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12/18/2014

SEMESTER WRAP-UP

BannerCity center campus life

Across from the CIEE Amsterdam Study Center we now have the brand new University of Amsterdam (UvA) campus, called Roeterseiland Campus, or in short REC. Where in the past only the Business & Culture students were so lucky to have the Faculty of Economics & Business so close by, now the campus also hosts Social Sciences and Law faculties there. The construction is will soon be finished with some landmarks left, such as the underground parking space which will store 700 bikes or the aligning of the pavement along with the design of the signs leading to the various faculties. 

Just like the owner of the local printing shop next door, Printerette, we are very happy with all these developments, our street is becoming so much more gezellig (the untranslatable Dutch word for cozy, the link explains it perfectly) with all the students, coffee places, a small movie theater, creative workshop center and many bakeries around.

Blog roeter

Sinterklaas & Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is arguably the one American holiday that our students regret missing the most. Although most of our students would agree that they have a great deal to be thankful for, they miss sitting around a table with their family to share their good fortune; it’s the time of year when even the most independent of our students feels a twinge of homesickness.

In order to make sure that our students don’t have to go out and track down a whole turkey at the grocery store (a veritable mission impossible!), and in the hopes of recreating what’s best about this uniquely American holiday right here in the Netherlands, we organized a CIEE Thanksgiving, replete with catered turkeys and a variety of pies brought in by a former CIEE student turned professional baker (who specializes in American baked goods and has set up shop in Amsterdam).

It’s up to the students to prepare a side dish, and we were happy to see that most students went beyond store-bought mashed potatoes and walked in with green bean casseroles, glazed carrots and the most delicious yams you’ve tasted this side of the Atlantic.

Adding immeasurably to the Thanksgiving feeling is the location we selected for our very own Dutch Thanksgiving: the Schreierstoren.

Schreier

Built in the late 15th century, the Schreierstoren (which translates literally to the “sharp-angled tower”) was part of Amsterdam’s original city wall, and has since become one of Amsterdam’s most overlooked icons. Owing to its diminutive stature, many tourists walk past the Schreierstoren without knowing that this was the very spot from which Henry Hudson set sail in 1609. Hoping to find a more direct route to China, Hudson ended up on the North American continent instead, where he sailed down the river that would later come to bear his name. Thanks to Hudson’s exploration of this area (which is now Albany, New York) the Dutch were able to stake their colonial claim, and five years later they founded a trading post that would later turn into the New Netherlands colony, bringing things full circle.

Only one week after Thanksgiving, the Dutch celebrate a uniquely Dutch holiday: Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas is based on Saint Nicholas, who according to Dutch lore, visits the Netherlands the night of December 5th, and rewards children who have been good with candy and presents. Children who have been bad end up in Sinterklaas’ book, or are abducted by one of Sinterklaas’ helpers and are taken back to Spain, where Sinterklaas lives for most of the year. (Needless to say, most parents choose not to implement this part of the legend.)

Especially for our students, we convinced Sinterklaas to pay a visit to the CIEE office, where he consulted his book to announce which students had behaved during their study abroad in Amsterdam. Sint

In keeping with the Dutch tradition of Secret Sint-a, students wrote each other short poems in which they poked fun at each other, but also gave each other gifts that helped to soften the repeated blows to students’ egos. If they didn’t do the trick, then the gallons of hot chocolate and pounds of Sinterklaas candy that were consumed helped lull our students into a forgiving sugar coma.

In short, CIEE students had a great time celebrating old and new traditions this semester!

Final meeting & farewell dinner

Last week we had our final meeting with students to discuss practical and re-entry items before going home. We wrapped up the meeting with an interesting Ted talk about the value of travel by Rick Steves, which left the students with many inspiring thoughts about going home. Then we went for a traditional Dutch farewell dinner in the city center, with Hutspot as the main dish!

Get Gezellig: CIEE Magazine

Every semester our News & Media Interest Group creates a wonderful magazine. This semester’s theme was Dutch lifestyle, it is very useful for future students  with articles like Attending University vs. Going to College, To Fiets or not to Fiets (fiets = bike), Albert Heijn, (the famous Dutch supermarket.) Click on the link to have a read; CIEE Amsterdam magazine 

Kudos to Cathy, Valerie, Christina, Kaitlyn, Rosalie, Abbie, Jessi and Karen & Marieke as their Dutch Interest Group leaders for creating an amazing magazine!

