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Summertime with CIEE Amsterdam

It is Monday morning 6:00 am May 23rd when our very first summer student e-mailes us to ask: ‘I’m at Schiphol Airport, where is the meeting point again?’. Right there and then, we officially kicked off the CIEE Amsterdam Summer 2016-program and we welcomed many more students that day, for their summer program here in the beautiful Amsterdam!

Following the hustle and bustle of orientation, with the highlight being the daytrip to the medieval city of Amersfoort, the students started their courses; Contemporary Dutch Social Policy and Dutch Business and Culture. And, after that 1st week of getting to know each other, getting to know Amsterdam and making their first attempts at biking, the students really started to settle in.

Last week, which was the 2nd week of the program, we went on an overnight excursion to Leiden and Haarlem. The city of Leiden is home to over 23.000 students and has the university as its biggest employer. Filled with numerous canals and beautiful 17th-century buildings, Leiden is also called a mini-version of Amsterdam. Plus, the city is famous for being Rembrandt’s birthplace, where the guide is pointing the students to on the picture below:


After the city walk, the lunch and the boat tour, we embarked on our next adventure: the city of Haarlem! The lovely Stayokay hostel there was our home for the night and everyone got the time to explore this town by themselves. Haarlem is a classic Dutch city, just a bit to the north of Amsterdam. It has a lot to offer in a compact area: cobbled streets, historic buildings, grand churches, museums, cozy bars, cafes, and of course canals. For centuries Haarlem has been a market town, buzzing with shoppers heading home with fresh bouquets, nowadays by bike.
The next morning, we visited a local open air markets and the students got to try Dutch finest cuisine: raw herring with pickles, Gouda cheese, Leiden sausages, licorice, and of course… stroopwafels!


Last stop was the beach, and there was no way the weather could stop us! A short walk with some occasional toe dipping in the cold water brought us to the dunes, where we had some hot chocolate.
The bus driver safely brought us back into busy Amsterdam.

The travelling ain’t over till it’s over: the next excursion on the program will bring our summer students just a hop and a skip further away: their ICE-weekend will be in Dublin!


Written by:










Judith de Lange Student Services Coordinator CIEE-Amsterdam



Fall 2015, Issue I

Newsletter Banner Amsterdam

A Historic Semester Begins -- with Pomp and Pancakes!

On August 17th, 111 students arrived in Amsterdam for a study abroad semester that will go down in the annals of CIEE Amsterdam's history as our biggest semester ever. While enrollment in CIEE Amsterdam's two semester programs (to wit: Social Sciences and Business and Culture) has been growing steadily for the past four semesters, this is the first semester that we have crossed the magic number of 100 students -- which all of us at the CIEE Amsterdam Study Center could not be more excited about! Now that we are one month into the program, we thought we would take a quick look back at the beginning of this (already historic) semester.

Arrival Day: Rain, More Rain, and Pancakes

When students arrived at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport on August 17th, they were greeted with overcast skies, the city of Amsterdam in a state of day-long dusk, and rain. Not just your regular rain, but torrential downpour-type rain. One might say that this was an inauspicious beginning to students' semester in Amsterdam, but by throwing them in the proverbial deep end of Dutch weather patterns, we were able to see what our students were made of on day one.

I can report back (truthfully!) that, across the board, our students did not allow the rain to get to them. Not on this day of firsts, when they picked up their University of Amsterdam student ID, the keys to their dorm room (slash shelter from the rain), registered as officials inhabitants of the city of Amsterdam, and received their course schedule.

Two of our students, Kenneth and Mauli, were interviewed that same day by the University of Amsterdam, and were asked about the most random item they had packed in their suitcase. No doubt because of their infectious smiles, the UvA decided to post their answers (and an accompanying picture of said smiling CIEE'ers) on their official Facebook page. Although they did not include a hashtag, I think a #CIEErepresent is in order!

Snap 2015-09-16 at 10.56.21

After a day that revolved mostly around waiting in line, a General Welcome presentation, introducing themselves to 100+ other students, and, oh, rain showers straight out of the Old Testament, we decided to treat our students to a typical Dutch meal: pancakes!

"Pancakes," you scoff, "Americans grow up eating those!" Yes, but not these types of pancakes -- and not on a boat! Dutch pancakes are considerably flatter and bigger than their American counterparts, and also much more eccentrically decorated. While students could choose between apple, bacon and plain pancakes as their base, they had 20+ different toppings to choose from, ranging from ham, chicken, and salami to five different types of sugar, pineapple wedges, marshmallows, and chocolate sprinkles. Not only that, but these doughy works of art were served on a boat (called, aptly, the Pancake Boat) that took our students on a tour of the river IJ, which snakes around the city of Amsterdam.

