Blog and opinion
9 January 2018 • Denise Mowder
New years eve war zone
I am really enjoying your students. Perhaps it’s the smaller class size or the condensed nature of the class. At MSU I only spent 2 1/2 hours a week with the students but here we meet three days a week for 3-4 hours a day. We spent the last two weeks working on gangs in the US, Mexico, and Europe. We looked at street gangs, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and Mexican cartels. They were very aware of the types of gangs in Europe and quickly saw the differences between US street gangs and European gangs. But it was the Mexican cartels that grabbed their interest. They were shocked at the continuing level of violence that plague the Mexican people. The last week before Christmas break, we switched to US gun violence. As the week proceeded, they began to understand the history of the great American gun war. The students switched from amazement to horror as they learned the politics of gun control and the extent of the violence Americans deal with on a daily basis. They even came up with some innovative gun control laws that could possibly pass US political hurdles.
The Dutch weather has been a bigger hurdle than I originally anticipated. I believe the Dutch people are much more hardier than myself. I’ve seen elderly men and women riding bikes in wind and rain wearing only a thin coat. I’ve seen babies with only minimal coverage and children walking to school without any winter coats. There I am freezing while wearing three layers under a heavy winter coat, gloves, and scarf. However, relief was on the way because we headed to the southern coast of Spain for Christmas. We embraced the blue sky and sunshine along with a week on the beach.
Spain is very different from the Europe I’ve experienced so far. Spain seems very ‘un’ European and more like a mixture of the US and Mexico. Having experienced The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and France these past months, the difference was very apparent. Spain had more space, more cars, and less mass transit like the US. They also drive in a US ‘crazy’ manner! The markets and customs reminded us of Mexico. Even the emergency sirens sound just like the US and Mexico!
We were not prepared for a Dutch New Years eve. We flew back into Amsterdam at 7:30 pm on New Years Eve, just in time to catch the last train to Den Haag but not in time to catch the last tram home! I didn’t realize all mass transit would stop for the night! While being Ubered home I was shocked by the firework mania accompanied with garbage can bon fires that was occurring on every corner. The fireworks in every neighborhood went on until 4:00 AM and was more like a war zone than a celebration. Even the windows shook with the continued booms and bangs! In the US almost every state has laws regarding lighting fireworks and in most states they’re illegal. Never in the US would you hear fireworks all night. At first it seemed novel and fun… however by 2:00 AM, the novelty wore off!
We’re down to our last 3 weeks and I’m not looking forward to saying goodbye to my students or my great new colleagues. Oh, did I mention you work with a great bunch of people? You should smile when you think of coming home to them. I’m already looking forward to getting out of this weather – even Denver seems warmer! Perhaps I shouldn’t have said that out loud! I’m also looking for to seeing my dog – Murphy the beautiful Sheltie plus sleeping in my own bed.
Read Juul Goorens second blog about his life in Denver.
Denise Mowder worked 12 years as a prosecutor. Nowadays she is Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. In December and January she is teaching at THUAS. She writes this blog to THUAS lecturer Juul Gooren who currently works in Denver.