In the following reports, you will read about the experiences of international students who came to Amsterdam from all over the world and of UvA students who went abroad. You can read their stories in the Exchange Express as well.
My academic experience at the UvA is in some ways different than at my home university in the UK. Here in Amsterdam I don’t have as much group work but I need to focus more on the weekly readings. The semester structure with subject blocks is completely new for me but I think it helps to find motivation for studying for a subject continuously. I’m studying in the Social Sciences department and there are a lot of assignments and you need to learn how to manage your time, as the assignments require a lot of individual work.
Studying in Amsterdam is a different experience compared to London. The city is definitely more compact and I really like getting around by bike. It came as a shock to me that there are bike lanes literally everywhere. I see Amsterdam as a very welcoming, open city, which has a lot to offer for people with different interests and needs.
While the majority of tourists, who come to Amsterdam tend to wander around the canals, I think that to get to know the city better, people should visit the north side of it. There are a lot of cool café’s, bars and places to hang out in Amsterdam Noord and it is completely different to what people imagine when coming to this city. Obviously, I really liked Rijksmuseum, which is just too big for one visit and I would suggest every exchange student to buy a Museumkaart.
My name is Daria Girju and I am a 2nd-year Bachelor student from Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies on a 10-month long Erasmus exchange at UvA (Economics & Business programme). From an academic perspective, the UvA is very different from my home university. The way the semester is structured in three study blocks and that you only study two courses or one at a time seemed quite unusual for me at first. There is definitely more workload here and the courses are fast-paced and intense. This system enables students to always be up-to-date with the literature reading and the lectures in order to be well-prepared in advance for the final exams. At the UvA, there is a stronger emphasis on group assignments than in my home university, which has helped me develop my communication skills and even make new friends from completely different corners of the world.
Culturally speaking, Amsterdam is one of the best places to be. Dutch people are generally very nice and helpful (and almost everybody speaks English!!). They may seem cold-hearted at first, but once you get to know them they will warm up to you and become great friends. Speaking of Dutch people, they really like bicycles - there are around 881.000 in the city. That means that there are more bikes than people!
Amsterdam is rich in museums, cozy cafes and lovely parks where you can just sit back and relax. One of my favourite places to go to is the cookie shop Van Stapele Koekmakerij in the Centrum where you can taste the best chocolate cookies in the world. As for museums, I really enjoyed the Amsterdam Museum and the Rijksmuseum, of course (make sure you find the hidden library!).
My name is Adrian Olar, I am a student in the 2nd year of bachelor at Bucharest Academy of Economic studies in exchange at Universiteit van Amsterdam. The higher education system in the Netherlands is very different from the one in my country because the semester here is divided into blocks that usually have 2 courses. I found difficult studying 2 intensive courses in a period of 2 months. At a first look it seems to be easy having just a course a day, but after a check on the blackboard assignments and mandatory readings, I changed my opinion about workload requested for studying at UvA. In Romania, we study all the disciplines during the semester and at the end we have exams. As a difference from UvA we have less amount to study per course.
From a cultural point of view, Amsterdam is a rich city. It boasts 96 theaters, 81 museums and 54 art galleries. The Dutch culture can be seen in the life of the city in spite of the large variety of nationalities living in. Visiting the city I saw many people cycling, the kindness and polite people that like to say "Act normal, it's crazy enough".
Socially, Amsterdam is a great city because of its variety of events. There is always something happening in Amsterdam. From classical music concerts to student parties, or from art exhibitions at museums to graffiti Amsterdam is a city where everyone has a place. I enjoyed visiting the Rijksmuseum, the most important museum of art in the Netherlands.
Hey, I am Anne-Gaëlle ! I come from the University of Nantes in France.
My academic experience at the UvA is really different from what I am used to in my home University ! I have far less classes than in France, but a lot of academic readings to do on my own, and group assignments as well. The Social Science department offers a lot of classes taught in English so it was hard to make a choice ! The classes are far more interactive than in France, you can express yourself easily , teachers are open-minded, and encouraging. The University also offers a lot of free / cheap professional workshop (Linked In, create your future, networking ….) which are deeply interesting !
Amsterdam is really green and dynamic. No matter what you are up for, there is always something to do and a lot of different atmospheres to discover! By bike – you have to get a bike !!! - you can easily enjoy the Dutch architecture, the canals and the nature (which is never really far). If you love architecture Amsterdam is for you. My favorites places? Java-Eiland and Bornéo Eiland definitely! If you like alternative places Amsterdam is also for you : you can find there a lot cool cafés to chill with your friends.
I was a bit afraid of being alone there, but I have a wonderful flatmate and the University and students' associations organize a lot of events to let you meet your new friends ! The UvA is so International that my Erasmus sounds more global than European ! I met people from China, Russia, New-Zealand … The sports classes are also a good way to make new friends and you can try crazy sports such pole dancing or trampoline fitness !
I choose this picture to represent my Erasmus : canals, friends and fun.
The big difference on the academic area between the University of Birmingham and the University of Amsterdam was that I had multiple modules at the same time throughout the whole semester instead of one per block. Also, I had no exams, only essay assignments, which was also because I only stayed one semester and some exams being held later in the year were changed to essay assignments. I chose the University of Birmingham because they offered some interesting modules in my area of study, although they paid less attention to the biological part of psychological theories than I expected. For me, this made the overall level of the modules easier than in the Netherlands.
The British culture is in broad lines like the Dutch, since they’re both Western countries. There are some differences but I think it´s actually fun to get to know these differences (like British people never wearing coats when they go out).
I really enjoyed the fact that there was one (beautiful) campus and that all the students were living close by. There are always friends living close to your place and it leads to a nice student hub. The city centre is really interesting since it’s quite modern, but it also has its older, more industrial part.
I would totally recommend the University of Birmingham, but I guess a studying abroad experience is fantastic anywhere!
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