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04/29/2014

Schiermonnikoog

By: Emily Parker - Tulane University

A few weeks have passed since the CIEE overnight event of the semester, where nearly fifty of us boarded a bus to head three hours north to the petite island of Schiermonnikoog. Less than ten kilometres long, home to fewer than 1000 permanent residents and only a handful of cars, Schiermonnikoog was the perfect getaway from busy Amsterdam life.

The weekend began with many of us still slightly groggy on Saturday morning but excited for the trip, obvious by all the chatter on the bus. Tired from my Friday night and blessed by the ability to sleep almost anywhere (planes, trains, automobiles.. you name it; the first a skill quite envied), so I dozed for most of the ride. Awaking a few times to the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ at Holland’s beautiful countryside tulip fields, soon we were ready to pile off the bus and onto the ferry across the sea to Schiermonnikoog.

The ferry took about half an hour and soon we were all being fitted for our bikes for the weekend. In a nearly identical pack of bright yellow bikes, we began our ride to the farmhouse, many of us getting accustomed to back pedals as we rode alongside North Sea. With fresh air, green fields, and the ocean as far as we could see, contentment was felt through the whole group as we pedaled along the coast of Schiermonnikoog.

Schier

Settling into the farmhouse, games of kickball and frisbee began in restless anticipation for dinner. The soon site of hot food plates being delivered out of the only car I saw all weekend (what service!) was a delight, and soon we were all delving into some pasta in a very crowded but cozy room. Enjoying dinner, drinks, and good company for an hour, it was next time for the pub quiz! With Jonathan as our host, teams formed around dinner tables as questions from pop culture to Dutch history to CIEE staff abounded. A few beers and nine rounds later, only one team took the prize but all of us left with some learned Dutch facts and a bit of leverage on a few of our lovely staff ;)

The next morning began with an early wake up call, ready for a day full of bike tours, mudfalt walking, and exploring the island. Breakfast was as expected, and as I looked around at us all content with our meals of bread, cheese and salami I couldn’t help but think back to those few orientation mornings way back when (time really flies). The group split into two, with half of us having a morning bike tour and the other having some free time for the morning. For a few hours we biked the island of Schiermonnikoog following our guide, a native and long time resident to the Friesland province. First stop began in town for a short history lesson on Schiermonnikoog, as we learned about the German occupation of the island, the Dutch reclaiming it, and the difficulties of having a land mass so low in elevation surrounded by sea (the Dutch have long since had this figured out though, no sweat). With Schiermonnikoog being such a small island, we were able to see nearly every aspect of it from shore to shore. Riding through the fields, along the coast, amidst man-made forests, and ending with a pretty spectacular view of the North Sea, our guide filled us in the whole way through on the amazing range of wildlife that inhabits Schiermonnikoog.

Soon it was time for our mudflat activity, where half of the group got to walk out on the ocean floor with another hilarious guide in tow. The mudflats of Schiermonnikoog remain to be some of the most fertile land in the world, and are alive with a diversity of meals fit for the assortment of the birds of Schiermonnikoog. Surrounded by nothing but mud, sea, and wind, we trudged through the plains, often sinking in enough for screeches of fear. Being out on the mudflats made the diversity of the island all the more obvious.. we had just spent a day seeing everything from dune valleys, salt marshes, forests, to our present site. It’s no wonder the Dutch made the whole island a National Park and protected natural reserve.

Schier 2

That night we had enough BBQ food to feed an army, and with everyone relieved that the rain seemed to be holding off we all headed as a big pack for a bonfire on the beach. Equipped with drinks, snacks, and the makings for STROOPWAFFEL SMORES (what what), we all happily enjoyed a setting sun and hot fire for hours. Surrounded by good company, full bellies, and the whole beach to ourselves, life was grand! After burning our last wood pallet, many of us were enthused to bring the party to Tox Bar, one of the only two nightlife establishments on the island. Accompanied by our lovely CIEE staff, still smelling like bonfire, we piled onto the Tox dance floor, a much livelier place than expected for an island of 950 residents. Gettin’ jiggy with it for hours passed with great fun and enthusiasm, and the weekend began to near it’s end. The next day we would be back on a bus heading home, but all very full with the joys of our group getaway. Many thanks to the CIEE staff for organizing such a great trip!

