Lifestyle, Manchester

Manchester Met English students visit Amsterdam

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By Emily Oldfield

Ten students from Manchester Metropolitan University recently went on a trip to Amsterdam, part of the ‘Manchester and the City’ 2nd year English Literature module. Students were selected to go on the trip based on their dedication to their personal projects, which were part of the unit.

The ‘Man meets Adam’ trip was arranged and attended by Dr Helen Nicholson and Dr David Wilkinson, both teaching on the module, in association with David Geneste, teacher of English at Hogeschool van Amsterdam and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

The trip primarily involved meeting students studying in Amsterdam on the ‘Amsterdam and European Cities’ minor module at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) and considering change over time in cityscapes.

Manchester Met students were also expected to deliver presentations about their projects – which were a variety of responses to the concept of ‘Manchester and the city’ – ranging from an exploration of place through poetry, to a feminist observation of the city, a unique photographic perspective and much more.

The first day of the trip provided an opportunity to explore the iconic city and also the Eastern area of Amsterdam, Amsterdam-Oost, where the  StayOK Zeeburg hostel was based. The evening included welcome drinks with David Geneste who helped introduce the area.

On the second day there was a lecture on ‘Demographic analysis and housing market in Amsterdam’ by Marcus Eshuis, which allowed students to appreciate the process of gentrification in the city and the possible parallels with how this happens in Manchester. Issues such as students being overpriced out of certain areas and having to commute were of particular similarity.

The teaching was then given some valuable context as Manchester Met students went on to complete collaborative fieldwork with the AUAS students, going out into the De Pijp area of the city to see gentrification at work. This involved a walking tour of an area which has been nicknamed as the city’s ‘Latin Quarter’, highlighting the variation between the ‘Oude Pijp’ (Old Pijp), ‘Nieuwe Pijp’ (New Pijp) and the lush green space of Sarphatipark.

During the afternoon, the students then delivered their presentations, with time for relaxation in the evening.

The final day of the trip began early with students from both institutions coming together to borrow bikes for a unique cycling tour of the city. This involved the AUAS students giving guided tours of different sections of Amsterdam, on which they were being formally assessed.

Following a brief discussion about ‘The Badcuyp’ the old bath-house in the area, now a bar, an excursion to Javastraat and Javaplein began the tour. This is a wide street and area which has undergone extensive social and cultural change over time, with more than 100 languages now spoken. This was followed by a visit to Haarlemmerstraat and Haarlemmerdijk, including a chance to see the ornate stonework of the city gates, separating the areas of Amsterdam and Harlem.

The afternoon consisted of a return to De Pijp by bike, with a visit to the Albert Cuyp Market which is one of the biggest in Europe, open 6 days a week and dating from as early as 1905.  There was also a visit to Vondelkerk, a towering gothic-style church which was used from 1880 onwards, designed by J.H. Cuypers, the architect behind Amsterdam’s Central Station and Rijksmuseum.

Goodbye drinks in the Vondelpark were a fitting end to the trip. Students could gather to take in the 47 hectares of greenery in what is one of the city’s most iconic parklands, situated in the Amsterdam-Zuid area. This also included an opportunity for the students to thank David Geneste for his hospitality in what was an immersive learning opportunity and chance to appreciate the similarities and differences between two major European cities of culture. The students were also grateful to all the Manchester Met staff who made the trip possible and so enjoyable.

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Emily Oldfield

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