The STUDY in Study Abroad

Headshot of Rachel Alliker.
Rachel Alliker
June 15, 2023

Things to Know About Dutch University 

Coming into study abroad, I knew that I would be attending one of the top schools in the Netherlands. I was enrolled in one class through IES Abroad called “Highlights of Dutch Art” which I absolutely loved. I selected classes that were as close as I could get to my major at Vrije Universiteit. Going to university in the Netherlands was one of the biggest shockers during my study abroad experience. 

  • Class size
    • I go to a small undergraduate college and I had never been in classes with more than 30 people! 60 people to a class was a huge adjustment. 
  • Teaching style 
    • I felt as if the courses were taught like graduate schoolhuge emphasis on self instruction and less help from the professors. 
  • Student life 
    • As opposed to college campuses in the United States, schools are less focused on creating student life groups on campus. There were some campus groups that I saw flyers for, but they were not circulated widely. 
  • Student body 
    • A lot of the students I met in my classes were also international students. I didn’t interact with many of the Dutch students and felt that the international students were more welcoming. 
  • Professor feedback
    • It took a long time to receive professor feedback on work. 
  • Grading system 
    • The Dutch grading system is a 1-10 scale. This is very different from the US system of A-F and for IES Abroad and in order to gain credit from our home university, you need to achieve at least a 5.5 on your exams. 
  • Final exams 
    • There is a HUGE emphasis on final exams and I took one that made up 100% of my final grade. This is very different from the US where there is a larger emphasis on group work and collaboration 
  • Lecture/Seminar 
    • Some classes met multiple times a week for a lecture session and for a seminar which could serve as a small group meeting.
  • Course Intensity 
    • Overall, I wasn’t expecting the courses and the workload to be so intense. 
  • UvA vs. VU 
    • According to some of my friends who studied at UvA, they felt that their classes weren’t as challenging but were still difficult.  

While you’re here: 

  • Ask for help
    • Reach out to professors and TA’s as they can be a huge help with assignments and studying (you just need to initiate the help!) 
  • Make sure you balance school and travel 
    • You are studying abroad to travel and experience the citytry and explore different coffee shops and libraries to study while also taking time for yourself and your travels!
  • Take IES Abroad courses 
    • This is a great way to meet people in your program and make new friends while being in a classroom setting that is more similar to the US. 

I hope my experiences at school in the Netherlands helped prepare you for your studies when you arrive! 

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Headshot of Rachel Alliker.

Rachel Alliker

Hi! My name is Rachel Alliker and I am a Junior Psychology major and Spanish and Honors Forum double minor at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY! I am from Greenwich, CT and I’m excited to be studying abroad in Amsterdam with IES (Spring 2023). At Skidmore, I am one of the head tour guides, a Writing Center tutor, a sustainability office volunteer. I’m also a part of the Positive Psychology Lab and Co-Vice President of the Honors Forum. Outside of academics, I love to bake, read, spend time with my friends and my dogs.

2023 Spring
Home University:
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