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4 posts from December 2012


Special Interest Group: Multicultural Amsterdam

After trips to a Moroccan-Dutch mosque, a tour of the historical jewish neighborhood, djembe (African drum) lessons in the Bijlmer, and an international film festival (among many others) we ended our semester's "Multicultural Amsterdam" activities with a day devoted to Dutch culture! What better way to explore Dutch culture than an afternoon at the skating rink? Unlike ice skating in the States, Dutchies particularly enjoy speed off we went skating among people of all ages from 80 to 5 years old! Macauley, Jocelyn, Caroline, and Mariah were absolute naturals on the ice. They also took very well to our snack of traditional pea soup, apple tart, and hot chocolate! But nothing could be better than spotting Sinterklaas heading out to the ice rink! After standing with the small children and waiting our turn we were lucky enough to have a quick chat and take a photo with Sint. The perfect end to a day filled with Dutch culture and a semester exploring all the different cultures and traditions that make up the city of Amsterdam.





Special Interest Groups are a part of CIEE Amsterdam's student experience. This past semester we had interest groups with the following themes: Queer Amsterdam, Multicultural Amsterdam (above), Education in Amsterdam, News & Media in Amsterdam and Culinary Amsterdam. Caroline, the interest group leader for Multicultural Amsterdam, is a CIEE Amsterdam Spring 2009 Alumni and after she returned she continued to be actively involved at the CIEE Amsterdam office. We loooove active alumni. Thanks Caroline!


CarolinePost by: Caroline
CIEE Amsterdam Special Interest Group Leader
Spring 2009 CIEE Alumni



Truly Dutch

I can't believe that I only have 3 weeks left in Amsterdam. Time has flown by faster than I ever could have imagined! I've grown to LOVE my little life here, and I'm actually a little nervous to go home to the US. I've become so comfortable here. Amsterdam is my home now. I feel truly Dutch!

Here are 10 reasons that explain how I'm on my way to becoming a real-life Amsterdamian:

1. I always order beer with dinner because it's cheaper than a glass of water.

2. My heaviest coat from home now feels like a light summer sweater compared to the fur-lined coat I wear here.

3. I crave cheese. Lot's of it.

4. I'm no longer surprised that when I order a coffee it will only provide me with three sips of liquid. No venti iced coffees over here, no sir.

5. I find myself huffing and puffing and rolling my eyes with the rest of the locals every time I get stuck behind tourists while riding my bike. They're just so slow! Ding ding ding. Get out of my way please.

6. It doesn't shock me at all when I see cats EVERYWHERE. In bars, in restaurants, in my backyard, in windows, eating from my dinner plate.... Cats rule this city.

7. A glass of wine...or two...with lunch seems completely normal.

8. My hair smells SO strongly of cigarette smoke every time I wake up after being in bar or club the night before.

9. All my colorful or bright items of clothing have been sitting untouched in my closet for the past 3 months. In Amsterdam it's black, black, maybe a little grey here and there, and more black.

10. I find myself cheering and fist pumping with the rest of the locals when a Dutch song is played in a bar or club. I still have no idea what the words in the songs mean, but I like them.

Cat in a bar!

The only size coffee available. I usually want


Exciting second week of the semester

This Blog post is an entry for the CIEE Amsterdam Farewell Competition that we host at every end of the semester. It was posted on September 5th of this semester by CIEE student Andrew Cohen:

I am finally starting to feel that Amsterdam is my home and I even know how to get around a bit.

The first highlight from last weekend was visiting the Van Gogh museum.  It was awesome to see all these famous paintings and we happenned to get lucky and go a few days before they closed one floor of the exhibit for renovation.  We also got in for free with our Museum Card, which lets us into almost every museum in Amsterdam (and we can even go multiple times!)  I also brought earbuds and listened to Phish and Tallest Man on Earth while looking at the paintings.  Listening to music in a museum is pretty much the greatest idea ever and I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it before. 


This past weekend, some of my friends traveled Brussels, Belgium, but I wanted to explore the Netherlands more before I ventured out.  One nice thing about bike riding here is that it is a fun and FREE mode of transport.  So a group of us decided to bike ride to the beach, Zandvoort, which was about 45 miles round trip, plus or minus our detours and getting lost.  The Netherlands is a very flat country, so it was a manageable ride that took us 2.5 – 3 hours each way.


So it was a long journey, but it was awesome to see the countryside along the way.  There were some houses that people lived on that were literally off bike path.  As in, there is no road to their house.  One cool discovery along the way was this old Jewish cemetery next to the bike path. 


The beach was nice.  The sand was softer than home, but the water was really too cold to get in.  It was probably in the sixties at the beach.  After lunch at a beach restaurant, and ice cream from a tractor-pulled snack wagon, we headed back to Amsterdam.



On the way back, we happened upon this enclosure/park-like thing that had a ton of deer just chilling and flapping their tails (I guess that is something deers too, because they were all wagging or flapping something).  We weren’t sure quite what to make of it, but they were funny to watch.