Preview of the next semester

Although this final newsletter is mostly about looking back, we would like to take a couple of paragraphs to look ahead to the upcoming Spring 2015 semester. First and foremost, we could not be more excited (if, admittedly, also a little anxious!) about announcing that we will have at least 87 students studying in Amsterdam next semester, a new record in the history of the CIEE Amsterdam Study Center! We look forward to welcoming this largest group ever on January 26th, when we will pick up our students up from Schiphol Airport and kick off a whirlwind Introduction Week.

Some of our Spring 2015 students have already been enrolled into the newest addition to our roster of CIEE classes: CIEE Screen Cultures. In response to the increasing demand of students to take a Humanities course while studying in Amsterdam (and, specifically, a Film/Television/Media Studies course), we have designed a course that will cater specially to these students’ needs.

CIEE Screen Cultures from the premise that we live mediated lives, and that the visual media texts we consume on a daily basis shape our understanding of the world around us, before exploring the ways in which media at large – and film and television, in particular – produce meaning, articulate ideology and identity, and both reflect and effect cultural change. After a critical introduction to the historical development and formal elements of film and television, as well as an overview of the major theoretical approaches that inform the study of popular culture, CIEE Screen Cultures will focus in on (a) the representation of race, gender, and sexuality, and (b) the global circulation, reception and cultural translation of historically and culturally situated visual media texts (with a specific focus on the cross-cultural mediation of Dutch identity).

We are thrilled to launch CIEE Screen Cultures next semester, when it will join our already existing lineup of CIEE classes, which include CIEE Dutch Culture, CIEE Beginning Dutch Language, CIEE Contemporary Dutch Social Policy, CIEE Dutch Business Culture and CIEE Dutch Public Health.

In short, next semester will be a semester of firsts in more ways than one -- at least two! -- and you can expect to read more about them in our first newsletter of the new semester, which should land in your inboxes sometime in February.

For now, we would like to thank you for reading this newsletter (as well as the two that preceded it), and we wish you and your family all the best in the New Year!

Best (season) wishes,

Jonathan Key and Cato van Hees
Program Coordinators Social Sciences and Business and Culture

12/05/2014

A SEMESTER ABROAD IN AMSTERDAM IS COMING TO A QUICK END

Since the beginning of my semester abroad in Amsterdam, I have completed half of my course load, traveled around Western Europe, and have formed a love-hate relationship with my bike. The past few months have flown by and I know the last few weeks will be no different. With one last trip scheduled for this Thanksgiving weekend to Geneva, Switzerland, it will be the eighteenth city in the seventh country I have visited. This has been a unique experience of a lifetime. I know that even if I return back to Europe one day, that experience will not be the same as the one I have had this past semester.Shawn 2

While abroad I have learned a lot about Europeans. But I think one of the common threads that cross all of the cultures I have seen here is that Europeans love to just enjoy life. A few months ago when I was in Paris, one of the most amazing things I had ever seen was the number of people hanging out, drinking wine, and just people watching on the grassy area around the Eiffel Tower. Then a few weeks ago while in Florence, I tried to see every basilica, climb every tower, and visit every museum in the day I was there. But when I visited Rome a few days later, I realized how that was such a big mistake as I deprived myself of just slowing down and appreciating the beauty of the city and the people. While visiting a friend from GW studying in Milan, one evening we enjoyed aperitivo for a few hours, without feeling rushed or needing to be somewhere. And while here in Amsterdam, having the ability to just sit and enjoy a cup of coffee at a café or ride my bike down a new street or along a canal has allowed me to just think about and appreciate where I am in the world right now.  Venice

In my last three weeks here as I reflect on my study abroad experience, I know that the last few months have been difficult, but yet so worthwhile. When I think about my time abroad, I think about the time I hiked for four and a half miles along the mountainside of Cinque Terre in Italy last month. I never hike, I was alone, I did not know what I was getting myself into, and I was not really prepared. It was one of the toughest afternoons I have had here, but when it was over, I felt a great sense of accomplishment and pride I do not think I have felt in a while. The hike was hard and at points I wanted to turn around and just use the train to get from village to village. However, I persisted and I am glad I went outside of my comfort zone because otherwise, I would never have experienced and seen one of the most beautiful places in the world. ShawnI am very thankful that I had this opportunity to go abroad.

Happy Holidays!

Shawn Mok is a junior in GWSB pursuing a BBA with a dual concentration in International Business and Business, Economics, and Public Policy.  