I think I can speak for our students when I say that our welcome dinner hit the spot, and made for a great/delectable finish to students' first day in their home away from home.

Orientation: PowerPoints upon PowerPoints, and Fun on the Beach

In order to prepare our students fully for their semester in Amsterdam, we organized three days of orientation sessions, in which we covered such important aspects of their study abroad experience as academics, health and safety, practical matters, and a preview of the activities and interest groups our students can join during their four months in Amsterdam. While this information is extremely important -- and while we tried our best to make these presentations as lively and interactive as possible -- we fully realize that we needed to hit the pause button on this parade of PowerPoint presentations.

Cue a trip to the beach!

As Judith de Lange -- our newest colleague, who joined us this summer to help us out with the summer and semester programs -- writes in her blog post dedicated to this Orientation Day Trip, our students built innovative sand castles, hunted each other down in the dunes (all, uhm, in good fun, of course!) and learned more about when and how to intervene in sensitive situations, and which tactics they might use to defuse potentially dangerous situations.

You can read Judith's full blog post (and take a look at more pictures) here:

Warfare with a smile

Final Introductions: CIEE Students Meet... the Royal Family?!

September marks not just the beginning of the new academic year, it is also the month in which the King addresses a joint session of the States General of the Netherlands (consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate) and lays out his preferred legislative agenda in a speech from the throne. This day is known in Dutch as Prinsjesdag (or "Prince's Day"), and it takes place in the city of The Hague, which as the seat of government, is the Netherlands' de facto second capital city.

Five of our most politicially active/royal-loving/hardiest students braved the rain for a chance to see the (solid gold) royal carriage transport the King and Queen to the Binnenhof (or "Inner Court"), which is the collection of 13th-century buildings that houses both "chambers" of the Dutch Parliament. Afterwards, they -- along with throngs of Dutch patriots -- stormed the gates in order to catch a glimpse of the King and Queen from atop the balcony. As you can see in the pictures below, our students managed to secure front-row seats, uhm, front-line standing spots to this rare display of Dutch pomp and circumstance.

Since there is no way of topping an almost-audience with the Dutch King and Queen, this does it for the first newsletter of the Fall semester. I look forward to seeing you here again in late October, when we will talk about midterm evaluations, small group dinners at CIEE staff members' homes, and our historical day trip to the city of Gouda.

Until then, all best wishes from Amsterdam, and CIEE Amsterdam staff,

Jonathan Key
Program Coordinator Social Sciences

Me (small)


Fall 2014, Issue II

Newsletter Banner Amsterdam


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.


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

Program Coordinator Social Sciences

Program Coordinator Business and Culture



Spring 2014, Issue III

Newsletter Banner Amsterdam


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.


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


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


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


Spring 2014, Issue II

Newsletter Banner Amsterdam


It is hard to believe that we have already reached the halfway point of the spring semester -- and every semester, time seems to pick up speed and it gets a little harder. In this newsletter, I will briefly bring you up to speed on three events that each serve as milestones of sorts: our midterm evaluations with students, a check-in on CIEE's Book Club (a new interest group that launched this semester) and our annual overnight trip to Schiermonnikoog, an island off the Dutch coast where students and staff gather each year for a weekend of exploration, game-playing, and one unforgettable bonfire.


At CIEE, we attach a great deal of importance to student feedback; in fact, it is the engine that drives change at the Amsterdam Study Center. Fortunately, the University of Amsterdam feels the same way, which allows us to work together each semester to evaluate both students' academic and personal experiences studying abroad in Amsterdam. With 65 students enrolled across both programs this semester and five members of staff, each staff member sat down with 13 students and took their pulse on a number of issues, ranging from their experiences in the Dutch classroom to their housing and the activities and services that we at the Amsterdam Study Center provide.

Also, and perhaps most importantly, we asked them how much headway they were making on achieving the goals that they had set for themselves prior to studying abroad. Often, students' pre-set goals will change organically as the reality of living in the Netherlands sinks in and replaces (or qualifies) a conception of life abroad that is sometimes founded on stereotypes or preconceived notions. Sometimes, in their enthusiasm, students set goals that are a little too lofty ("mastering" the Dutch language, for example, is likely too ambitious a goal) or set so many goals that they overwhelm, instead of motivate. This is a tricky balance to strike, and as staff, we try to help the students with setting goals that are grounded in the realities and ebbs and flows that characterize a semester in Amsterdam. 


