Pia Christiansson, Stockholm University, Sweden, exchange student Pedagogical and Educational Sciences:
While finishing my work during my exchange semester here at the UvA, with the last exam to be done at the end of the month, I look back and think about this experience. I have definitely had a great time and I will try to explain what made it such a great experience.
The city is a good combination of a small town feeling, with its small-scaled streets and dense city centre while at the same time it has all the facilities which a big city can offer such as festivals, museums, cinemas (including several film-festivals), shops, bars, theatres and markets.
The small size also explains the Dutch people’s preference for bike riding and I must say that I am hooked as well. It is so easy to jump on a bike instead of spending “hours” of waiting for buses or trams, and it also takes you to the exact location you want to go. I have to admit that it was quite scary though in the beginning. It takes some time to get used to the biking “rules” of Amsterdam; nobody really stops for red lights, and everybody rides on bikes that seems to fall apart any second, but in a strange way the traffic seems to run smoothly anyway.
I now have a proper Amsterdam bike, a black grandma’ model with a package holder in the front, which I proudly ride along the canals, still quite carefully though (compared to the natives).
The positive thing about taking courses in Dutch is that I was able to take classes with mostly Dutch people, which I thought was much nicer than spending time with other exchange students only. I had been taking language courses before, in Barcelona, where I only took classes with non-Spanish students, and we foreigners became a bit isolated from Spanish life. Of course there are other reasons for this as well: one is that Dutch students all have a good command of English which makes it easier to communicate.