12/02/2014

Sustainability Excursion: CIEE heads to the farm(s)!

On a grey and chilly Saturday morning, CIEE Amsterdam students joined forces with their fellow students from CIEE Groningen for a day on the farm. Actually on two farms! Our colleague in Groningen, Fjaere van der Stok, wrote about our experience:

"Co-organized with Caroline, my Amsterdam colleague and aficionada of all things green and wellness-related, the goal of Sustainability Day is to provide CIEE students with contrasting perspectives on Dutch agricultural methodology. As a nation that prides itself on its produce and dairy and heavily subsidizes the production of both, the Netherlands may be a highly urbanized country, but it's also actively engaged in maintaining rural spaces through its investment in agriculture. Since our students spend much of their time in urban Amsterdam and Groningen, Sustainability Day is a great opportunity for them to glimpse how the rest of the Netherlands rolls. And for those of our students that have spent much of their lives in big cities, it’s also a chance to pat cute calves and see first-hand what goes into milking a cow (with and without robots) and sowing a field (always with GPS).

Calf @ polderzoom boerderij

This semester, we spent the morning at De Polderzoom, a family farm that prides itself on producing and selling its own cheeses. Ard, a lifelong farmer, works on his farm seven days a week, welcoming his 160 cows into their milking stalls twice daily (these days, his shoulders lock up somewhat around 130) and enjoying their rodeo antics when his opens the barn doors in the spring.

Cows @ polderzoom
 

 After a giant lunch spread at a locally-sourced restaurant that included vegetable soup, savory Dutch pancakes with ragout filling (so good!) and vanilla vla (pudding, sort of) topped with fresh cream and fruit, our second tour began. In contrast to the more traditional methods of De Polderzoom, the Almere Stadsboerderij, or City Farm, is grounded in biodynamic philosophy and the passion of its visionary founder, Tineke. What started as a dream of integrating farming seamlessly into the local community has evolved into a multifaceted hub of eco-activity that includes a work-study program, a weekly organic farmer’s market, and a shop selling local wares. 

4The “Insect Hotel” at the Stadsboerderij: because all members of a farm’s ecosystem should be actively supported.

5Tineke illustrating how integral a cow’s horns are to its well-being with the help of an old friend."

 

11/20/2014

Fall 2014, Issue II

Newsletter Banner Amsterdam

PAST THE HALFWAY MARK

Social Sciences

It is hard to believe that our students only have a month left in Amsterdam; it seems like just yesterday that we them picked up at the airport, but time flies when you're exploring Amsterdam, travelling around Europe, joining Interest Group Activities such as cookie decorating workshops and learning how to draw in the Rijksmuseum, attending a dinner prepared and hosted by a member of staff, and, oh yes, studying!

With 78 students studying in Amsterdam this semester, the office has been a hub of activity, but we have been trying our best to keep them busy! Apart from our regular lineup of Special Interest Group activities, we invited the students to sample Dutch cuisine that was prepared for them by none other than us, the staff, which allowed the students to see how Dutch people live, eat, and prepare a three-course meal while juggling a full-time job.

November is also the month in which we organize a number of cultural activities (broadly defined), to make sure that students do not fall behind on their cultural education. Students had the opprtunity to choose between an avant-grade play, a classical rendition of Swan Lake by the National Dutch Ballet or a soccer match between the Netherlands and Latvia. The ballet performance and the soccer match proved the most popular, and both involved a sartorial transformation that many of our students took to heart! Given that the Netherlands is not a country that is big on formality, many students had been raring to break out their formal wear, and the faithful and moving adaptation of Tchaikovski's arguably most popular ballet piece proved the perfect (and perhaps sole) opportunity for them to dress up.

Ballet

In much the same way, cheering on the Dutch team in the Amsterdam ArenA required a change of clothes, although the items students selected for this event were of a slightly more colorful variety. Decked out in orange T-shirts, necklaces and other Dutch regalia, our students' clapping and chanting helped propel the Netherlands to a 5-0 victory over Latvia -- a victory they desperately needed in order to advance to the next round of the UEFA championship.

Lastly, we organized two full-day excursions that highlighted different sides of life in the Netherlands. While our Historical Trip to Groningen focused in on the history and recent development of a major Dutch city that is removed from the cultural and economic heart of the country (the so-called "Randstad," which is anchored by the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague), our Sustainability Trip to two farms in the middle of the coutry traded in city life for a look at life on the farm -- the 21st-century farm.

