My Study Abroad Experience Has Changed How I Think About Cities

Apr 27, 2018 1:30:00 PM / by Irene Kanthan

CAPA_Brandon Mooney_Dublin

Brandon is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2018, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Political Science major at Clark University, he is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.

In this week's post, Brandon visits Amsterdam and analyzes how a course in Dublin changed the way he views cities and traveling.


I would like to use this blog post to talk about my weekend trip to Amsterdam and how taking the Analyzing and Exploring the Global City course has changed my view of travel. I went to Amsterdam last Friday (a day earlier than the rest of my friends because I don’t have class on Fridays) and stayed through Sunday night.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Dublin_Spring2018_From Brandon Mooney - A Canal with Reflection in Amsterdam

I didn’t really have a set plan for Amsterdam. I didn’t do any real research about attractions or things to see. I just figured that I would get there and walk around and stumble upon something interesting. Friday was spent wandering the winding streets and canals. I really got a feel for the city as a whole. I happened to chance upon an enormous park and spent an hour sitting on a bench basking in the sun and people watching. I came across several open-air markets with stalls selling everything from thrift clothes to waffles to antiques. I walked along the canals and saw the house boats.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Dublin_Spring2018_From Brandon Mooney - Amsterdam Central Train Station

And funny enough, I have no regrets about not going into the Van Gogh museum or the Anne Frank house. I saw both of them from the outside. I saw the long lines and decided that I would rather walk around. A quick side note is that if you want to get tickets for the Anne Frank house you should book them a month in advance because they sell out quickly. I also walked all the way to my hostel because I highly underestimated how far away it was, but I did get to see the various phases of Amsterdam’s development, moving through the older city center to the industrial plazas to the tall apartment blocks outside the canals.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Dublin_Spring2018_From Brandon Mooney - Eating a Baked Potato at a Restaurant in Amsterdam

Saturday was spent with friends heading across the river by way of the free shuttle boat to see the “I am” Amsterdam sign. My friends went up to the top of a hotel and bought tickets to get strapped into a giant swing and swung out over the side. Once again, I walked around a bit while they waited in line, relaxed in a field outside, and admired the architecture.

On Sunday we met up with two of my friend’s friends from college who are studying abroad at Maastricht University, which is just outside Amsterdam. With our local tour guides we explored the streets, went to a tulip market, and went to a mall to take a glass elevator up to a restaurant with beautiful views of the city. It was a wonderful way to end off my trip.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Dublin_Spring2018_From Brandon Mooney - A Canal in Amsterdam

The coursework in the Analyzing and Exploring the Global City course centers around drawing back the veil of Dublin and seeing the underlying history and symbolism that is, although prevalent, mostly overlooked. However, I found that my ability to scrutinize Dublin allowed for a greater understanding of Amsterdam as well. I was able to see the old city heart, with its winding canals and leaning buildings, slowly transform into modernity with the apartments and large warehouses. I looked at Amsterdam like a history book rather than a city; it became more of a story of constant evolution than a tourist spot. It was very surreal to realize how much my experience at CAPA has changed my thinking, and how much more I saw having spent time abroad.

I hope that you enjoyed my latest blog post, and as finals begin to approach I wish you the all the best!

Thanks Brandon!

Brandon's journey continues every Friday so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Dublin Program

Topics: Dublin, Ireland, International Education