A new chapter begins in Amsterdam!
Arrival, orientation, and the city of Amsterdam
When students arrived at Schiphol Airport on August 19th, they were welcomed not only by a CIEE staff member, but by something which the Netherlands only extends to its favorite guests: sunshine. It was a glorious late-summer morning when students boarded the bus from the airport to the inner city, where they first registered with the housing company, became official residents of the municipality of Amsterdam and, if they wanted to, opened a Dutch bank account. After swinging by their respective dorms for a lighting-fast check-in and bag-drop, students were picked up by CIEE staff and escorted to the General Introduction, which was held in the beautiful Bushuis of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), a lasting reminder of the Netherlands' erstwhile prominence on the world scene.
During the General Introduction, the five resident staff members who together run the CIEE Amsterdam Study Center and its two programs (Renée, Annabel, Caroline, Cato and me) introduced themselves, their specific duties and responsibilities, as well as one weird/fun/slightly embarrassing fact. We then turned things over to the students, who followed suit and briefly introduced themselves, while also shared their varied reasons for choosing to study abroad in the Netherlands. During the remainder of the General Introduction, CIEE staff outlined many of the topics that would be revisited in much more detail later that week: from living in the Netherlands, to getting around in Amsterdam and studying at the UvA. More extensive introductions took place immediately following the General Introduction, when the students got to know each other a little better during a pancake dinner on an old-fashioned Dutch pancake boat, which ferried students and staff across the river IJ.
While the International Student Network took over for the rest of week, CIEE introductions continued the next week, when students attended in-depth presentions on housing, academics, integration and CIEE activities. The picture used in the banner above was taken on our first CIEE daytrip, which had students explore the Zuiderzee Museum, an open-air museum that was founded in 1948 to commemorate the former villages that were fundamentally reshaped when the Zuiderzee was bisected and turned into the IJssel Lake and the Wadden Sea.
The two-week introduction period ended with a presentation organized by the UvA's Faculty of Social Sciences, which included a two-hour boat trip that criss-crossed the Amsterdam canal system, with a special focus on the history of the university, which is closely intertwined with that of the history of the city itself.
To be continued: classes, special interest group activities and excursions
Although the focus has now shifted to students' classes (the academic year officially began on September 2), a host of CIEE-organized excursions, special interest group activities and trips give students the chance to take a well-earned break from studying. That said, from sampling Dutch cuisine to witnessing Prinsjesdag (the beginning of the governmental and political year) and retracing the history of Amsterdam as a gay capital, CIEE activities are designed to be both informative and a good time. Now that our newsletters are fully integrated into the CIEE blog, you simply need to scroll down to read all about the abovementioned activities in much more detail.
For now, I hope you have enjoyed reading this first newsletter of the Fall 2013 term; the second one will make its way onto the blog by late October, when it will take stock of the term at its halfway point.
All best wishes,
Program Coordinator Social Sciences