Awesome Amsterdam Adventure February 01, 2016

By (Environmental Studies, Macalester College) - abroad from 08/17/2015 to 12/19/2015 with

IES Abroad: Amsterdam - Study in Amsterdam with IES Abroad

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about myself as this was my first time living on my own. Also learned how to bike a whole lot better which is definitely a skill to hold on to. Became a better traveler, came out of my shell, and overall just a great personal growth and cultural experience.

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.

Took classes at the University of Amsterdam. Found the courses rigorous enough to be interesting and definitely felt that the professors were passionate about their subjects. Classes met for a total of four hours per week which was incredibly manageable and the seminar style allowed for me to interact with Dutch and international students in a way that would not have been possible otherwise. Very much enjoyed the classes I took.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I did not interact often with the on-site administration except for orientation and two CORE meetings to check our progress. Had no issues so for the most part was quite satisfied with how the administration handled my enrollment.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Enjoyed the living situation. Lived in student studio apartments with a roommate in a large housing complex. Very safe area and incredibly easy to get around. Some overall issues with construction noise and issues with smell towards the end but definitely contributed positively to my overall experience.

* Food:

Cooked for myself, had many fun adventures in learning Dutch through grocery shopping. Everything fairly affordable and easy to interact at restaurants.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Felt most integrated when in class and working on projects with Dutch students but outside of the classroom mainly interacted with people on my program and other international students met through orientation. Definitely had to work hard to maintain relationships with Dutch students.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Did not have any experience with issues but had friends who did. Seemed that the program adequately prepared participants for the Dutch health care system.

* Safety:

Felt incredibly safe in the city, especially as a female. Biking was incredibly fun and safe, just make sure you keep to the right on the bike paths and don't run red lights. Overall between biking, walking and using public transit the city was incredibly accessible and as long as you practice the same kinds of safety as at home you will be fine.

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

Program provided a lot of independence which is something I wanted. Was able to engage with Dutch culture while also having the opportunity to travel throughout Europe. Overall great people great location definitely recommend.

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)

Easy to be cheap in Amsterdam, very affordable compared to other European cities though things like nice dinners and going out to clubs will be more expensive. Budget wisely.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50-$60, amount increased when traveling (trips all around $200)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Get a museum card if you like museums as there are a ton. Lots of student discounts. Make a budget for travel expenses this will help keep you sane. Open a Dutch bank account if you want to use a card otherwise you'll need to use cash. Make plans early for travel, look into bus travel for cheaper options.

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

There was a class available but I did not take it. Little engagement and most Dutch spoke English.

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? I took some lessons on DuoLingo
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Look up items in Dutch before grocery shopping, it'll help.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Apartment
* 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?
  • Meeting people from all over
  • Exploring Amsterdam
  • Travel opportunities
* What could be improved?
  • More interaction with Dutch students outside of classroom
  • More cohesion amongst the UvA and VU parts of the program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Wish I hadn't worried so much. Also that the word lekker is used for everything and doesn't just mean delicious (led to a lot of confusion to start with).

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.