A Memorable Semester December 18, 2018

By (Middlebury College) - abroad from 08/20/2018 to 12/22/2018 with

CIEE: Amsterdam - Social Sciences

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Definitely worthwhile! Gained greater confidence and independence while immersing myself in a different culture which taught me a lot about my own.

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.

Overall, less work than a Middlebury Semester. For many classes, did not have assignments until the last month of class, which was both good and bad. UvA classes were difficult due to the lack of transparency about expectations/grading. CIEE classes more similar to home classes, although for some they were all discussion/seminar/presentations, which was not necessarily useful.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

CIEE Staff was great! Responded quickly to emails and was always available in their office which was right next to the UvA campus.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in Maassluisstraat Dorm (De Key Housing), and the room itself was nice with its own kitchen and bathroom. however, the location was far from the city center where classes were located, and though we were given unlimited metro cards for the semester, I think I must have wasted at least an hour a day on the metro/tram. Also, the lack of common rooms in my dorm was isolating and I ended up spending more time that I would've liked alone in my room. About 60% of the program was located in this dorm though, so it was not isolating in that way, just being anywhere closer to the city center would've been definitely worth it.

* Food:

Cooked own food with personal kitchen in my dorm room. Grocery store was nearby so wasn't a hassle, but cooking alone in my room most nights was very isolating. Community kitchens would've been better. Easy to save money by cooking own food at home, as meals at restaurants add up quickly (Amsterdam is pretty expensive).

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Location of dorm very much felt as if I was integrated in the local culture on the outskirts of the city where most people actually lived. However, for the sake of being a student, being in the city center would've been a lot easier. Was forced to integrate with the local culture through the use of public transportation, and though this was fine, being closer to the city would've made it easier to bike more often and avoid this.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

N/A

* Safety:

Very safe, never felt threatened. Always felt safe getting home at night.

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

Finances

* 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
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Easy to budget if grocery shopping/cooking own food! Also, take the night buses to get home late-night instead of ubering.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

Really only used in Dutch class, but was useful for using public transit/grocery shopping/restaurants, etc.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? n/a
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? n/a

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The city itself
  • Other students in the program
  • Independence
* What could be improved?
  • Housing Location
  • Social Spaces to hangout with the other students in the program
  • Pre-Arrival Class Schedules
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Wish I had known more information about the UvA classes.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Photography in Modern & Contemporary Context

Course Department: UvA, Art History
Instructor: Sophie Berrebi
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class was the first half of the semester, and the length/structure of the class made me question if I had even learned anything. Readings were never talked about or related to class at all except for the final exam; for lectures the professor would simply make a slideshow of some photographs of that days topic and click through them without connecting them to any broader themes. Had two assignments (a group presentation on an artist, and a take home final through canvas on the readings). The first half of class would be the professor's lecture and the second half would be student presentations. Due to this format, I think the professor only lectured for a total of 6~ hours for the entire class, which made it seem as if she just did not want to teach. Overall, I would not recommend this class for an exchange student.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Capita Selecta European Art 1850-1950

Course Department: UvA, Art History
Instructor: Marietta de Brune
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Only had three assignments which were all in the last two weeks of the semester, so had no clue how was doing in the class all semester up to the final. Assignments were a presentation on an artist, a paper on the presentation topic, and a final exam over anything that had been mentioned in the class/textbook. Expectations were not transparent, still unsure how the class will be graded.
Credit Transfer Issues: TBD.
Course Name/Rating:

Political & Economic Development of the EU/Netherlands

Course Department: CIEE Social Sciences
Instructor: Fardau Procee
Instruction Language: English
Comments:
Credit Transfer Issues: TBD.
Course Name/Rating:

Beginning Dutch

Course Department: CIEE
Instructor: Willemijn Rijper
Instruction Language: English/Dutch
Comments: Willemijn was the best, would definitely recommend her to future students! The class was always engaging and we did a lot of hands-on field-trips to test our knowledge of spoken Dutch. All assignments (written/oral tests, and pass/fail assignments) were very helpful and practical. The class was very focused on everyday, conversational dutch which was very useful.
Credit Transfer Issues: TBD