Amazing experience in Amsterdam Past Review

By (Political Science and Government, Wellesley College) - abroad from 08/17/2015 to 12/18/2015 with

CIEE: Amsterdam - Social Sciences + Humanities

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was definitely worthwhile. I gained a lot of independence living on my own and met some incredible people. I got a lot of travel experiences I never normally would have had. I learned how to be an aggressive biker. And I learned a lot about what politics looks like in a smaller, homogenous country with a very different history from the US (for example, regarding colonization).

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Much easier than Wellesley, with a lot less support/feedback from my professors. But classes were interesting and relevant to my major/Dutch experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

A lot of logistical things were taken care (like applying for a residency permit) which was nice not to have to think about. Free cultural events were a bonus.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

CIEE offers a choice between De Key dorms, a home stay, and the student hotel. I stayed in De Key and would definitely recommend it because the location was amazing. Also had plenty of space and the kitchen was well-equipped.

* Food:

Cooked for myself for the most part; groceries are reasonably priced and markets were even better price-wise (and more fun).

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It is easy with CIEE to surround yourself with Americans but it is worth it not to. I definitely felt like I had my "places" in Amsterdam which was cool- always more fun not to be a tourist. I didn't pick up any language skills though which I wish had.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I always felt really safe in Amsterdam (even late at night) although being a pedestrian in and of itself sometimes feels like living on the edge. Know how to bike before you go.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

I fell in love with Amsterdam- it's exciting, it's unassumingly beautiful, and it's got a lot of really kind people with really interesting stories. It's much easier to relax there, and from a political science student's perspective I thought the country was fascinating. An example of the virtues and the traps of a welfare state committed to moral pragmatism.


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100-$125
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Biking > public transportation.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • my friends!
  • amsterdam itself (the city is not too large that it's overwhelming but is overflowing with interesting and exciting things)
* What could be improved?
  • educational environment is extremely lax
  • too easy to remain in an american bubble
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Classes at the University of Amsterdam are more worth taking than CIEE classes. European coffee will ruin you for American coffee.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.