Who: Julie Nürnberger (1996)
Studied: Bachelor's in Psychology, specialisations Clinical Psychology and Developmental Psychology
First job: Tutoring
Favourite place at the UvA: The Lutheran Church on the Spui. I don't visit often but I think it's beautiful.
Essential: Lectures, otherwise you could just read a book.
Julie Nürnberger (1996) is a Psychology Bachelor's student and is pursuing specialisations in Clinical Psychology and Developmental Psychology. Remarkably, she decided to study Psychology at the UvA rather than in her native Germany. Julie took the NT2 (Dutch as a Second Language) exam and passed with flying colours, making Dutch the sixth language she speaks fluently. Soon, after completing two minors, two specialisations and the Honours programme, she'll travel to Canada as an exchange student in order to learn more about Sexuality and Gender Studies.
So you found yourself, as a German, starting a Psychology programme taught in Dutch in Amsterdam. That must have taken some getting used to.
‘Oh absolutely, it did. Studying was harder than I expected it to be, at first. I was living in a new country, of course, and attending classes taught in a new language, so I was asking a lot of myself. My father advised me to keep going, so I did, with the idea of giving it at least one more year. Then, in the second semester of the first year, I suddenly earned an 8.5 for one of my courses, and that moment was the turning point. My Dutch had gotten better and I began to gain confidence. In terms of the content, the Psychology programme is more or less what I expected. You start out with broad strokes and as the programme progresses, you begin to specialise more and more, which is a structure I like. The courses you take in the first year offer a kind of overview of the various specialisations you can choose from later on. And in any case, you'll be taught statistics and research skills as well. I'd describe the second year as when you build your scientific basis. During that year, you learn lots of research skills, interview skills, philosophy of science and a bit of diagnostics. Then, in the third year, you really start to specialise.’
I was ready to delve deep.
You seem to like really pushing yourself to your full potential. Does the UvA offer enough space for you to do that?
‘Technically, the idea is that you choose one specialisation in your third year, but I chose to pursue two because it seemed completely feasible. I'm currently working on Clinical Developmental Psychology and soon I'll be switching to Clinical Psychology. You can't do two specialisations at the same time, but there is a bit of overlap in the required courses. That is why my second specialisation will only take six months. It's perfect for me, because I wouldn't be satisfied with just one specialisation. Technically, I'm doing two third years. I'll be using the six months left over after my second specialisation to do an exchange programme in Canada. I've been accepted to McGill University, where I plan to delve more deeply into Sexuality and Gender Studies. It will take me a year longer to complete my Bachelor's, but I'm making the absolute most of it. I did the Honours programme and followed two minors in addition to my Psychology degree programme: one in Communication Science and one in Sexuality and Gender Studies. I chose the latter because it was an area I didn't know much about. Even if I'm socially engaged, I'm not truly personally affected, if you know what I mean. As a white, middle-class, straight person, I don't encounter much discrimination, which is precisely why I feel it's important to explore the subject in greater depth and develop a critical perspective on the psychology involved. I want to learn more about oppression in different areas and about the experiential framework each of us applies. My frame of reference is very different than that of a person of colour or a different sexual orientation. It is important to reflect on your own context and to avoid focusing solely on the majority.’
The lecturers are involved with the students and can teach you a great deal about real-world practice.
Do you like your lecturers and fellow students here in the Netherlands?
‘The Psychology lecturers are really nice. They are involved with the students and can teach you a great deal about real-world practice. Many of the lecturers take part in job-sharing, which means that besides teaching, they are also a practising psychologist. People who combine the two aspects like this are “Science Practitioners”. For me, that would be a dream job for the future. I think it's good when the people teaching the courses can bring their practical experience with them to the university. The students are friendly and fun, too. Dutch people are a little reserved, but once you get past the surface they are very nice.’
Once you really get to know Amsterdam, you'll find all kinds of great hidden spots and alternative things.
And have you found the freedom you were looking for here at the UvA and in Amsterdam?
‘Absolutely, yes. I think Amsterdam is a very beautiful city. It's small, but it has everything you could want: culture, nature, parties. There is a huge music scene here. Once you really get to know Amsterdam, you'll find all kinds of great hidden spots and alternative things. De Ceuvel in Amsterdam North, for instance, or Garage Noord – those places are so exciting and creative. The only part that was a bit trickier was finding a place to live. I lived with a family for two years and babysat their daughter in exchange for a place to live. Right now, I am a Residence Assistant, which means I live in student housing owned by the University and act as a caretaker. Unfortunately, I will have to move out soon because I'm leaving for Canada. Luckily, I now have more connections in the city who can help me find a room when I get back.