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!
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.
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 Policy, Dutch 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 Culture, Dutch Language, Dutch 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,