Walking down the narrow street towards the Red Light District, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But when we came across our first “peep show” I was shocked. I knew that prostitution was legal in Amsterdam, but I didn’t realize the extent to which it filled this district. With the smell of cannabis and urine in the air, I realized everything anyone had ever told me about Amsterdam was true.
As a 21st century girl, I was appalled at first. Seeing these Barbie-like women standing in the windows like mannequins in nothing but their underwear freaked me out. I felt sorry for them and their life. But then I started to think more and more about it. These women are working in a thriving industry in Amsterdam. The culture is vastly different from that of America and it was more than acceptable for them to strut their stuff in those shops.
As the day went on and we passed more and more shops boasting the prettiest women in Amsterdam, I did not feel as appalled as I originally did. Amsterdam has its own culture and this is just another part of it. There is no need to shield your eyes as you walk down the streets or feel embarrassed. This is their life. You can only hope that their industry treats them and pays them well.
The other aspect of Amsterdam culture is weed. The smell reeks in the air and around every corner there are little coffee shops or convenient stores where you can buy paraphernalia. It’s just another part of the culture.
That’s the thing no one really warns you about when you study abroad. Sure, they tell you that the culture of your new home will be different, but you often forget that when you travel, you enter into an entirely new culture. As a world, we need to be accepting of these cultures as long as they follow the laws of their home country. Some cultures may seem flawed, but that’s a personal interpretation. Live and let live is my motto and it pertains to any and everyone you come into contact with. Embrace new cultures and see just how different lives can be when you live in vastly different countries.