Daytrip Groningen

The first farm students visited was a largely sun-powered farm and cheese factory, where students received a guided tour of his facilities, had the chance to meet the cows that produce the milk Farmer Ard uses to manufacture his own cheeses, and were able to see for themselves how the cows are milked, and learned more about his artisanal cheese-making, as well as the aging process of dairy. At the second farm, aptly called the "City Farm," students were introduced to the practice of biodynamic farming, a farming philosophy which treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks. Students discovered that Farmer Tineke's cows are fed with alfalfa, beets, and corn grown right on her farm, while the calves grow up with their mothers and subsist on her milk alone.

Fun on the farm (2)

Business & Culture

Business & Culture students are officially halfway the semester; the first block of courses is completed and examined; now they only have the second block left.

After our successful visit to the Heineken factory in the first half of the semester, we decided to go to a completely different company for the latter part of the term. This way, students don’t just learn about conglomerates like Heineken, they will also get a glance at how it all starts; by Dutch entrepreneurship.

Konnektid is a young dot-com creating the opportunity for people to learn new skills in their very own neighborhood. Through a map on their website they enable people to find and get in touch with others whom they share an interest or skill with, which they wouldn’t have found easily by themselves. Find out how it works, click on the video.

We’re meeting with Konnektid’s CEO and founder, Michel Visser, a former theater actor whose main passion is bringing people together, but he is also an expert on entrepreneurship, networking and the sharing economy. He will introduce us to the story and business model of Konnektid and perhaps he’ll motivate us to start our very own companies one day. Years of storytelling and acting make Michel one of the world’s most interesting men.

Konnektid is located in the Impact Hub of Amsterdam, the host of multiple modern companies active in the fields of sharing economy, renewable energy, CSR strategists, web and IT specialists, clean tech and green startups, architects, advocates, social workers, students and more.

Weekend homestays

The last part of this newsletter is dedicated to our weekend homestays, being a truly intercultural experience for our students. In Amsterdam most students opt to live in a dorm or the Student Hotel, only a handful of students decide to live with a homestay family. So, we offer students a mini-homestay so they do get the intercultural experience they would have had if they were in a homestay; a weekend with a Dutch family.

This semester about 15 students are participating in a weekend homestay. Once signed up, we match students to their families based on shared interests, hobbies and preferences. Although it means getting out of your comfort zone at first, students often have the best time learning about Dutch lifestyles. For example, making art with your new host mum on Friday, going to a field hockey match with the kids on Saturday, eating a wide variety of sprinkles on your bread for breakfast on Sunday.

That's it for this second newsletter of the semester; keep an eye on your inbox for our third newsletter, which will recap the last month of students' stay in the Netherlands and will feature write-ups of the Dutch holiday of Sinterklaas, our CIEE Thanksgiving Dinner and our Farewell activities (which we do not want to think about just yet!).

All best wishes,

Jonathan Key and Cato van Hees

http://ciee.typepad.com/.a/6a010536fa9ded970b01b8d06eb85e970c-pi

Program Coordinator Social Sciences

http://ciee.typepad.com/.a/6a010536fa9ded970b01b7c6e4c749970b-pi

Program Coordinator Business and Culture

 

11/07/2014

Groupdinner @ Jonathan's

 

            During the past two weeks, our very generous CIEE staff has opened their homes to host small group dinner parties for the students. Each of the staff members, Reneé, Jonathan, Caroline, and Cato, scheduled either one or two dates for dinner and sent an invite to all 78 students in the program. Since Dutch homes tend to be on the smaller side, the spots available for each dinner were awarded on a first come, first serve basis.

            I was quick with my RSVP and secured a spot for Jonathan’s dinner on Thursday, October 30. He promised us exciting conversation and a traditional Belgian dish accompanied by sweets, so I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed.

            After a short bike ride to Oud-West, a part of the city I hadn’t previously been to, I was pleasantly surprised (and a bit confused) to be greeted by Reneé. Turns out Jonathan and Reneé decided to combine their dinners. Good news for me, I got to enjoy two home-cooked meals!

            Jonathan made a delicious beef stew paired with mashed potatoes and red cabbage; a Belgian recipe from his mom! Reneé prepared lasagna with meat and fresh vegetables from a local market. Both dishes smelt delicious from the moment I walked in, and tasted even better! They were just what I needed on such a chilly, fall night. As promised, dinner was followed by sweets. I was introduced to two typical Dutch desserts, Vla and roze koek, both of which were extremely tasty. Vla is a dairy product comparable to pudding, and roze koek (pink cake) is a pastry with a moose-like cream filling and pink frosting.

