What do you do in your free time in Amsterdam?
During my time in Amsterdam, I didn’t have as much free time as I would’ve thought! I think this is due to the difficulty of the university classes I was placed in, as much of my time was spent sifting through material and getting acclimated to graduating seminars. However, there’s lots of options for what to do when you have extra time! I would always check online or on Instagram to see what markets were happening either during the week or on the weekends, explore a new part of the city I hadn’t been to yet, or even take the train to a neighboring area! Haarlem and Utrecht are both less than 30 minutes away by train (depending upon where in Amsterdam you are it can be a little more or less) and are great places ot go if you’re looking for a day trip or little get away. Plus, there’s always more to do and see in the city! While I was there over the holidays, there are plenty of seasonal activities, like light shows and holiday markets, and there was even the Amsterdam Dance Event and a film showcase earlier in the Fall. Just to say, the city doesn’t disappoint when it comes to event planning so you’ll always find something new to do!
What is your everyday schedule like abroad?
A usual day for me would include one or two classes, either at the IES Abroad center or at the UvA, and doing some studying/homework (especially during midterms and finals!). So I’d wake up, sometimes do a workout in my room sometimes not, have an easy breakfast like oatmeal (and during the blustery winter months you’ll want something warm in the morning!), and head to class on the metro. If it was a tough week and I needed a pick me up, I would stop for a chai latte at Bakhuys, just around the corner from UvA Roeterseiland campus. Both of my UvA classes were seminar style, so they were two to three hours each. My first class was from 12:00-15:00 (they’re big fans of military time abroad!). After class, I’d spend some time studying in the law library in Building A, or go across the city early for my next class and study in the cafeteria area at P.C. Hoofthuis. Other days I’d go back to my hotel building and get a nice walk in around my area. Then, I’d go to my last class of the day, a 17:00-19:00 English course. After class, I’d walk to either Centraal Station or the Nieuwmarkt metro station with friends and head home for the night! Pro-tip: it’s highly unusual for students in European countries to go back to their rooms and nap, or even go to class with wet hair. You get ready for your day fully before you leave, and usually spend the rest of the day out!
Would you recommend taking classes at the exchange center or your city’s university?
I’d recommend taking classes at your city’s university, or a mix of both uni and exchange center. I think one of the perks of studying in Amsterdam through IES Abroad was that it allowed me to attend the UvA. Most programs only allow exchange center courses. Through the UvA, I met students from all over the world, and now I have connections with students from Greece, Portugal, Albania, Morocco and of course, various cities in the Netherlands. The interactions with students coupled with building relationships with professors became something I looked forward to: just showing up to class and enjoying the company of my class friends and the intimate environment of taking seminar-style classes in a new country. I learned invaluable lessons and made lasting relationships by going to UvA. And here’s the thing: friends who had studied abroad before me said that academics would be a walk in the park, and that I’d spend my time with friends, traveling, and learning the city. Don’t compare your experiences to others! Those friends did not take classes at their city’s university. My classes at uni were difficult, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. It just depends on what type of abroad journey you’re looking for.
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Hi! I'm Katie. I enjoy iced matcha lattes, sunset walks, and Bernedoodles! I'm a huge book lover, and will easily pick up the newest summer romance. I also have a knack for crafting playlists for friends and could listen to the same song all day!