The Farewell Issue
It's an oft-repeated cliché, but time does fly, especially in the fall, when the days get steadily shorter, darker, and -- in the case of many of our students -- a little sadder as the day they depart the Netherlands and return to the US draws near. This entire week, students have been coming by the office to say their goodbyes and, in the spirit of paying it forward, they have been leaving items that they no longer have any use for: from drying racks to hair dryers and used textbooks, our students have clearly been struck by a charitable impulse (that or the weight limit on their baggage!).
What our students will be taking home with them, apart from some hard-earned credits, is a stockpile of memories, some of which they collected by themselves, while others were shared with other CIEE students during one of the many CIEE activities that we organized this past term. Since the second issue of this newsletter, our students have had the chance to celebrate Thanksgiving (in the historic Schreierstoren, the very location that Henry Hudson departed from on his journey to North America), to explore the unique Bijlmer neighborhood of Amsterdam, and to tour the cities of Den Bosch and Eindhoven in the South of the country (replete with Bossche bollen!).
We capped off the semester with a Farewell Meeting, during which we not only informed students about such exciting topics as checking out of their housing and the many steps that go into producing a US transcript, but which also included yearbook-style polling (who would be most likely to live in Amsterdam for the rest of their lives; who might go on to become President of the United States, or even more prestigious pursuits such as, say, work for CIEE?) and a re-entry presentation that tried to prepare students for the "reverse culture shock" they may have to deal with when they arrive back home. We ended the evening in style, with a Farewell Dinner where everyone had the opportunity to say their goodbyes over some of the best food Amsterdam has to offer.
At the same time we are closing the books on one semester, we have been hard at work at preparing the next, which will begin in the last week of January. Although the foundation will remain the same, we are proud to be introducing a number of new additions to the program. First and foremost, we are adding two new courses to our roster of in-house courses: CIEE Dutch Business Culture and CIEE Beginning Dutch. The former is a natural extension of our Business and Culture program and will take an in-depth look at the business climate in the Netherlands, using Dutch businesses as case studies. The latter is the result of CIEE's continued commitment to having our students learn the fundamentals of the Dutch language and will represent a new and pragmatic approach to learning Dutch.
These two courses will join CIEE Contemporary Dutch Social Policy and CIEE Dutch Culture, our longstanding core courses, which means that our Spring 2014 students will now have four CIEE courses to choose from, along with our ever-expanding selection of Social Sciences and Business and Economics courses. Secondly, we are looking into launching a brand-new interest group: CIEE Book Club, which will have students and staff read books on aspects of Dutch and American life, after which we will sit down together to compare notes and reflect on the differences that separate, but also the ties that bind, our two countries and peoples.
For now, it is with a slightly heavy heart and a smile on our faces that we say goodbye to the Fall 2013 group, hoping (and trusting) that they will carry their memories and experiences of this past semester with them wherever they go.