That’s it for now, I’ll post some more highlights in the next few days!  Tot Ziens!


Midnight in Paris

I know its been a while since my trip to Paris actually took place, but the trip was just too magical and the memories too wonderful for me to pass up sharing my experiences with you! Paris is a city I've wanted to visit since I was a little girl. Seeing the Eiffel Tower has always been dream destination. Something about the graceful romance and the beauty of the lights at night....what little girl doesn'tdream of visiting Paris? Finally having the opportunity to travel to a city of my dreams - the City of Light itself - was UNREAL!
I flew to Paris with Haley and Mariana, Haley's roommate and best friend from home. She visited Amsterdam for a week and then we all went to Paris together. Mariana is such a sweet angel! And of course Haley's always wonderful. Together, the two of them were simply the best travel companions!

The best thing about Paris is that there is SO much to do and see! Our days were filled to the brim with adventure and so many incredible photo opportunities. I don't think I've EVER taken more photos in one weekend than I did in Paris. Our first day in the city was a total whirlwind... First stop? Sacre Coeur!

The famous carousel at the bottom!
Looking at all the stairs I have to climb... Can you find me?
We made it!
Artistic Attempts.
The highest point in Paris! What an incredible view.
Next we were on to Moulin Rouge and our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower! Mariana and I both teared up a bit when we first saw it... Yep. Totally embarrassing. We were...umm...tired? By the time we returned to Amsterdam, we actually visited the Eiffel Tower three times!! Once during the day, once at night, and once in the morning to beat the hugeee line to climb to the top!

Place du Tertre - The famous artists' square near Sacre Coeur! We made a quick pit stop here for a much needed
lunch break complete with French bread and espresso of course!
Moulin Rougeee!
Fun in the rain!
First glimpse of the tower!
Fighting on all around the world.
(Notice the child in the bottom right corner...even he wishes he was a Trojan!!)
So happy!
Incredible experience <3
For dinner I tried escargot. And you know what? I LIKED IT. It tasted like butter and garlic. Sure it was a little chewy... but who can say no to butter and garlic? It also didn't hurt that we had a delicious pitcher of Bordeoux to wash it down with...

My first taste of true French escargot.
My favorite day in Paris was our trip to Versailles! I loved it. It was a beautiful day spent with great friends in one of the coolest places I've ever been. The gardens were ridiculous. I could have spent hourssss in the gardens alone. It was also interesting to explore the grand estate and learn about the different rooms of the mansion. Seeing Marie Antoinette's bedroom and the Hall of Mirrors was such a treat! I would return to Versailles in a heartbeat. Take me back!!!

P.S. Sorry for the overload of photos. I just couldn't help myself... (And these are only a few compared to the 300 I took just in Versailles!!)

Entering Versailles!
Hello palace.
Every room had the most incredible murals on the walls and ceiling!
The Hall of Mirrors
Only the start of the gardens!
"Don't look at me."
Completely inconspicuous.
Casual sacrifice.
Jumping for joy! Look behind me.... So so so beautiful!
Haley's attempt... Perfection.
Happy girl.
After dinner it was time to visit the Eiffel Tower again. This time at night. The Eiffel Tower when it's all lit up at night is something that everyone deserves to see. So classic, and absolutely magical.

Just a giant nightlight, right?
We took quite a few selfies.... Doesn't this look like a green screen?? Too funny.
We couldn't get enough!
The only things we're missing are a loaf of French bread and a bottle of wine.
Light show!
All three evenings we ventured out into the city to experience the night life in Paris. I'll let the photos do the explaining...

Two for one in our hostel!
Reppin' the Deeg with a few sailors on the street. :)
Checkin out the Paris club scene.
Why yes, that is a French crepe with Nutella.
Waiting for the Subway at 6 AM. The first train of the morning!
Our last day in Paris was full of last minute sight-seeing! Haley had a paper to write, so Mariana and I got up as early as we could drag our little (or big in my case) butts out of bed to make it the Eiffel Tower to beat the line. We grabbed a quick piece of French bread on our way out the door (free breakfast at our hostel) and raced to the tower! We only had to wait in line for about 10 minutes and then we were on our way to the top!! Unfortunately it was a bit foggy, as you'll see in the photos, but still such a great experience. From the Eiffel Tower we were off to see Notre Dame and then the Louvre! Busy busy day! But so worth it. :)
Up we go. It's so foggy you can't see the top!
View from the halfway point!
Hello Paris!
Now this is the view from the top... All we could see was an infinity of white from every side.
Front of Notre Dame. 
Notre Dame.
The line to get inside the building where the line to the Louvre starts.... Craziness.
We made it in!!! Andddd then we ran out of time.
Well...I guess I'll see ya next time Mona Lisa?
Goodbye Paris! Until next time. I know I'll be back eventually. :)

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

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

xo Kel