04/16/2014

Spring 2014, ISSUE II

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Halfway the semester
Although it feels like we just had our orientation yesterday, we are halfway the semester and it shows; students are speaking Dutch to the cashiers in the supermarket, when they return from their weekend travels they can’t wait to go ‘home’ to Amsterdam and on the bike paths they now blend in perfectly with the speedy Dutch cyclists. In this newsletter you will read about our midterm meetings, the most popular courses, our latest Interest Group activities and the peak of the semester; our overnight excursion to the island Schiermonnikoog! Other than that, I will give you an idea of what our summer in Amsterdam will look like. 

Midterm meetings
With each student we had a brief one to one midterm meeting during which we evaluated academics, housing and their life in Amsterdam in general. It’s the perfect chance to smooth out any existing problems and see if a student needs help with anything. In general, students are very happy with both academics and the CIEE program. It’s always great to hear how the students are exploring the country on their own; one joins a Dutch sports club, the other goes for CREA ( a creative workshop center), some look for an internship on their own, while others like to travel as much as they can.

Most popular courses
This semester’s most frequently chosen CIEE course is CIEE Beginning Dutch; a course for students with little or no prior knowledge of the Dutch language, who are interested in learning the Dutch language and more about the Netherlands: the people, environment, and culture. Regarding the courses taken at the UvA’s Faculty of Economics and Business it’s a tie; the most popular ones were 2 Economics courses, International Money and Transition Economics, and two Business courses, Strategy & Organization and Marketing Management.

Interest groups and activities
Also the interest groups are halfway the semester, below you can read about our most recent activities:

  • With the sports group we went canoeing through the Amsterdamse Bos (a forest just outside of the city).
  •  The education team is still teaching English to the kids at two elementary schools in Amsterdam; last week they discussed celebrities and athletes, popular topics amongst the youngsters, since celebrities are probably the main reason why the Dutch kids know so much about the United States. The class was wrapped up with a game of “Who am I?”
  • Our very own culinary experts went from tasting foods to preparing a delicious meal themselves; with 12 students in a narrow Dutch student apartment they prepared a delicious table full of international tapas.
  • And two weekends ago, the artsy group went creative with crayons; they had a workshop painting women from the 18th century at the Rijksmuseum.

And to top it all off, this past weekend we went to the beautiful Island of Schiermonnikoog, the smallest island and national park in the Wadden See, in the North of the Netherlands. Our home for two days was a huge farm; including bunk beds, a meadow that was perfect for a game of kickball and students and staff all contributed to the dinners we had there together. Besides that, we went on an educational biking tour of the island, with a group of adventurers we went mudflat walking, we had a great campfire at the beach including s’mores and on Sunday morning we went kite flying.

Schiermud

Schierfly

Schiergroup

Summer
Now that the weather has already been amazingly warm and sunny for the last few months, we at the CIEE office can’t wait for what the summer will bring. Plus, this summer CIEE Amsterdam will host 6 different summer programs divided over three sessions. Please have a look at the CIEE website and blog to read more about this. We are looking forward to welcoming the summer students.

I hope you are all having a great Spring too; the next newsletter will be at the end of the semester.

Hartelijke groeten,

Cato van Hees
Business and Culture Program Coordinator

 

03/27/2014

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.

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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!

 

 

03/26/2014

A Historical Day in Gouda

On Saturday the 15th of March I got the pleasure to travel with a bunch of other CIEE students, Caroline, and Jonathan to the historical Dutch city of Gouda.  Only a hop skip and a jump away, Gouda maintains a lot of the charm and quaint aesthetic of the quieter parts of Amsterdam.  With winding canals, sideways tipping buildings, and tiny alleyways, Gouda is not a bad city to look at.

  Gouda

We started off by making our way to the Stroopwafel factory Punselie (the part of the trip I was anticipating the most). The factory was small, family owned, and had an interesting history with KLM airline.  It was interesting to learn more about the cookies that I eat so very regularly.  What surprised me the most was the sheer volume of cookies that the factory produced.  One other thing to note is how the factory reused cookie crumbs that didn't make their way into the final product.  Not wasting a single bite!