            Between reviewing Taylor Swift’s latest album, discussing various TV shows and actors, and learning more about Dutch culture and life in Amsterdam, the time flew by. We didn’t leave Jonathan’s until around 11pm, about four hours after we arrived, but I wouldn’t have wanted to leave a second sooner! It was great to be able to hang out with other students that I normally wouldn’t see and hear about their experiences in Amsterdam thus far.

After being in Amsterdam for around two months, I was truly grateful for the opportunity to enjoy two home-cooked meals! Yet again, the CIEE staff really out-did themselves!

Christina Kozlow - College of Charleston

Read more about Christina's adventures: https://adamgoodtime.wordpress.com/

10/17/2014

CIEE Photo Contest Amsterdam

Here are the results of our very first CIEE Photo Contest in Amsterdam! All photos were taken in the Netherlands and each category has a winner. The grand prize was a Coffee Company gift card, a coffee place conveniently located close to the CIEE Amsterdam Study Center.

NATURE

The winning photo is taken by Aaron Friedman-Heiman (Social Sciences, fall 2014) on a bike ride from Amsterdam to Utrecht with his friend Jordan.   Aaron Friedman Heiman_Jo Money_Jordan Shaw biking to Utrecht_October_Nature or People

PEOPLE

The second best photo was taken by Victor Jin Chieh Goh; it was taken on a skating park on Java Eiland, an island in the Ij canal.  Victor Jin Chieh Goh_People_de buist-buil_October

PLACES

The third best photo was taken by Maria Morris and resembles the typical houses and colors of the Netherlands.  It's the view from the University Library in the city center of Amsterdam.Places_view from the library on singel_Maria Morris_October

It was a though call for us judges, these were some of the other photos that students handed in;  Image Image (1)

Thank you photographers!

Jonathan, Renée, Caroline and Cato

09/24/2014

Running from Dam to Dam with CIEE!

A couple of sore-legged days have passed since nine CIEE students took the start line of the Dam tot Damloop race, one of the biggest races in Europe and the world. It was brisk Sunday morning, perfect running weather with a slight breeze, when 65,000 runners from all over Europe participated in the 30thanniversary of the Dam to Dam. With the first gun sounding off at 10:30 and our team’s starting time a short 5 minutes after, the ten miles seemed more unbearable than one could have imagined.

Having hardly trained (I only found out nine days before the run that I was racing because a spot had opened up), I undoubtedly felt intimidated by the thousands of athletes who wore matching shirts with their teammates intensely warming up. Ten miles seemed like a lot to me, considering I hadn’t ran that much at one time, let alone raced it, since my cross country days in high school. Nevertheless, the opportunity was one I couldn’t pass up, so I signed up and on Sunday morning I rode my bike anxiously to meet up with my CIEE team. Dam tot dam 2

The nine of us took the start line together at about 10:15, chatting about how we just wanted it to start so we could get it over with it, while simultaneously competing over who of us was going to get come in last (thankfully the last group went off at 15:00, so it would’ve been quite tough to be the actual last person to finish the race). As our 10:35 gun went off, my usual cross country race-mode-adrenaline kicked in, and off we all went. What I didn’t know when I first ran away from the start line, however, was the beauty and camaraderie I would experience on this unforgettable ten mile trek from Prins Hendrikkade to the heart of Zaandam.  Running cross country and track for four years in high school and always having a craving for long runs and races, I have seen a lot of trails and raced a lot of races in my life. But until the Dam to Dam race, I had never experienced so much magnificence in my surroundings and unyielding encouragement from bystanders I did not know. The second we came out the first tunnel that marked 2 kilometers, we were met with a band performing on one side, and cheering fans on the other. The constant chatter from the sidelines revitalized me, and was one of the main reasons I didn’t slow down the whole race.  Dam tot Dam 3
We ran along beautiful stretches of water and green fields, with marching bands, singers, musicians, and DJs every half a kilometer. There was never once a quiet point in the race, which I found quintessential in helping me ignore my aching legs and tired lungs. The different types of noise flooding my ears every other minute also made the race go by incredibly fast and helped keep me from checking my watch every second.