In my first newsletter of the semester, I mentioned that we would be adding a new Interest Group to our already wide selection of groups that organize activities based around a particular theme. This spring, long-standing Interest Groups such as Culinary Amsterdam and Sports and Nature in Amsterdam were joined by a spirited upstart: CIEE Book Club. Last semester, I floated the idea of reading and discussing a book with a small group of students to the Fall students, and they responded enthusiastically. While most students do quite a bit of reading for class, picking up a novel or hunting down a fascinating non-fiction read tend to lose out to hunting down the cheapest plane ticket to Prague, instead. My goal for Book Club was a simple one: read two novels and two non-fiction selections each semester that deal with a past or present issue in the Netherlands and/or the United States and have students discuss them by bringing in both their experiences as Americans and the insights they have gained by living in the Netherlands -- all of which takes place over CIEE-sponsored high-end coffee, not unincidentally.

Although I may be a little biased, I am happy to report that the first two meetings of CIEE Book Club could not have been more successful: in discussing Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring and George Packer's The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, students combined well-reasoned opinions and passionate responses in their analysis of, respectively, the origins story of Johannes Vermeer's eponymous painting and Packer's withering analysis of the various ways in which the socio-economic fabric of the US has been unraveling in the past three decades. I, for one, could not be a prouder Interest Group Leader, which explains the size of the smile on my face in the picture below.

Book Club


Arguably the one trip students and staff look forward to the most, CIEE's annual overnight trip to the island of Schiermonnikoog once again lived up to the reputation that precedes it. Last Friday, students and staff packed into a bus to Lauwersoog, which is located on the border of the northern provinces of Friesland and Groningen, where they changed modes of transportation and boarded a ferry to the Frisian island of Schiermonnikoog. At Schiermonnikoog, which is the home of the Netherlands' first national park (a park which envelops most of the island!), students went on a bike trip of the island, conquered the mud flats, flew kites (some of which lifted them straight off the ground!), tested their knowledge of the Netherlands, CIEE staff, and American television in a pub quiz, and -- last, but certainly not least -- roasted marshmallows and made s'mores on the beach:


Students contributed actively to the success of the trip by performing chores in and around the retrofitted farm house that served as our base of operations: some students were on clean-up duty, while others volunteered to be in charge of the barbecuing. (Did I mention there was barbecuing?) Judging by how quiet it was on the bus ride back to Amsterdam on Sunday, I think our students enjoyed their weekend of Dutch island life!

That is all from Amsterdam for now; the next newsletter will also the final one, but none of us at the CIEE Amsterdam Study Center want to think about that just yet.

Jonathan Key
Program Coordinator Social Sciences



Fall 2013, Issue II

Newsletter Banner Amsterdam

Swept up in Amsterdam!

Although, by now, our students are used to the unpredictability of Dutch weather, no one could have expected that the halfway point of the fall semester would be marked by a very un-Dutch (and equally unwelcome) weather event: the passage of St Jude, a European windstorm that wreaked havoc on the city, the country, and most of Western and Northern Europe.

On Monday, October 28th, the city of Amsterdam hunkered down to brave gusts of wind that exceeded 70 mph, windspeeds that are so unusual for the Netherlands that residents were asked to stay inside and classes at the university were canceled. While, luckily, none of our students were injured or in any way harmed by the storm, the same cannot be said for countless trees, cars and homes, including one hapless houseboat docked only two minutes from the CIEE office.

St. Jude vs. Amsterdam

By Monday afternoon the storm had died down, everyone ventured back outside, the cleanup began, and life in Amsterdam quickly returned to normal. While certainly one of the more dramatic moments of students' stay in Amsterdam, St Jude ultimately only punctuated the midway point of a semester that has been filled to the brim with classes, activities and personal exploration.


With the first block of classes making way for the second, we checked in with all students to see how they were doing and to get their feedback on academics, housing, activities and their overall study abroad experience so far. In individual meetings with members of staff students indicated, across the board, that they were having the time of their lives in Amsterdam -- and that the activities organized by CIEE had contributed meaningfully to their time in the Netherlands by opening their eyes to aspects of Dutch society that they may not have been aware of otherwise.


On October 24th, the CIEE Amsterdam Study Center was proud to screen Girl Rising, a ground-breaking documentary about the absolute importance and life-changing (and society-altering) value of educating girls and women. This documentary, which features the stories of nine girls from different parts of the world who have each faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their personal quest for knowledge and self-betterment, was was produced in partnership with CIEE and was shown in CIEE Study Centers all over the world to hammer home the message that educating girls should be nothing short of a top priority, and hopefully, in the near future, self-evident.

