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12 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


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!






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:

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:

We wish you happy holidays from Amsterdam,

Jonathan, Caroline, Annabel, Renée, Cato

Group photo fall 2013


VANMOOF commuter bicycles - company visit

“We like bikes and we like you and the rest of the world to ride bikes and like them too, VANMOOF.”  

The best way to learn about another culture is to get an insider’s view, so that’s what we did last Friday when we went to VANMOOF – commuter bicycles. We wanted to learn something about Dutch Business Culture. The visit gave us an idea of creative Dutch entrepreneurship and the success stemming from the use of innovative marketing and technology. And of course, we couldn’t go more Dutch than a bicycle company!

VANMOOF is a famous Dutch bicycle producer and seller, but their bikes are not only up and coming in the Netherlands. In their mission to change the traditional means of inner city transport in cities worldwide, VANMOOF is on its way to reach annual sales of 30,000 bikes sold in countries like the United States, Russia, Japan and many more.

Vanmoof home

So, the owners of VANMOOF thought if we want to make cycling attractive all over the world, the one thing we need is an attractive bicycle. So they started asking around in the world, what do you like and what do you not like about a bicycle? The excessive accessories were definitely something that had to go! But they also asked for advice from many other industries, for example when they asked PHILIPS to produce the headlights, which they designed similarly to the headlights of a car. Why? So that even in cities where you don’t have a bike lane yet, you can still cycle safely.

So now they had a good product and an innovative character, which both really helped them with their success. There is another thing they have, which is a huge buzz around them. So many bloggers, companies, and journalists were so impressed by VANMOOF’s style and product that they had to be part of it. Either they were (and still are) writing amazing stories about it or they wanted to start a partnership with VANMOOF! Niels was actually straight-forward about that, “I guess when you have a really good product, made with love, the marketing kind of expands on its own.”VintaframeImage

The company visit took a bit longer than planned because Niels was so enthusiastic in telling the VANMOOF story. However, at the end luckily there was still time to try their latest bike, the E-bike! A bike suited with a GPS and technology that adjusts the bike to your speed. So if you wanted to go fast, the bike would accommodate that! Allan on the bike

All in all, we learned a lot from Niels about VANMOOF’s creativity, their courage, and their strong belief in their product to put cycling on the world map. 



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 their 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


Fall 2013, issue II

NewsletterBannerAmsterdam686x101We are already halfway through the semester, last week students were studying for their exams or they were taking off for travels around Europe! Popular cities this weekend were Rome, Paris, Budapest, and Stockholm. At the University of Amsterdam the Fall semester is split up into two blocks, so last week we finished the first. Time is flying by!

With all these beautiful cities in Europe, we are lucky that Amsterdam is the favorite and students have come to see it as their home now. Cycling along the canals like a true Amsterdammer and ringing away every tourist on their path. Eating bread for breakfast with the most Dutch topping Hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles). Being able to pronounce their address and the other canals Prinsengracht, Herengracht, Keizersgracht.

Midterm meetings

With all students we have had a short midterm meeting to discuss academics, housing and their life here in Amsterdam. Overall students are very happy with the courses they have chosen and their Dutch agenda. Besides their studies, they are exploring their interests all over the city. Joining painting courses, playing for the Amsterdam ice hockey team, or exploring the European capital cities.


Amongst other NGOs, companies and policymakers, CIEE is a sponsor of the film project Girl Rising. All over the world CIEE Study Centers were organizing movie nights to screen Girl Rising in light of the International Day of the Girl. Together with our colleagues, students and friends we saw the film at a movie theater right around the corner from the CIEE office.

Girl Rising tells the stories of 9 girls from 9 countries, written by 9 celebrated writers and narrated by 9 renowned actresses. I think everyone was inspired by the girls and their stories and went home with a greater awareness on the difficult subject of education for girls. Girl rising

Other than that, we travelled back in time in Amsterdam. We went into the 17th century to discover the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) and the Golden Age of the Netherlands. You can read more about this daytrip in a student’s story on this blog:

Interest groups

CIEE Amsterdam offers students a range of interest groups, from which students can pick and choose activities and excursions of their interest. During the past month, our Sports group did a Dutch version of a boot camp in the park. The Multicultural group went on a tour through Chinatown in Amsterdam, and they learned all about the origins of the Chinatown, which is situated in the middle of the city center. The good food tour of the Culinary group was so popular that we had to arrange it twice; they went to taste traditional foods from surrounding neighborhoods of Amsterdam. The News & media group went to the EYE, one of Amsterdam’s latest architectural prides, it’s both a film museum and movie theater in one. The Queer group did a Homosexuality in the Animal Kingdom Tour through the zoo! And finally, the Education group is a volunteering project in which students teach English to kids from elementary schools. The other day, the students taught a class about writing songs and Hollywood, and our students had the kids write their own songs. One group even did an English rap, using the words they learned.

The final news letter for the Fall semester will be posted on this blog by late December.


Cato van Hees
Business and Culture Program Coordinator