When we weren’t hearing music, we were running through neighborhoods that looked like they could be in a fairytale—narrow roads with brick cottages that had streams running in front of them and a mini-bridge to walk on to get to the front door. All along these neighborhoods little children and their families were cheering at us in Dutch (I think) and although I couldn’t understand the big signs they made or their cheers, the inspiration and support was awe-inspiring. The amity I felt with everyone on the sidelines and the people running the race with me was enough to help me push through to the finish.

Although the last couple of miles were tough, the hundreds and hundreds of people lining the finish made it easy and worthwhile. Once I crossed the finish line and received a medal, although my legs were mad at me for the agony I had just put them through, I knew I had made the right decision in signing up for the Dam to Dam race. Once everyone on our team finished and we had all gathered together, we all had the same reaction of “Wow, we just participated in an once-in-a-lifetime experience, and although it hurt, we wouldn’t take it back.” A big thanks to CIEE for giving us the opportunity to partake in this one in a lifetime event! Dam tot Dam

MK Trotter
Student Fall 2014

09/22/2014

FALL 2014, ISSUE I

Banner

Arrival Fall 2014

On August 18th we welcomed our largest group so far; 78 students from all over the United States here in Amsterdam to discover the country, culture and academics. After settling into their new homes and perhaps a little catnap, students were invited for an authentic Indonesian rice table at a restaurant in the heart of the city.

On the next day, we arranged the students’ main means of transport, which in Amsterdam is a bike.  After bringing their new bicycle (and soon to be trusted friend) home, our students started their adventure with the International Student Network (ISN). The ISN is part of the Erasmus Student Network that is active in 36 countries; their aim is to optimize social and cultural integration of international students in Amsterdam. Each semester over 1,000 international students join ISN for an introduction week in Amsterdam.

After the hustle and bustle of ISN, we started with our very own CIEE orientation, with the aim to bring students up to speed on the academic culture in the Netherlands at large and at the University of Amsterdam in particular, our very own CIEE courses, our activities and Interest Groups, and much more. To wrap it all up, we went on an orientation daytrip to Haarlem and Wijk aan Zee, the former being the capital of the province of North Holland (and an erstwhile competitor of Amsterdam for the most prominent city in the Netherlands), while the latter is the prime beach spot for Amsterdammers.  
Orientation
Social Sciences

Although the Netherlands does not have a Liberal Arts tradition per se, the University of Amsterdam’s College of Social Sciences is the closest analogue, offering students a wide variety of courses in such disciplines as Communications, Political Science, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Anthropology, and Urban Studies. Each year, the College of Social Sciences organizes their own Introduction Day for all of the international students who enroll at the College, and this year CIEE students made up more than a third of the entire student body, which is a testament both to the city of Amsterdam’s continued popularity and the University of Amsterdam’s pursuit of academic excellence.

During this Orientation, students heard from the Dean of the College of Social Sciences, who emphasized the crucial role the Social Sciences play in our increasingly volatile and politically unstable world. One of our very own CIEE students, who studied in Amsterdam in the spring and decided she was not ready to say goodbye to Amsterdam just yet, shared her insights on living in Amsterdam, budgeting wisely, and getting used to the Dutch classroom. (She was paid for her enthusiasm in fair trade Dutch chocolate!). After a stand-up comedy show that poked fun at Dutch customs and biking habits, students went on a canal tour of the Amsterdam canals and celebrated the beginning of the academic year (and their last days of freedom) with bitterballen (“bitter balls”), fried meat balls with a gooey meat stew in the middle, a Dutch delicacy that words do not fully do justice to.

Business and Culture

The Business and Culture program is already in its third week of classes, which means that the first midterm exams are around the corner. To give you a bit of a context, a semester at the Faculty of Economics and Business is split up into two blocks of eight weeks, during which students generally follow 5 courses. These courses typically consist of two lectures per week; students’ progress is continually tested in the form of a midterm exam, multiple check-in assignments and a final exam.

After the first midterms, however, we have a fantastic company visit to the Heineken factory coming up.Being the second largest beer brewer of the world, Heineken is one of the most popular and largest corporations in the Netherlands, amongst other leading Dutch companies such as Unilever (have a look at their brands in the US), Ahold (the parent company of famous Albert Heijn) and Royal Dutch Shell (one of the 6 oil and gas super majors).

During the visit we will have a look at how this mega factory operates on a daily basis. Please click on the link to see how National Geographic reported on the Heineken factory when they paid the factory a visit.

