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28 posts categorized "Resident Director"


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



CIEE Excursion: the mystical isle Schiermonnikoog

Brace yourselves… Summer is coming! With the sun coming out, the students also very much realize that we are indeed already halfway through the semester. Amsterdam is starting to warm up with some first festivals, outdoor film screenings and markets-without-rain.

Since the very history of the CIEE Amsterdam site, we have been going to one of the Wadden Sea Island for our Spring Overnight. After a bus ride, some Groninger students hopped on the ferry together with our cohort, and we took off to the mystical island of Schiermonnikoog….


*The following part is, shamelessly, entirely based on the Groningen-blog*

Schiermonnikoog is a small island with around 950 inhabitants. The islanders mainly live off of the tourists that flock to the island in great numbers, especially during summer. The island has a lot to offer in terms of nature and wildlife, and many people come to enjoy the peace and quiet that they can find here. One of its popular attractions is mudflat walking. As the CIEE group was divided into two smaller groups, there was one group of lucky students who had to be ready by 6.45, in order to examine what the mudflats hold before high tide comes in. And as it turns out, the mudflats hold a lot of living creatures that manage to hide themselves well!


And can you believe that no one fell? Well, maybe just one person did… Our well-respected Resident Coordinator in Groningen :)


Despite the early rise, the walk was well worth it, as the mudflats look beautiful in the early sun!


The rest of the day brought a bike tour exploring Schiermonnikoog’s lovely nature, an outdoor barbecue, closing with an awesome bonfire on the beach with Dutch-style s’mores (chocolate spread is much more practical than actual chocolate!).


Sunday morning saw the two groups going in separate ways, with one visiting Schiermonnikoog’s Seashell Museum (where all seashells are collected by the owner, Thijs (aka our mudflat-walking guide and bike tour-guide) and his family), whilst the other went off to the beach in order to fly some massive kites. As all good things must come to an end, so did this weekend. Nonetheless, this overnight trip was a great way to get in touch with nature a bit more and get away from the hectic city.


With many thanks to all the students who together with the Amsterdam and Groningen staff made this trip amazing!


CIEE Daytrip: Discover Delft

On Saturday March 5th we delved into the wonders of the beautiful Dutch town Delft. During the week, the city is the home of 20.000 students that are studying at the technical university. In the weekend this 13th century town is a bit quieter and, luckily for us, a bit sunnier!

The city is full of Dutch history (painter Vermeer lived here his whole life) – the city has a strong connection to the Dutch Royal Family. 20160305_123921The Nieuwe Kerk in Delft is a beautiful, historically rich church, and is renowned as the last resting-place for the members of the Royal House. 

Our young guide Max (a student in neighboring Leiden, which he said was less pretty, so we made the right choice) took us to visit this mausoleum, which only opens for new burials of Dutch kings and queens.







After lunch we went to the Porceleyne Fles, where a high-tech time machine (!!) took us through the history of Delfts Blauw (world famous blue-painted earthenware). After that we traveled to the time when they were making Delfts Blauw tableware, which is - shocker- still today! We saw the whole process from the hand painter until the baking process. We almost bought a new vase ourselves, if only there was student discount...

The bus took us back in the center for some Dutch delicious poffertjes. A big, warm stroopwafel was promised, but the poffertjes appeared to be a great alternative. After some free time we gathered up again for the trip back home, destination CIEE office.


Next on our calendar: the overnight excursion to Schiermonnikoog (beach, bikes, barbeque & bonfire) and an architecture daytrip to Rotterdam in April!


Judith de Lange Student Services Coordinator CIEE-Amsterdam


Weekend Homestay: visit a Dutch Family!

During our semester program, we offer the opportunity for students to do a Weekend Homestay - a weekend (1 night, 2 days) with a Dutch family somewhere in the Netherlands. We match the student to a Dutch family and reimburse the students' travel expenses. A perfect way for students to engage with Dutch people and get a sneak peek into their Dutch daily life!

Annette, a student from the CIEE Groningen program, wrote down her experiences. We thank her for sharing her story!

