Here you can read the experiences of one of our current students with the Master TDM from a short trip to Amsterdam. This blogpost, including the pictures, was written by Charmee Gelani. Enjoy the read!
Destinations are rich with interactions between tourism stakeholders in a physical destination environment, affected by people’s genetic wiring, local culture, history, and all sorts of institutions. Research gives us a chance to grasp this complexity, influence it with new knowledge and perspectives, and make change happen. The Master program in Tourism Destination Management at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences, has designed a course Context Related Research to enable its students to understand a variety of research approaches and learn to use them by practicing specific methods. One of these approaches of qualitative research is “Participant Observation”, where the researcher participates in ongoing activities and records observations.
The Master students of 2016-17 visited Amsterdam on the 15th of September to put into practice “Participant Observation”. In this post, Charmee Gelani, a student from Rajkot, India shares her experience of her day trip to Amsterdam.
We Got Amsterdamed!!
The day started with us travelling from Breda to Amsterdam. While some of us arrived late, some were wondering what a train supplement is, some were running around to buy a supplement and some others ended up paying a fine of 10 Euros, failing to hide away from the ticket checker. This is pretty much how our journey started. But the good part was that we all made it to Amsterdam right on time. Stepping out of the station, we collected a map from the tourist information center and geared ourselves up for stalking tourists, or to be more formal, for ‘Participant Observation’. We were supposed to observe the minute details of the behavior of the tourists and analyze the reason behind their specific behavior. This is part of our course ’Context Related Research’ to teach us one of the many methods of qualitative research. What place could be better than Amsterdam to find ample number of tourists?
We all started wandering around in our own directions and looked around for touristy places to strike a conversation with some of the tourists. It was not an easy task, considering that most of us were new to the city as well. Somehow we were all trying to maintain a balance between being a tourist and an observer. However, we have to thank the city for its friendliness, which helped us get along with the day with no hurdles. The weather was welcoming in the morning only to turn out otherwise in the afternoon. Yet, all these troubles were endured due to our excitement to work on this new assignment.
Apart from European tourists, we came across lot of tourists from China and America and most of them were old couples. As for me, I can’t help but observe all these old couples intrigued by the architecture of the city and being captivated by the beauty of countless canals around the city. I initiated a conversation with an old man standing with a camera at the Dam Square assuming that he is a tourist, only to find out that he is a resident who is disappointed with the amount of tourist influx to the city. Well this does not come as a surprise to me as I would not want to be late for work just because tourists are swarming into my city from every direction. But Amsterdam is beautiful and tourists simply can’t avoid visiting it, including me.
In between observing the tourists and their behavior, we preferred to be one of them as well. We captured ourselves with the canals, the I AMSTERDAM sign and other touristy places. But we had to be a little quick so we can be on time to meet our lecturers Celiane Camargo Borges and Ondrej Mitas to discuss our progress so far. I want to believe we were not so bad with our assignment and as the day progressed, we were getting a bit tired, so all of us chose our favorite spot and munched our lunch, observing tourists pass by while they were trying to understand the tour guide by following his gestures.
Finally, it was time to wrap up our observation and head for the library restaurant at around 5 o’clock to meet all our classmates, to show and discuss our observation with them. All of us exchanged our notes to spot something interesting that each of us observed. We had some funny, some interesting and some surprising encounters with the strangers we observed during the day, which we shared happily among us. Later, we put down our ideas on a large paper on the table and concluded our evening with our professors. I must say it was quite an evening.
Every one of us enjoyed the city very much and we were all very excited to spend the rest of the evening as a typical tourist and delight ourselves with a fancy dinner. However, only some of us were able to stay back in the city, while some went to Rotterdam for a different atmosphere, some had to head back home, while others were visiting another city for an early planned weekend. I am sure all my classmates will agree that it was a great end to what started out as hectic week. However, this was followed by a busy weekend full of assignments. I will be looking forward to many such days to come during my master program in Tourism Destination Management at NHTV.