   Gouda Punselie factory photo

After we had lunch at the Museum Cafe before heading on our historical tour of Gouda.  The tour guide was dynamic and gave the historical city tour through a rock and roll lens, referencing the most famous bands of the 70s and 80s.  We navigated the tiny alleyways, learning more about the history of Gouda.  Fun fact of the day: Gouda has the oldest town hall in the Netherlands.  It's a huge structure resemblant of a church in the middle of the main square.

  Gouda town hall

We ended the tour at the base of the massive town hall and then had free time to roam the market and buy some of the infamous Gouda cheese (it did not disappoint).  Walking around the city was a fun time to just see what Gouda was like and how people went about their day to day lives.  The bikers seemed a little more patient than in Amsterdam!  All in all, it was a good trip and I'm glad I went.

Groetjes,  Zach Dravis (student, Spring 2014)

Gouda_haven

03/24/2014

Dinner at CIEE staff’s homes

During the first month of the Spring semester, it was time for our group dinners! Each staff member invited students to their home to cook for them. The idea for the dinner is that staff cooks for the students, who will be introduced to a Dutch home and Dutch foods! See the pictures below to get an idea of the evenings!Group dinnersRenée welcomed the students to her lovely apartment in De Pijp located near the bustling Albert Cuyp market. Proximity to this market indicates that delicious products were included in this expertly cooked meal (bottom-left)! Annabel lives in a very big, beautiful monumental house next to a park which is a bit outside of Amsterdam (top-right)! Cato lives in a traditional Dutch walk-up apartment (complete with steep stairs) with a view over the canal, with her 3 Dutch roomies (bottom-left)! A short ferry ride to Amsterdam Noord took the students to Jonathan’s apartment, where he prepared a traditional Belgian meat stew. And last but not least, Caroline lives in a somewhat old, but very charming, apartment with a garden just west of the Jordaan, complete with a Dutch roomie and her rather large cat, Lolly!

The most popular dish amongst CIEE staff was Hollandse Stamppot (a typical Dutch stew). Below I will explain how to make this delicious stew; it’s easy to make and delicious to eat as a main course.

INGREDIENTS: 

A bag of potatoes, salt, pepper, 500 gram of chopped kale, 1 sausage, 100 g lean bacon, a small bag of  grated cheese, 20 g butter, 1.5 dl warm milk, 1-2 spoons of olive oil, (stock cube, cashews).

PREPARATION METHOD:

Peel and cook the potatoes for about 10-15 minutes. Prick the potatoes to feel if they are soft. After that pour a small amount of milk in a big pan and add the potatoes (peeled and cooked) with a little salt and mash them, only when the potatoes are really cooked well you can mash them and once that is done you add the kale. The kale mixes easier when you throw it in the pan together with some warm milk.

This is also the time to stir in some butter, grated cheese, some salt and pepper and bacon for extra flavor to the stew. Some people also add a stock cube and cashews for additional flavor, but it’s also tasty without it.

You keep the pan on low heat and you continue mixing the kale with the mashed potatoes, this is the only thing that takes just a little while and a bit of strength in your arms. But just add some milk until it’s a good mash and the kale is soft and the cheese melted. Then, when it’s ready just put a sausage on top of the whole dish and it’s ready to serve! Enjoy!

Stamppot

02/18/2014

SPRING 2014, I

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The start of the semester

It’s only 3 weeks ago that our new group of students arrived in Amsterdam, but it seems like they have been here for already such a long time now. Maybe it’s because in those 3 weeks we have had so many weather changes that it felt like we just passed through a cold winter, a sunny spring, and a rainy fall. Or maybe it’s that the students are getting adjusted quickly and riding their bikes like they are from Amsterdam? Or is it because we have done so many activities together already?

We started with our CIEE orientation and this was, by the way, during our short, but cold winter time. We stayed in a hostel where we had our own meeting rooms to discuss safety & health, academics, activities, and all sorts of other practical items. We alternated that with meetings in the city center so that we could show the students where they’ll be studying this semester.  The CIEE orientation was followed by International Student Network orientation, during which all foreign students in Amsterdam gather and meet to explore Amsterdam under the supervision of local students.