Girl Rising


When students aren't in the classroom, exploring Amsterdam on their own, or boarding buses, trains and planes to criss-cross the European continent, we encourage them to attend any (or all!) of the activities that we organize on an almost weekly basis. In the past couple of weeks, the Culinary Interest Group went on a food tour of Amsterdam that had students explore Amsterdam's "foodiest" neighborhoods by sampling some of the local delicacies, from fish cookies in Chinatown to Indonesian bapao's -- steamed buns with a meat filling -- to the Dutch staples of raw herring and bitterballen (fried balls with a filling of mystery meat that should be judged solely based on their taste and not on what they look like).

The Sports Interest Group, whose activity took place on the same day as the food tour, took an opposite tack by having students participate in a Dutch-style bootcamp in one of Amsterdam's most famous parks. The Queer Interest Group, lastly, went on a tour through Artis, the Amsterdam zoo, to learn more about homosexuality in the animal kingdom. We learned that homosexual behavior has been observed in many different animal species and has evolved as a unique strategy that serves a number of distinct purposes, from consituting a form of mating practice to a source of sexual pleasure.

Queer Artis (2)

I hope this newsletter has given you a glimpse of everything that's been happening here in Amsterdam; the third and final newsletter will look back on the semester as a whole, although I think I speak for the students as well when I say that no one wants to think about that yet!

Greetings from Amsterdam,

Jonathan Key
Program Coordinator Social Sciences

Jonathan (small)


Fall 2013, Issue I

Newsletter Banner Amsterdam
Day Trip Hoorn, Enkhuizen and Medemblik 

A new chapter begins in Amsterdam!

Arrival, orientation, and the city of Amsterdam

When students arrived at Schiphol Airport on August 19th, they were welcomed not only by a CIEE staff member, but by something which the Netherlands only extends to its favorite guests: sunshine. It was a glorious late-summer morning when students boarded the bus from the airport to the inner city, where they first registered with the housing company, became official residents of the municipality of Amsterdam and, if they wanted to, opened a Dutch bank account. After swinging by their respective dorms for a lighting-fast check-in and bag-drop, students were picked up by CIEE staff and escorted to the General Introduction, which was held in the beautiful Bushuis of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), a lasting reminder of the Netherlands' erstwhile prominence on the world scene.


During the General Introduction, the five resident staff members who together run the CIEE Amsterdam Study Center and its two programs (Renée, Annabel, Caroline, Cato and me) introduced themselves, their specific duties and responsibilities, as well as one weird/fun/slightly embarrassing fact. We then turned things over to the students, who followed suit and briefly introduced themselves, while also shared their varied reasons for choosing to study abroad in the Netherlands. During the remainder of the General Introduction, CIEE staff outlined many of the topics that would be revisited in much more detail later that week: from living in the Netherlands, to getting around in Amsterdam and studying at the UvA. More extensive introductions took place immediately following the General Introduction, when the students got to know each other a little better during a pancake dinner on an old-fashioned Dutch pancake boat, which ferried students and staff across the river IJ. 

While the International Student Network took over for the rest of week, CIEE introductions continued the next week, when students attended in-depth presentions on housing, academics, integration and CIEE activities. The picture used in the banner above was taken on our first CIEE daytrip, which had students explore the Zuiderzee Museum, an open-air museum that was founded in 1948 to commemorate the former villages that were fundamentally reshaped when the Zuiderzee was bisected and turned into the IJssel Lake and the Wadden Sea.

Zuiderzee Museum (2)

The two-week introduction period ended with a presentation organized by the UvA's Faculty of Social Sciences, which included a two-hour boat trip that criss-crossed the Amsterdam canal system, with a special focus on the history of the university, which is closely intertwined with that of the history of the city itself.

To be continued: classes, special interest group activities and excursions

Although the focus has now shifted to students' classes (the academic year officially began on September 2), a host of CIEE-organized excursions, special interest group activities and trips give students the chance to take a well-earned break from studying. That said, from sampling Dutch cuisine to witnessing Prinsjesdag (the beginning of the governmental and political year) and retracing the history of Amsterdam as a gay capital, CIEE activities are designed to be both informative and a good time. Now that our newsletters are fully integrated into the CIEE blog, you simply need to scroll down to read all about the abovementioned activities in much more detail. 

For now, I hope you have enjoyed reading this first newsletter of the Fall 2013 term; the second one will make its way onto the blog by late October, when it will take stock of the term at its halfway point.

Until then,

All best wishes,

Jonathan Key
Program Coordinator Social Sciences

Jonathan (small)