Not sure what program is right for you? Click Here

© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Study Abroad in

Back to Program Back to Blog Home

5 posts from September 2012


Feeling like a freshman again


After what felt like a never-ending vacation, classes finally started today. I walked to the classroom over the weekend so I knew exactly where it was. Located near Dam Square, it’s about a 30 minute walk from my dorm. Next week, I’m going to try to bike there but to be safe, I decided to walk with a classmate today. The forecast had predicted rain but it turned out to be a beautiful day (*On a side note, never trust…the weather here changes so quickly that it’s almost pointless to try to predict it). However, the 9 and 14 tram practically take me to my classroom so I have a rainy/snowy day strategy already planned for when those winter days come.

Ironically, my first class in Amsterdam was titled “The American Western and its Impact on Global Film Culture.” At first, I wasn’t too excited to get this class. I had signed up for all the film classes and The American Western was the only one that had enough space. However, after reading the syllabus, I realized that most of the films we are watching are adaptations of the Western in different countries, such as Italy and Japan. I haven’t seen many foreign films so I’m excited to broaden my taste. Although the class is four hours long, it only meets once a week. In addition, the first two hours are taken up by the movie screening. After a short break, the professor gives a lecture on the film we just watched.

While, I’m glad that school is finally starting, this class is definitely making me a little nervous. First off, we were supposed to read six articles for class today…I read none. I’ve never had assignments due on the the first day of class. I’m definitely going to have to get used to checking the Blackboard website instead of getting a paper syllabus. The lecture style is also new to me. I go to a small liberal arts college where the average class is under 30 people. While my class in Amsterdam isn’t too large, it’s much less discussion-based. I’m not quite sure how the professor will even know who I am by the end of the semester. Finally, I have never taken a film class before. A lot of the terminology is new to me. Moreover, for assignments, we are expected to write about non-American movies that haven’t been shown in class. As I mentioned before, I think I have seen maybe three foreign films in my entire life and none of them fit into the “Western” category. However, I realize that today was just the first class and that I shouldn’t freak out quite yet. Luckily, the rest of my classes don’t start until next week. I plan on using this week to catch up on my readings and start watching European films. Let me know if you have any recommendations!

Olivia in front of student dormName: Olivia
CIEE Amsterdam
Semester: Fall 2012
Homeschool: Amherst College

All pictures by Olivia. Read more of Olivia's blog at


From Breakfast to Prostitutes

As I sit here getting ready to go to my second lecture for "The Local and Global Complexity of Prostitution" (yes it's 8:30 in the morning), I can't help but get sucked into a quick blog post. Last week this was my favorite class! I mean....can you blame me?

Kelly blog 1
My professor lecturing on our first topic for discussion - "WHORE". I quickly snuck a picture on my iPhone!

Kelly blog2

My beautiful new school!!

My two (lovely and very eccentric) professors began the first class session by showing the Nikki Minaj music video "Stupid Hoe." We then proceeded to analyze the use and meaning behind the word "hoe" for... I dont know, a good 60 minutes? Later this semester we get to hear the perspectives on prostitution from 2 special guests. The first: a prostitute herself! And the second? A male client. I can already tell I'm going to love this class!

In case you haven't seen the wonderfully eloquent and sophisticated music video for "Stupid Hoe," I've  posted it below. Enjoy!


Kelly blog3Kelly 
CIEE Amsterdam
Semester: Fall 2012
Homeschool: USC Annenberg

All Pictures by Kelly, see more of Kelly's pictures and blog posts at


Elections in the Netherlands - a complicated matter

Yesterday the Dutch elections took place, and it is a very complicated matter. Some students and I happened to walk by a polling station yesterday. It is only when I tried to explain it to other people that I realised how difficult our election system is. In the Netherlands, you can vote for anyone in the 21 different political parties on the voting ballot. There are 150 seats in the lower-house of parliament, and the people with the most votes will get a seat in government. Only 11 parties ended up to get enough votes to have at least one seat. This is the result that my colleague Erik posted on the CIEE Fall 2012 Facebook Page:

Facebook image
This is the complete result of the Dutch elections:

The new-look lower house of parliament

VVD 41 (31)
PvdA 39 (30)
PVV 15 (24)
CDA 13 (21)
SP 15 (15)
D66 12 (10)
GroenLinks 3 (10)
ChristenUnie 5 (5)
SGP 3 (2)
PvdD 2 (2)
50+ 2 (0)

