Grand Place in front of the town hall.

Freeland Burton ’19 — During my time in Europe this summer I was able to visit many once-dreamed-of places that I never thought I would see in my lifetime.  I studied Business and Sustainability in Amsterdam, Netherlands, which was a wonderfully unique city that provided an opportunity to explore something new every time I turned the corner.  Some of these opportunities came not from just Amsterdam, but other cities too.  It was a Saturday, July 21st, when I happened to overhear some of my study abroad colleagues mention that they were planning a day trip to Brussels, Belgium, for the following day.  I thought that it was good to expose myself to as much as possible while in Europe, so I of course decided to travel with them.

The day trip consisted of a very early morning bus ride, a city tour, and a lot of walking.  We started in the Grand Place, or the central square of Brussels where we got to walk around the town hall.  I have always been a fan of gothic style architecture, but this building was undoubtedly a masterpiece.  Actually, our tour guide told us a very funny story about the town hall.  The east-wing (to the left when facing the front) was built and originally completed long before the second half.  Once a need for craft guilds arose, an expansion of the building was planned.  When construction started, they realized there wouldn’t be enough room to make the town hall symmetrical.  For this reason, one side is shorter than the other.  Even more unbelievable, our tour guide told us that a building not 200 feet away was where Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto!  These were connections I would have never made without our wonderful tour guide.

Royal Palace of Brussels

We also visited the Royal Palace, which had some of the most intricately designed rooms I have ever seen in my life.  There were multiple times I had to take a moment simply to bask in the glory of the place.  Extravagant chandeliers and bizarre art pieces were everywhere, but the room that stuck out to me the most was filled with millions of bugs.  This room was given a makeover in the early 2000s, covering the room with 1.6million iridescent green beetles.  The chandelier was covered by these beetles as well which formed one of the most curiously beautiful objects.  Light reflected off of these bugs created a warming green color in the room, and proved to show the creativity and expertise required to create such magnificent works of art.

Later that day we took the bus back to Amsterdam and got ready for the week ahead of us.  Spontaneous trips like this one were only made possible thanks to the generosity of the Rudolph Family.  I am so very grateful I was provided this opportunity because it taught me so much about myself and the rest of the world.  Everything on my trip from the class to sightseeing was an unimaginably terrific learning experience.  I gained a greater appreciation for the simpler things in life… like a ceiling covered with a million beetles.