Three Continents, Eleven Countries, One Life Changing Semester. Past Review

By (Actin, Emerson College) for

Emerson College: Kasteel Well: The Netherlands

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I grew up a lot this semester, gained a deeper appreciation of cultures other than my own. I liked going to museums here in the states, but now I love it! Seeing the Mona Lisa and the David in person literally take one's breath away. I'll want to go back as soon as possible.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The European system is actually a little bit harder than back home. There are no "gen-ed easy courses." In one class I had to do an eight page paper, a presentation and an exam for my final, and none of them were on the same topic!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The only weakness I can think of is that the castle in which we lived was not entirely wheelchair accessible. Other than that, the support staff and teachers made sure that we had an overwhelmingly positive experience.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

During the week, we lived in a 14th Century Castle. Most of the rooms overlooked at least one of the moats, and several (including mine) even had fireplaces. All of our classes were just a two minute walk away. The town of Well was small and virtually without nightlife. However, the one bar in town was extremely hospitable, offering an "American Night" where we could drink for cheap.

* Food:

The food isn't great and the town is so small you really can't do much to escape it. Ordering pizza was a frequent occurrence, as were trips to the 'snack shack.' The weekends make up for the dining hall food. Tagine in Morocco, lamb and pastry in Paris, and pasta in Italy all took my mind off of the food back in the Netherlands.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Because our program encourages us to travel all around Europe, we are exposed to many different cultures. I ended up going to Amsterdam, Scotland, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Morocco, Spain, and the Czech Republic. I can't imagine a more culturally based program, for not only to you experience ways of life in many different countries, but you are able to visit all the big sights: the red light district, Dutch Hermitage Museum, The Anne Frank House, Arthur's Seat, the Royal National Theater, the Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, London Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle, the remains of the Berlin Wall, Hamburger Bahnhof, the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum, the Vatican Museum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Sistine Chapel, the Ponte Vecchio, Basilica di Santa Croce, the Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia, the leaning tower of Pisa, the Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, the Egyptian Spice Market, the Basilica Cistern, the Souk, sleeping in the Sahara Desert, the Reina Sofia, the Prado museum, Puerto del Sol, the Rudolfinum, the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle. If that's not culture, what is?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I had to go to the local clinic once and the assistance I received was professional, thorough, and free. I didn't have to pay for the visit, only for the prescription that I got out of it.

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


* 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)


If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Hostel
  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The travel! I still can't believe all of the things I've seen.
* What could be improved?
  • Apart from the food, nothing. This program was perfect.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? DO IT. Deciding to spend this semester at the castle was the best decision of my life. This program will benefit anyone, because you tailor it to suit your personality. Not interested in museums? Take a camel ride into the desert instead! It all depends on you.