Weekend Homestay

On October 30, 2015, I left Groningen to meet the host family that CIEE had matched me with. Muriel Thuring and her daughter Silke (7) met me at the train station in Amersfoort and immediately made me feel welcome. It was the day before Halloween when I arrived, and I was to be Mary Poppins. As such, I had with me my costume, including Mary’s iconic hat, which I plonked atop Silke’s head when we got into the car. She giggled and fluffed the fake flowers lining the hat’s rim. I was feeling nanny-like already.

That day we rushed about doing errands. We first picked up Wilco (6) from school. Then we took Silke to dance and Wilco to field hockey. Then back to the family house for dinner. I met Raymond Thuring then, who had been studying in Utrecht earlier in the day. That night, I sat down with Muriel and Raymond and we talked about their “typical” Dutch lives. I went to bed feeling quite at home with this tight-knit but generous family.

After breakfast the next day, I sat down with Wilco at the kitchen table. He was constructing a helicopter using Lego pieces, but was struggling to take apart the bits that were still together from his last project. I helped him separate the tiny pieces, and I said something like “here you go!” when handing them over. I knew he didn’t know what I was saying, but he didn’t seem to be appalled at my lack of control over his language. Neither Silke nor Wilco knew much English, but I knew very little Dutch, so we were on even ground.

Weekend Homestay Annette

Silke came over with a piece of paper and a pen. There was much pointing and miming at first, but eventually I pulled out Google Translate and we started having a pseudo-conversation. We played a game of pointing to things in the house and having her write down what they were called in both languages. It was through this and my interactions with Wilco that made me realize that language is truly just a tool. I was having a meaningful, if somewhat stunted, conversation with these two children without having to speak a word.

Later that day we went to a nearby park. The day was clear and everyone took turns flying kites in the fitful breezes that wafted over the landscape. “With your feet on the ground you’re a bird in flight with your fist holding tight to the string of your kite.” I couldn’t have said it better, Mr. Banks, thought my still developing Mary Poppins alter-ego. Maybe I wasn’t a magical nanny who flew into this family’s home, but here were two young children here who showed me that I could relate to them even without a common language. When I left the Thuring’s later that day, I was indeed thankful for the homestay experience, for it taught me that friendships can blossom in unexpected ways.

Weekend Homestay Annette 2


Daytrip Gouda: Confirming the Dutch stereotype

If I say the Netherlands, what comes to mind? Cheese? Stroopwafels? Or maybe canals? Sideways tipping buildings? Tiny alleyways?

On our daytrip, we strongly strengthened the stereotypical image of Dutch cities. Gouda was the destination of our trip, just an hour away from Amsterdam. It has all the characteristics mentioned above: people wearing clogs were the only part that was missing from the image: Gouda even has a proper windmill!

Although Gouda is indubitably known for its cheese, we focused on another special delicacy from the Netherlands: the stroopwafel. We visited a renowned stroopwafel factory located right in the heart of Gouda’s old center. The Punselie factory, which produces allergen-free cookies that are served on all KLM-flights, has been a family owned business for years (started in 1872, with Ronald Punselie now leading the company). We got a tour and saw how the stroopwafels are transported on a curved conveyor-belt, and are then turned over (which, apparently, is a big engineering achievement).

During the tour, we ate ourselves almost nauseous with all the Punselie-leftovers. And then we ate even more, during the lunch break at an old clay barn turned into a pretty lunch spot, next to one of the small canals. 


Then it was time to move again. The theme of our city tour? ‘Sloppen en Stegen’ (translated: dead-end streets & small alleyways). Not for people with claustrophobia, our brave students took up the challenge of squeezing themselves through tiny streets. The tour talked about old craftsmen that got streets named after them (pin makers-alley and oil butcher-pathway), and we learned that Gouda has the oldest Dutch town hall!

Photo Sep 26, 3 21 31 PM

In the afternoon, there was time left to roam around. The usually peaceful old square was not so nice and quiet anymore: a big fair was taking place in front of the city hall – as mentioned, the oldest one of the Netherlands. Time was mainly spent at the fairground rides (the elephant ride was popular), and by eating large amounts of cotton candy. And of course: cheese, cheese and cheese! After this cultural dive into the Netherlands it was time to return to Amsterdam.

