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Student Anne-Mieke van Strien on her experiences studying Jewish Studies.
Anne-Mieke van Strien

Why did you choose Jewish Studies?

‘I have a Bachelor’s in Religious Studies and I was already exclusively interested in studying Judaism during that degree programme. Doing this Master’s programme was therefore a logical next step for me. Almost all students have a different academic background. That makes this study extremely enjoyable. Everyone brings their own expertise and knowledge, but we find common ground in the same interest: Jewish Studies.’

Why did you opt for Jewish Studies at the UvA?

‘I was already studying at the UvA and this is the only Master’s programme in the Netherlands that is fully focused on studying Judaism and Jewish (cultural) life in a historical and contemporary context. Moreover, the UvA offers lots of electives that appeal to me, which I wanted to take advantage of to fill in my elective space.'

What do you think about Amsterdam as a city to study Jewish Studies?

'Amazing! The city lives and breathes Jewish Studies. You can see, hear and taste the Jewish life of today, and of the past, both in the city centre and in districts located further away. Amsterdam and Jews have been interconnected for centuries and that is still perceptible and tangible: art, literature, architecture, delicacies at the bakery, the words that you hear on the street... you can’t escape it! Mokum, the affectionate nickname for the city of Amsterdam has its origins in the Hebrew language and in the Jewish community, but is also commonly used outside the Jewish community now. That connection still exists.’

What do you think about the content of the study?

‘Very interesting. What’s fun and unique about the degree programme is that for the most part, you are actually responsible for the content of the study yourself. That means that you draw up a personal programme, in consultation with a lecturer, based on your interests and personal plans for the future. The courses and/or tutorials that you take or design yourself can tie in with your needs, in terms of both content and methodology. For example, I did a one-on-one tutorial with a lecturer in which we studied a section from the Zohar (mystical commentary on the Torah) together, but I also did also a tutorial about antisemitism together with other students.'

What’s the atmosphere like in your study?

‘The atmosphere in the study is very open, safe and pleasant. All the students have a different academic, cultural and religious background. There are also a lot of international students doing this degree programme. This all leads to interesting dialogues in which there is a lot of room for different points of view. The contact between students and lecturers is also good. It is easy to talk to lecturers, because it’s a small study programme with few students. The lecturers are happy to provide input on the specifics of your study and are willing to help you when it comes to taking the next steps in your future career.’