On Tuesday, I ventured into Amsterdam for the first time on my own to conduct my first interview, and to have an incredible culinary experience courtesy of my grandfather and the restaurant De Kas. As instructed, I treated myself to a four course lunch which was divine, especially given the surroundings. De Kas is located in the old Amsterdam city greenhouse which has been turned into the restaurant. The focus is on fresh produce, much of which is grown in their own greenhouse. The meal was so incredible and thoughtfully made, and put me in the perfect headspace to go into my first interview.
Because I am focusing on reproductive healthcare and abortion access, the conversations I will be having will be intense and personal. My first interviewee was a friend from the NOISE program, and I met with her at her work, which was the coolest old theatre I’ve seen. We walked up what seemed like 5 flights of stairs, found the private office, and began to dig into experiences with birth control, sex, and healthcare. Interestingly, she couldn’t think of a single person she knows who has had an abortion, and doesn’t think I would have a lot of luck finding women to talk to in the Netherlands. All of this aside, we were able to have a really interesting conversation about culture and opinion around sex and birth control, and I feel as if I am off to a really positive start in terms of my research.
On Thursday, my entire group went into Amsterdam for various tours/meetings, the most notable being with a woman from the Prostitute Information Center (PIC), a group that advocates for sex worker rights. We had a current sex worker and member of PIC give us a tour of the red light district, telling us about her life as a sex worker, and the ways in which the organisation supports sex workers in Amsterdam, and the history of sex work and the red light district in Amsterdam. This was really interesting and powerful, and being able to speak with someone as open as our tour guide is was a new experience, and one that has pushed me to really analyse and try to change the way we talk about and criminalize sex work.
After the PIC tour, we went on a black heritage tour, looking at examples of race and the history of race in Amsterdam, something often glossed over and avoided, and we finished the day by attending a presentation at Women On Waves, an organisation that helps provide abortions for women in countries where abortion or abortion pills are illegal. It was an incredibly heavy day, but very important.
I leave Utrecht in two days. This doesn’t feel at all possible, as I feel I could live here for another month at least. There is so much to explore in this picturesque city, and it feels as if I have only cracked the surface. This weekend will be full of packing, wandering, and saying goodbye to the things I’ve grown accustomed to here. And yet, Berlin awaits!! I am super excited to explore the city, and to have a bit more time there.