On to our next trip: our overnight excursion to Limburg!



Judith de Lange Program Assistent CIEE-Amsterdam


Beach time for lucky ducks!

One of the first activities we at CIEE Amsterdam organize is the Orientation Daytrip. This is for all the students to enjoy, and to see a bit more of the Netherlands!
The days before the orientation started, the whole CIEE-Amsterdam office was very nervous. We were not worried about our 111 students who just arrived in a new city (although, seeing you guys biking in Amsterdam for the first time can be a nerve-racking sight). No, there was but one question buzzing around the office in the days before the Orientation Day Trip: Will it rain?

There was supposed to be a thunderstorm coming up. ‘Code Yellow’ was given out by the KNMI, the Dutch Meteorological Institute. We were picturing a group of hundred students trembling in the rain, all dressed up in flattering poncho’s… But we were all lucky ducks (a beautiful saying I learned from Miss Caroline)! Not a single drop of rain fell, and all the beach games could be enjoyed outside.

What did we do? We made creative sand sculptures! One of the finest works I must say, especially Tank Tortoweitz and the unnamed Dog. And who made that giant cheese?!

Introducing Tank Tortoweitz

Introducing Tank Tortoweitz

Others were keener on getting sand everywhere under their clothes, and chose to be dragged over the beach by a so-called power kite.

It takes a village to fly a kite

It takes a village to fly a kite

One of the aims of the daytrip is to help students make new friends and get to know their fellow students. And what better way to do that than to hunt each other down the dunes with laser guns?

Taking aim

Warfare in the dunes

While one group was playing beach games outside, the other group went inside for the Bystander Intervention. This presentation was about helping others to prevent risky situations from getting worse and to look out for your fellow students.

IMG_3873 (3)

To intervene or not to intervene?

After lunch the groups switched places and the second group was able to get their hands sandy and to get that beach-look hairdo.

Upon returning in Amsterdam, it appeared that the bad weather forecast traveled with us. It was ‘Code Yellow’ all over the place. But hey, biking home in the rain after a good and long day is what makes you very integrated in the Netherlands :) On to our next trip!



Judith de Lange Program Assistent CIEE-Amsterdam


One-time-volunteering in Amsterdam

When in Amsterdam, do as the Amsterdammers do! CIEE Amsterdam offers one-time-volunteering opportunities to students who stay with us, both the business & culture students and the social sciences students get a chance to give back to the Amsterdam community by investing just a little bit of their time. 

We joined 'National volunteering Day' last friday, called 'NL Doet' in the Netherlands. Six students joined me in a kids playground, where we cleaned up leaves, returned woodchips to their designated areas, worked in the vegetable garden and sanded & painted wood benches.


It's great to join something like 'National Volunteering Day' beacuse everyone in the Netherlands knows what you are talking about! Even the royal family participates in NL Doet! Unfortunately they were not at our location, but worked at a petting zoo in Rijswijk. On the other hand, it was raining when they volunteered, while we were lucky enough to start after the sun came out. Oh unpredictable Dutch weather!




Orientation daytrip

At CIEE we usually end orientation with a daytrip! This year we went to Volendam and Marken, two quaint little towns not too far away from Amsterdam.


the tourguide guides students through rainy weather in Marken.

In Volendam we took a picture with all students in traditional Dutch costume:


Many famous Dutch people also take these kinds of photo's! My grandparents have also taken a picture dressed like this in Volendam, and it used to be a real outing for Dutch people.

There are many more fun trips and events coming up this semester!


Girl Rising at CIEE Amsterdam

CIEE Amsterdam joined the global campaign for the 'Girl Rising' movement last week when we showed the movie in CREA, the local movie theater for the University of Amsterdam. It was very cool that our study center could participate in an event that had already taken place all over the world. On October 11 in celebration of International Day of the Girl, the movie was already shown at 2093 different locations all over the world. Dutch pragmatism required us to show it a couple of days later, but nonetheless, it was an inspiring movie! It tells the stories of nine girls who overcame tremendous hardships to pursue their dreams of education and a better life.