A weekend in Belgium

Every semester, CIEE staff take students on a three-day overnight excursion that usually features sleeping in bunk beds, a lot of biking and/or walking, a pub quiz to test students’ knowledge of the Netherlands (and CIEE staff!), a barbecue, and attempts at making s’mores over a campfire that invariably pales in comparison to the campfires of their youth (tireless efforts of CIEE staff notwithstanding).

This year, we decided to shake things up a bit by taking our three-day excursion on the road -- to Belgium, the Netherlands’ neighbor to the south. In the hopes that students would appreciate the change of scenery, we departed by bus from Amsterdam to the town of Gouvy, a small town located in the heart of the Ardennes, a hilly and forest-covered region that stretches from the southern provinces of Belgium into Luxemburg, Germany and France.

In Gouvy, students stayed in a retrofitted farm house and, in keeping with a Dutch saying that “many hands make light work,” everyone had to pitch in in one way or another: while some students cleared tables and rinsed dishes, others set up breakfast or were assigned to a cleaning crew. While the first night at the form was spent playing board games, the weekend started in earnest the next day, when we visited the Bastogne War Museum, a museum that commemorates the decisive role the town of Bastogne played in World War II. Through of the eyes of three eye witnesses (a local schoolteacher, an American soldier, and his German counterpart), and aided by a series of filmic vignettes shown in recreated environments, students gained an insight into the origins, progress and denouement of the war, which was in its last throes when, in December 1944, American troops successfully held on to the town of Bastogne and staved off a final German counteroffensive.ArdennenStudents visit the Mardasson Memorial, erected to commemorate the many American soldiers who lost their lives liberating the town of Bastogne, the country of Belgium, and the European continent.

After this sobering reminder of the horrors of war, students went on a nature walk through the Ardennes forests, where they learned about the history of forest management techniques, edible plants and berries, and last but certainly not least, about the beaver and the crucial role it plays in the ecosystem of the Ardennes. After a pub quiz that tested students’ wits (and a good night’s rest), students packed their bags and boarded the bus back north, with one important pit stop along the way: the Caves of Remouchamps. Students made their way through this cave complex both on foot, and by boat, since the Caves of Remouchamps feature the longest subterranean boat ride (coming in at 2,000 feet) in a cave in the world.

We are happy to report that all students emerged from the caves -- and our trip to Belgium -- in one piece, and we hope that this newsletter has given you the chance to share in their (and our) excitement as we all embark on this new semester.

Foto newsletter Jonathan
Jonathan Key
Social Sciences Program Coordinator 

Foto newsletter cato
Cato van Hees
Business & Culture Program Coordinator

07/07/2014

Spring 2014, Issue III

Newsletter Banner Amsterdam

BITTERSWEET GOODBYES

Every single semester, it seems likes time speeds up a little, and before anyone of us at the CIEE Amsterdam Study Center realized it (or could think twice about invoking the same tired cliché: time, flies, fun), we were sitting across from our Spring students during a Farewell Dinner that seemed to have come out of nowhere. This semester, that process was hastened by the arrival of our first group of summer students, who arrived in Amsterdam for an intensive four-week program mere days after the official end of the Spring semester. Also contributing to the warp speed with which this last semester flew by were the many activities we organized for our students, which I am happy to discuss in more detail below.

INTEREST GROUP WRAP-UP

Students routinely cite our Interest Group activities as a major boon to the two programs we offer in Amsterdam, and this semester was no different. (With student evaluations having already come in, this is an assertion backed up by fact!) In the last number of weeks that rounded out the Spring semester, students had the opportunity to participate in a wide range of activities that underscored the many ways our students can experience first-hand life in Amsterdam and the Netherlands.

Arguably the best example of our students' integration into the Netherlands is how they cheered on the Netherlands in the Eurovision Song Contest, an annual singing competition in which forty-odd countries from Europe (as well as some of the bordering countries, such as Russia, Israel and Turkey) duke it out for the title of the best song and performer in (greater) Europe. For this year's 59th edition of the competition, our Study Center's classroom was transformed into the viewing location for a CIEE Eurovision Watch Party, with students loudly rooting for the Netherlands -- who ended up coming in second place! Although nominally an event organized by the Queer Interest Group (the Eurovision Song Contest has long been the gay community's favorite televised competition), everyone was welcome to attend and some 20 students witnessed the crowning of Conchita Wurst, whose power ballad "Rise like a Phoenix" propelled Austria to victory. 

