Past Review

By (Film/Cinema/Video Studies., Emerson College) for

Emerson College: Kasteel Well: The Netherlands

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This program was fantastic, I gained amazing friends and travel experiences. It was literally the time of my life because I took advantage of what I could and focused on living to the fullest every day. I think the program is what you make it somewhat but it is truly amazing to have the opportunity to live in a castle and to have the freedom to travel where ever you want to go. It is not always easy but it is always worth it and in the end you leave not believing it is already over with an amazing new group of people and friends and many experiences. I loved it.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: N/A
How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month
The term and year this program took place: Spring 2010

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes were interesting and often tied into the travel experiences. It was different to be taught by Europeans and some professors, like Chester Lee are fantastic and engaging. However some are also tedious due to long lectures. The work load is usually manageable but it can be difficult to balance everything. I would recommend getting midterm and final assignments over sooner rather than later. Overall I enjoyed my classes for the most part and the professors are generally understanding people who will try to help you learn the material.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

OSA are very helpful and friendly, I always enjoyed interactions with them. Dolchia is a wondrous woman and a great program leader. I really liked the administration. The only complaints I would give are due to their strictness of some policies, such as blankets and the cost of laundry. Something such as bringing one of your blankets outside can result in a heavy fee that cannot be argued with. This was frustrating though I can see their reasons for not wanting the blankets to travel. In general, they will fee you harshly if you give them reason to. Overall they are great people who will help you with anything you could think to ask them.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Again, due to the secluded nature of the castle, you will be surround by English speakers rather than Dutch, so there is little to none language acquisition. This program does not focus on that aspect of studying abroad. The location of the castle is fantastic if you choose to explore. It can get a bit suffocating at times due to the close quarters and the fact that you are located in a very small town. However, I rented a bike and was able to ride into Germany easily as well as explore the nearby lakes, sanddunes, forests, river, and farmland. I would HIGHLY recommend getting a bike if only to have the freedom to explore and get to town a bit faster. The town of Well is very small and simple but provides everything you need. You can also take the bus or a train to nearby places easily. A day trip to Venlo, Maastrict or The Haague is often a good change of scenery. The castle is in a beautiful area that allows for beautiful views and good places to sit outside, especially when its nice out. You are seconds away from class, the dining hall and other facilities within the castle grounds (campus) and minutes from town. The local bar, the Linden, which offers America Night once a week is also walking distance in old town. (The grocery store, bus stop, ext are located in new town, the castle sits in between old town and new town.) You do have to bring your own sheets and towels but they supply you with blankets, eating utensils, a pillow and other basics. Every bedroom also has a sink in it which is a very nice and convenient thing to have. Communal showers and toilets are on every floor though they are all slightly different (mainly in the Main Castle). Castle living is comfortable and communal, Sophie's lounge (named after the castle's ghost) and the lounge in the VB provide good hang out locations and a group of us would use the exercise tower (nicknamed ladybug lounge due to the dead and living ladybugs that can be found there) to watch movies or TV shows on a laptop when the TV was in use. It is also a good place to be a bit louder during quiet hours. The moat and its black swans provide entertainment and the castle gardens are good for short strolls.

* Food:

The food is often strange but usually edible. I am a vegetarian and would therefore often have the non meat option. This usually entailed tofu or some kind of soy product with vegetables. There were certainly weird things, such as their "guacamole" (some light green liquid that tasted like an herb of some sort) but usually there is something to eat. Grilled cheese or toasted peanut butter and nutella sandwiches where a big hit.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was at the Castle during Carnaval which was quite an experience. The ability to travel on weekends lead to many short trips to a lot of different countries. The fact that you are in Europe and have the freedom to explore and have fun was one of the best parts of this program.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I felt very safe unless I was traveling. There were a few instances in bigger cities that were a bit sketchy but the castle itself feels very safe, due in a large part to the tiny town its located in. It is easy to go to the doctor most of the time but there were times when students had trouble getting antibiotics they needed. I had a sinus infection and was able to make an appointment through OSA and get the necessary drugs to recover easily.

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?

Language acquisition improvement?

This program is not focused on gaining language skills in Dutch. You will learn basic words and phrases but beyond that it is easy to get around just speaking English. Other countries had more of a language barrier, but since you visit them for such a short amount of time you are usually fine getting by. The castle is also removed from town enough that you are usually in an English speaking community and surrounded by other students, I would recommend exploring the town and surrounding areas due to this. Renting a bicycle was one of the best things I did.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I would recommend renting a bike, for reasons mentioned above, and learning to drive stick. I was able to get a job at the castle driving professors to and from the train station (about 15min away) because I could drive manual. It was a easy job that didn't require a lot of time, paid well and allowed for a little extra spending money. It is also much less expensive to rent a manual car. I would also recommend exploring the areas around the castle and taking advantage of the forests, sanddunes and other natural areas as well as exploring parts of the Netherlands. Sometimes its better to stay close, a weekend in Amsterdam allows you to see a show, go to flea markets, attend museums and so on and is only two hours away. It is also good to see other parts of Europe but it is not necessary every weekend. Though it may not seem like it at first it is nice to stay at the castle occasionally and have some down time.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Intercultural Communications

Course Department:
Instructor: Chester Lee
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was fantastic due to Chester Lee. We went on several interesting field trips and had cultural food in class. Chester is clear, organized, engaging and has an obvious knowledge and understanding of the material. He treats students with respect and will get back assignments promptly. I think he is a fantastic man and professor. The only complaint people have voiced is the sped in which he talks, but I never had a problem following what he said. It helped me pay attention.
Credit Transfer Issues: N/A