See the whole article about the election results at

Profile 2Name: Annabel Thomas

Projects and Activities Coordinator CIEE Amsterdam






A house is not a home... unless you go to IKEA

Olivia ikea1
Olivia ikea2


I’ve always had a roommate in college so I was excited to finally have a room to myself. I was pleasantly surprised by how large the room was (much larger than the single rooms at my U.S. college). I live in an 8-man suite with an eclectic group of people. There’s a few of us from the U.S., a few from China, and my RA is from the Netherlands. The building itself consists of 8 suites with people from all over the world. Each suite has showers, bathrooms, and a kitchen. While the accommodations aren’t the most modern, with a little bit of sprucing, it’s easy to make the place your own.

Now, I’ll admit that I’m used to having the works in my dorm room…television, hot water heater, coffee machine, printer, etc. Having brought no appliances with me to Amsterdam, I spent my first weekend scouring the city for the best places to get cheap stuff for my room.

1. IKEA-located in the outskirts, IKEA isn’t in the most desirable location. While you can take public transport there, it’ll be incredibly difficult to carry everything back if you shop like me. We found a taxi that was willing to drive us there and agree to pick us up 2 hours later. Despite the difficulty it took the get there, the trip was well worth it. I picked up a floor lamp, a 5-drawer plastic bureau, two plastic storage bins, a hanging rack, fabric to decorate my walls, an 18-piece dish set, a 24-piece silverware set, 2 mugs, 2 tuberwares, a flashlight, a bulletin board, a face mirror, a pillow, and small items like scissors and batteries for about 200 euros.

2. Blokkers-If you don’t need furniture and large items, then Blokkers will more than do the job. I believe there are several in the city but I’ve been going to the one by Dam Square. With three levels, Blokkers offers all sorts of home appliances at great prices. From water heaters to hair straighteners to power strips, this store has everything you need to update your room.

3. Albert Heijn-It seems as if Albert Heijn is THE supermarket of the Netherlands. Luckily, there’s one located right by my building. Like any American supermarket, you can pick up food as well as basic cleaning supplies from the store…and you will want to wipe down your room before you unpack everything.

Now, that I’m all settled in my room, it’s time to explore the city!


Olivia in front of student dormName: Olivia
CIEE Amsterdam
Semester: Fall 2012
Homeschool: Amherst College

All pictures by Olivia. Read more of Olivia's blog at



First impressions

After my first day of wandering around Amsterdam, the city has already grown on me. It was a perfect day for a stroll outside (about 75 degrees F with a slight breeze…much better than the triple digit weather in LA). Amsterdam consists of a series of concentric rings with streets that radiate out from the Dam, or the historic city center, making the city easy to navigate. Although it was only my first walk in the city, I have already come across a number of independent boutiques that I am excited to visit again. Of course, the most beautiful features of Amsterdam are the unique canals. It was a Sunday afternoon and the canals were filled with locals having picnics on their boats. I took a ride on a big tourist boat that passed some of the city’s most scenic areas, including a spot where you can see seven bridges in a row. I’ve definitely made it a goal of mine to befriend a local with a boat. A few other key observations I have made thus far:

1. Just because everything is paved in cobblestone or brick does not mean it’s a massive sidewalk. Cars and bikes actually drive on these roads so you can’t just walk in the middle of them without a care, although the bike riders here seem quite understanding of lost tourists like myself.

2. People in the Netherlands must be generally tall. At the hotel I am currently staying in, I am too short to look out of the peep hole. Also, I am barely tall enough to see my face in the mirror.

3. Everything moves slower in Amsterdam. Although I am an LA girl, I live at a NYC pace. However, life in Amsterdam is much more leisurely. There’s no such thing as a “quick bite” if you’re going to a sit-down restaurant. People even walk slower in Amsterdam.

While it is definitely going to take some time for me to get adjusted to life in Amsterdam, I can’t wait to get to know the city and the Dutch lifestyle better. Next up, I have a three day excursion to Berlin!

Olivia in Amsterdam

Olivia in front of student dormName:
CIEE Amsterdam
Semester: Fall 2012
Homeschool: Amherst College

All pictures by Olivia. Read more of Olivia's blog at