We brainstormed until around 12:40 then walked to our group lunch at a cafe called Luden which was close to our hotel. 

Then we got on the metro to get to our agency tour at 3 (although we were very late due to metro issues). The tour was of an agency that is a partnership between DDB and Tribal agencies. The president of DDB gave us a presentation about what their company is about, along with several case studies of the campaigns they've worked on for companies like Heineken and KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines). After the tour we got back to work on our 24 hour challenge. My group and I worked until late, taking only  a short break for dinner at a burger place nearby, and dessert too of course. But we finished it!

Wednesday, June 28

We had our last class of the trip today. We presented our 24 hour challenges and voted (my team didn't win this time) and then started the lecture on children's relationships with advertising as well as tobacco and alcohol in advertising. I loved having class at UVA because all of our chairs were facing the middle, so it really felt like a discussion. Also our trip leader/professor Juan really cared about our insight so it was always a well balanced discussion.

After class we had lunch at Luden again, then had another agency tour. This tour was at Wieden + Kennedy, which is a global, independent, full-service ad agency. I think every single person left wanting a job there. It was such a cool environment and they've done some awesome work. This trip has made me think a lot about what kind of job I want in my future and where I would want to live as well, and it's expanded my understanding of the field of advertising across international borders. After the agency visit, I shopped for a while before heading to the dinner for winners of the 24 hour challenge at a delicious Argentinian steakhouse.

Thursday, June 29

Since there was no class, we had lots of time to kill this morning. Some friends and I got up somewhat early and had breakfast at the hotel before heading out for some shopping. We went to an outdoor market with vendors selling all kinds of things. My personal favorites were the jewelry and antiques. I bought some antique postcards that were only four for one euro, and some even have writing still on them.

After spending a lot of time and money there, we had lunch at an avocado restaurant where I had toast with an avocado rose on top and some chips and guacamole. The food was beautiful and delicious! Then we started walking to the Heineken brewery for the tour, the "Heineken Experience." I don't really drink and I'm not particularly interested in how Heineken is made, so this wasn't my favorite, but it was still interesting to tour the brewery and have a proper tasting of the beer. My friend Claire and I headed back early and found somewhere to eat dinner. I had a piece of apple pie for desert because I thought it would be classic Dutch apple pie, and it was almost as good as I hoped. I did a little more shopping (there's ALWAYS more shopping to do here) and then went to bed early.

Friday, June 30

I had to leave a day early for work, so this was my last full day in Europe. After breakfast at the hotel, a group of us wanted to go back to the outdoor market and check out some vintage stores near it. I found a denim jacket for my boyfriend at a store called Episode, then some more gifts for friends and family at the market. At a vintage store called Time Machine, I found some hidden gems too. I let myself buy these things because I figured I'd never find items exactly like this anywhere else. On the way back to the hotel, a torrential downpour started and I got soaked. I changed clothes then went out with a couple friends to the flower market to take photos for our blogs. I wish we were staying long enough to buy some flowers here!

Then we had lunch in a cafe where I had some traditional mini dutch pancakes with butter and powdered sugar and it was one of the best things I've tried on this trip. At some point, Claire and I got separated from the bigger group who were going on a friendship boat tour. We almost got lost in the city looking for it, but then randomly ran into them at the last minute just in time to get on the boat. This tour was incredible - it was an open-top boat with a bar onboard, and we brought some macarons as well. We even witnessed a couple proposing on a bridge with a legendary history of romance (a lot of us were teary-eyed). We finished the night with dinner at a Mexican restaurant and karaoke at a bar by our hotel. I packed and got to bed for a full day of traveling home on Saturday.

By Madeline Davis