Then, students had their first week of classes, which was also the time when our winter changed into a lovely sunny spring time. It was amazing; students were cruising around the canals to find their way amongst the UvA locations spread over the city. At the end of the first week, it was time for our Orientation Daytrip, to explore the countryside of the Netherlands. We went to the beautiful Volendam and the traditional island of Marken. We saw the historical houses that the people of Marken built to prevent their homes from flooding. In the afternoon we hopped on a boat to bring us to Volendam where we got to play dress up in traditional Volendam clothing. It was wise to plan an inside-activity, as by the afternoon the weather had made its final change into a rainy fall. We ended our day program with a delicious Indonesian dinner in the center of Amsterdam!

VintaframeImageCIEE courses

We also started 4 CIEE courses this semester. Already in the program were Dutch Culture and Contemporary Dutch Social Policy, but this semester we added Beginning Dutch and Dutch Business Culture. The Dutch Business Culture course is designed especially for our Business & Culture students. (Through) In the course, students learn more about the Dutch economy, political system and business values. Themes include: the beginnings of Dutch trade, the Amsterdam stock exchange, the economic structure of the Netherlands, the Dutch political system, Dutch norms and work values, the 21st century economy of the Netherlands, and an insight into Dutch companies.

Interest groups

Furthermore, all of our interest groups have started. Last week it was time for a Dutch cooking workshop and a tour of the Nightwatch through Amsterdam. And on this week’s menu are ice skating in the Olympic Stadion, a queer tour of Amsterdam, a teaching workshop to start up the education volunteering project, and our very own CIEE journalists will start with this semester’s CIEE magazine!

All in all, we’re off to a good start of the semester. I hope you are doing well and I wish you a great semester too!

For more information about what your students are up to during this semester, just have a look around at this blog.

Best wishes,

Cato van Hees

Program Coordinator Business and Culture

02/13/2014

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.

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the tourguide guides students through rainy weather in Marken.

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

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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!

12/18/2013

FALL 2013, ISSUE III

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It’s already the last week of the Fall semester. Students are stepping in and out of the office this week and are sad to say goodbye to Amsterdam, where they met so many new friends and biked around the canals discovering local spots! It seems like it was just yesterday when students arrived here!

But at the moment students are either rounding off their final exams and handing in their papers, or enjoying their last days in Amsterdam like tourists, which includes strolling around the city and buying souvenirs for their families.

Semester wrap-up

Last week on Thursday we had our Final CIEE Meeting & Dinner. During the meeting we rounded off the academics, activities, and interest groups. It was a great semester for us in Amsterdam, we had 14 enthusiastic Business & Culture students in the program.  They were all motivated about their courses at the UvA ranging from “International Money and Banking” to “Cultural Industries” to “Dutch Language”. But they also grasped every chance to participate in some of the CIEE activities.  CIEE Farewell dinner

A few highlights are the overnight trip to Groningen in the north of the Netherlands, a company visit to VANMOOF bicycles, and a historical daytrip to Eindhoven and Den Bosch. Also in Amsterdam we had a lot of interest group activities on our list: teaching English at local elementary schools, visiting the Eye film museum with News & Media, the screening of Girl Rising, a multicultural tour of the Bijlmer, culinary Dutch cheese tasting, ice skating with the sports group, travelling back into the Golden Age on a daytrip, Thanksgiving, Sinterklaas, and many more!

Spring 2014 around the corner

With the Spring semester just around the corner, we are already busy preparing the orientation, our two new CIEE courses, and Summer 2014.

With our growing Business & Culture program in mind, we developed a new CIEE course about the Dutch Business Culture. Even though a small country, the Netherlands are a major player in business. Through the course students have the opportunity to learn more about the Dutch economy, political system and business values than what meets the eye, leading to a deeper understanding of Dutch business practices today and in the past.

Another course we are very excited about is Beginning Dutch. The Beginning Dutch course is for students traveling to the Netherlands with little or no prior knowledge of the Dutch language.

