Kasteel Well: It's All in the Travel Past Review

By (B.A. in Writing, Literature & Publishing, Emerson College) for

Emerson College: Kasteel Well: The Netherlands

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I had a difficult time living at the castle, but prior to the Kasteel Well program I had never been to Europe and now I've visited 12 major European cities. I didn't get much time in each and I hope to return, but having someplace to live on the continent allowed me to be able to travel so many different places without having to fly across the Atlantic each time. You fly and travel a lot, but because you're based in Europe you always have a home to rest at during the middle of the week.

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.

This program's academics are sadly lacking. They are non-intensive, which is convenient because of the rigorous traveling, but it's like you're just paying to travel without real academic benefit. There are 1 or 2 teachers who are interesting and popular, and it's almost like the rest were just chosen at random off the street. We hear stories about professors who are strongly disliked and constantly negatively reviewed and yet the Kasteel program keeps them on staff instead of finding a replacement or canceling the course to prevent further student dissatisfaction with the program. Students are discouraged from dropping and switching courses, so if the course description is inaccurate or a student gets to the castle and realizes that the class is not for them, they are locked into that class for 3 months.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

In terms of administrative staff, going to the Kasteel program is like going to summer camp. The counselors all have their favorite campers, and although they are still friendly and helpful to others, it interrupts the community atmosphere somewhat.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

This is a common complaint about the castle, but the walls really are RIDICULOUSLY thin. Living in your hall is like living in a large suite of 15-20 people. You can hear everything anyone does, and we all routinely waited until the last people in the hall settled down in order to be able to go to sleep. Not having kitchens or even a microwave was a nightmare! Having no other options but the dining hall's very specific hours and eating out was difficult. It's hard to balance schoolwork and travel and also be told the exact hours of the day when you need to eat - again, it's very summer camp in that way.

* Food:

The food is simple and basically the same every day, which is understandable considering the amount of people it was made for. The dining hall staff were accommodating with group favorites and tried to make crowd-pleasers for dinner as often as they could.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The castle itself was difficult to adjust to, but the opportunity to travel and the experiences I had on the weekends made it all worthwhile! The only difficulty is that Well is so far from a transportation hub, it's expensive and time-consuming to take trains or cabs to the airports you have to go to in order to get low fares.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Well is a quiet town and I felt very safe the whole time I was there!

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)

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* 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? Living at Kasteel Well isn't all it's cracked up to be, but if you are outgoing and independent, the amazing experiences you will have traveling will make it all worthwhile.