Students had a chance to work off the calories that were consumed during said Watch Party (pizzas were ordered) during the Sport in Amsterdam Interest Group's Survival Forest Climbing activity, when our students had a chance to let their inner Tarzan and Jane shine. They proved themselves to be masters of the ropes and wooden bridges, rappelling from one tree to the next without fear. Equally determined, and showing even more stamina, this recap of our Interest Group's activities would not be complete without singling out the amazing achievement of our News and Media Interest Group. This past semester, a dedicated group of students worked tirelessly to produce their own magazine, which they gave the name Hidden Gems of Amsterdam. This magazine -- to which they not only contributed every article, but designed as well! -- focuses on some of Amsterdam's lesser known attractions, and will serve as an indispensable guide for our incoming Fall students. In the spirit of paying it forward, our Spring semester students have selected the best Amsterdam has to offer in terms of culture, food and drink, and I am positive that this magazine will be an invaluable resource for future students in years to come!

Hidden Gems of Amsterdam

FINAL GENERAL MEETING AND FAREWELL DINNER

As is true every single semester, CIEE staff said goodbye to students by both providing them with the tools to make their re-entry in the US as successful as possible, and by wishing them well in all their future endeavors during a Farewell Dinner. During the Farewell Meeting, staff not only reminded students of their academic obligations (e.g. preferably handing in those final papers before their flight back home), but also shared with them some of the re-entry challenges they might face when arriving back in the U.S. Some of the strategies that were covered were avoiding direct comparisons, negotiating the demands some people may have to condense their study abroad experience in a maximum of three sentences, and keeping the ties to their adopted country alive. After the Farewell Meeting, students and staff made their way to the Farewell Dinner, where they reminisced together about the semester, over dishes selected from a special CIEE menu that also functioned as a throwback to one of their first (and most memorable) excursions. 

Farewell Dinner Menu

A PREVIEW OF COMING ATTRACTIONS

Although we are currently still in the throes of summer -- the CIEE Amsterdam Study Centers offers four-week programs in Contemporary Dutch Social PolicyDutch Business Culture, and Public Health -- we are also hard at work at laying the groundwork for the Fall semester, which, with 77 students arriving in Amsterdam in August, promises to be our biggest yet! I am happy to announce that we will be offering those students a brand new CIEE course, which will join our existing roster of CIEE courses in Dutch CultureDutch LanguageDutch Business Culture, and Contemporary Dutch Social Policy.

In recognition of the increasing global importance of managing health care (systems) -- and building on the success of the previously mentioned summer program in Public Health -- CIEE Amsterdam is launching a course in Dutch Public Health.

CIEE Dutch Public Health is a semester-long/6 ECTS (3 US credit) course that critically examines the organization of public health services in the Netherlands. This course will not only explore the nature of the Dutch healthcare system, but will analyze the ways in which the Dutch deal with a number of health-related issues, from childbirth to elderly care and from mental health to euthanasia. While grounded in and contextualized by readings, the course is supplemented by lectures from guest speakers from the field as well as class excursions to health care facilities in Amsterdam, which illustrate the real-world relevance of the subject matter discussed in class.

With both this new CIEE course and a historic number of students, I think I speak for all CIEE Amsterdam staff when I say that we could not be more excited about the Fall 2014 semester -- which I look forward to briefing you about sometime in the Fall!

Until then, have a wonderful summer,

Jonathan Key
Program Coordinator Social Sciences

Jonathan, collar


06/04/2014

A Dutch family-for-a-weekend!

For my weekend homestay, I visited the Thuring’s family in Amersfoort. During the weekend homestay you spend a weekend with a Dutch family! I arrived on Friday at 11:30am and the mom and I drove home (first time in a car since I’ve been here!) then biked to pick up the kids.IMG_2928The girl, Silke was 6 years old, and the boy, Wilko was 4 ½ years old. They were both adorable!! We got home, had a picnic outside, played jump rope and other games with some other neighborhood kids, and baked brownies. The kids also had a little fight because Silke accidentally let go of Wilko’s balloon outside and it flew away. However, all was forgiven by the time we took the kids to swimming lessons.IMG_2918On Saturday, we drove for an hour to Alkmaar where they were having their once-a-year family gathering with the father’s 11 siblings and their families. We played a lot of traditional dutch games such as “nail pooping” and shulen! It ended with a giant feast of Italian food! What an awesome fun Dutch weekend!IMG_2986Groetjes,

Jelene Wong,
Spring 2014