Girl rising

Before we started the movie, we invited one of the best companies in the CIEE Amsterdam Network in the area of girls rights: Women Win. Elena of Women Win gave  presentation about theu work, including this inspiring video:


The room in CREA was well-filled, if only all the people in the movie theater talk to two other people, we are working on spreading the message!

Girl rising


Small Group Dinners at Staff Homes: A 'gezellig' evening!

As a former CIEE student, certain activities or events are especially enjoyable and memorable for me now as a staff member. One such activity is the small group dinners that CIEE staff members host at their homes for students during the semester. I remember so distinctly going to our former Resident Director’s house for dinner and how much fun it was to get to see where she lived and to be in a “real” Dutch home after spending weeks in a dorm. Last week was the first time I was able to host my very own small group dinner since beginning my job at CIEE seven months ago.  As hosts of these lovely dinners, we often try to make a very traditional Dutch meal for students so as to further facilitate their integration into Dutch culture. Many people ask, “what is traditional Dutch food like?” Unlike some other cultures, the answer to this question in the Dutch case is pretty simple: potatoes, meat, vegetables… all of which are well (some would say over) cooked with few exciting spices. Now, this is a bit unfair, as Dutch cuisine has certainly improved and been influenced by many other food traditions such as those of Indonesia, a former Dutch colony. The Dutch have moved away from boiled potatoes and meat to include many healthy and interesting new culinary traditions.

However, one of the most traditional and frequently made meals in the Netherlands are hutspot or stampot. Potatoes are boiled and mashed together traditionally with different types of vegetables like carrots, endive, onions and a bit of milk and butter. The dish is topped off with big chunks of smoked worst and gravy. Contrary to what you might be thinking, it’s delicious! Although I am half Dutch and spent many summers at my grandmother’s house, she is not a fan of traditional Dutch food and so I never ate hutspot very often.  And I had definitely never made it myself! So I nervously rushed off to the Albert Heijn, the biggest grocery store chain, to collect all my supplies. The Dutch have put a new spin on this traditional recipe, changing the ingredients mashed with potatoes. I decided to make two traditional recipes and one with a twist. Although it’s quite easy to make these meals as you eventually just mash everything together, juggling three different recipes was not without its challenges. I decided to make one hutspot with potatoes, carrots, and onions, another with endive and onion, and finally one with roasted pumpkin, apple, cumin, and goat cheese. Things were under control until my Dutch roommate came home and started asking questions and tasting things. Thank goodness she could sweep in and add a little more milk or salt where it was needed and make the gravy that I had absentmindedly forgotten. After setting out drinks and appetizers, I was sweating over my hutspot when the bell rang…. The first students!

Small group dinner foto

Finally all the students had arrived and with drinks in hand, they could chat to each other and get to know my cat while I ferried all the different dishes out into the living room. My roommate, Lotte, was able to demonstrate how you put the hutspot on your plate and make a hole in the middle to pour the gravy into and then place your worst on the side with mustard. Then you’re ready to eat! Soon there was silence as everyone started tucking into what turned out to be (thankfully) a very delicious meal, if I may say so myself. As I expected, the salad remained almost untouched and the three pots of hutspot quickly disappeared.  The students always ask me lots of questions when they get a chance to, about my own experience as a CIEE student and what I think about living in Amsterdam. We chatted about their experiences so far and their observations about the city and Dutch culture. Students compared their experiences in classes and their struggles on a bike. Then it was time for a traditional Dutch dessert of apple pie (store bought I admit!) and whipped cream.  The conversations continued and I sat back to enjoy listening to the laughter, debates, and stories that filled my living room. Before we knew it, it was already 10:30 and the students gathered their things to leave and very sweetly thanked me for their dinner. I found a small container for William to take what little was leftover home and eventually everyone was on their way, unlocking their bikes for the trip home. This dinner was a wonderful opportunity and just as gezellig (the Dutch word roughly translated to cozy) as I remembered it being when I was a student. I hope the students had just as an enjoyable evening as I did!

Photo small group dinner



Caroline Rotenberg

Student Services Coordinator