We have also started working on our Summer 2014 programs. This year we offer a wide variety of summer programs (including the Dutch Business Culture program) starting at various dates, short-term and long-term, for more information please have a look at our website: http://www.ciee.org/study-abroad/summer/

We hope your students had a wonderful semester abroad in Amsterdam and we’re looking forward to meeting the new group in Spring 2014. For more information about what your students we’re up to this semester, please have a look around this blog: http://study-abroad-blog-amsterdam-bc.ciee.org/

We wish you happy holidays from Amsterdam,

Jonathan, Caroline, Annabel, Renée, Cato

Group photo fall 2013

12/17/2013

A Grant Tour of the Dutch museums

I thought I would write my blog for CIEE about one of my top goals in Amsterdam - to see as many museums as possible, if not all of them. So I bought a museum card, which is an amazing deal because it's only 50 euro for most museums in the entire Netherlands (and only 30 euro if you buy a youth pass). I knew it would quickly be a smart purchase because most museums in Amsterdam are about 15 euro.

Because my class schedule is spread out across the day 4 days a week, I started going to smaller museums between classes. For instance, I spent 2 hours at the Verzetsmuseum between my Thursday CIEE classes. It is a great museum that is extremely informative and nicely set up. I learned a lot there and understood why it's so well reviewed. Highly recommend it.

I have also seen the Anne Frank House, Willet-Holtheuysen House, Amsterdam Museum (which I have since gone back to for their nice Mondriaan exhibit), Museum Van Loon, The Museum of Handbags and Purses, The Jewish Historical Museum, Nemo, The Maritime Museum, Allard Pierson Museum, Royal Palace at the Dam Square, Rembrandthuis, Tropenmuseum, Eye Museum, and the Hermitage Museum (and probably some others I can't think of right now). Rijks

I would consider the Hermitage to be my favorite museum in Amsterdam. There have been two large exhibits there this semester: one about Peter the Great and one about Gauguin, Bonnard, and Denis in Russian art collections prior to the 1917 Revolution. I have gone to the latter exhibit multiple times because it is so gorgeous. There is this one room in the exhibit called the music room that is covered with Denis murals and it is one of the prettiest things I have ever seen in art.

On Tuesday and the weekends, I have gone and continue to go to the bigger museums like the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh, Stedelijk Museum (which I have gone to a many times, including to see their in depth and awesome Malevich exhibit).MalevichOne of my other goals while studying abroad in the Netherlands is to see as many Dutch cities as possible, which ties together nicely with my museum plan. In Haarlem I saw the Teylers Museum (the oldest museum in the Netherlands and is really cool - right out of an Indiana Jones movie), the Frans Hals Museum and the Corrie ten Boom house. In Den Haag, I have the seen Prince William V Gallery, the Peace Palace Museum, and the Mesdag Collection. In Den Bosch, I visited the Het Noordbrabants Museum. In Groningen, the Groninger Museum. In Delft, Museum Paul Tetar van Elven. And in Rotterdam, I went to the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen which is a first class museum and absolutely worth visiting. Bojmans

I could not be happier with the abundance of art and other kinds of museums in the Netherlands. Furthermore, the museum card has made this all possible which has worked out perfectly. Otherwise I would have spent hundreds of euros on museum. For anyone reading this, if you have not gone to any of the museums and do have the opportunity to, especially if you have the museum card, I recommend you go even if just for a quick visit. Unfortunately I do not think I'll be able to visit every museum in Amsterdam, but I am really happy with how many I have gone to and how much I have learned about art, culture, and other things like handbags.

Grant Johnson

12/12/2013

Thanksgiving!

What happens when you are studying abroad and miss the best American holiday of the year? Well, of course CIEE makes the second best Thanksgiving you could ever have!

On Thanksgiving, we got together at the Schreierstoren, one of the oldest buildings in Amsterdam for dinner! We had to bring a dish so that everyone had plenty to eat. I had never cooked Thanksgiving dinner before so I had some trouble coming up with what to make. I finally decided on mashed potatoes with another student and we made so many. I never got to try them, but I hope they turned out well!

Thanksgiving

At dinner, we all were able to talk with RA’s, teachers, CIEE staff, and even meet some of the homestay families! It was weird not being with family on Thanksgiving, but it was so much fun to be with my new family away from home.

The dinner was amazing! We had turkey, stuffing, sweet and mashed potatoes, and even pumpkin pie. Everyone ate so much and I think the Dutch guests were curious as to why we would eat until we wanted to go to bed. Nonetheless, it was a lovely evening that everyone really put something into. It made it more special that we all cooked. I am so thankful for all of the new friends and experiences in Amsterdam, and CIEE Thanksgiving was the perfect evening to remind me of that.

Maddie Pearse - College of Charleston