Managing homesickness – some (hopefully) helpful advice!

by Aimee Kinniburgh, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Netherlands

When moving abroad, so much of what you’re told is positive: you’ll make the best friends, you’ll experience new cultures, you’ll learn so much about yourself. Of course, all of this is true and already my year abroad is turning into one of the best years of my life. However, what I think people often miss is that whilst you experience some of the highest highs, that also comes with experiencing some of the lowest lows. This isn’t in any way to put you off going, I fundamentally think it’s one of the best things you could ever do. But given all of this I thought it might be a good idea to write about my experiences with homesickness and some of the ways I found to deal with missing your home comforts and life back home, in the hope that maybe this helps someone else feeling this way, or in the least act as some free therapy for me!

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First Impressions of Sustainability in Amsterdam

By Molly Hayward, University Of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam is well known as an ‘eco-capital’ and is a prominent example of a sustainable city. This was one of the elements that led to me choosing it for my study abroad. Since arriving, a couple of months ago, I have had time to create initial impressions of how true this is on the ground, these are my thoughts:

Firstly there is a great deal of visible sustainability. The UVA campus has lots of water points scattered around, the coffee machines recommend re-using the compostable cup and there is a notable lack of plastic disposal cutlery available – choosing instead the wooden alternative.

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Amsterdammer Diaries: First* Month Favourites

*and second

By Hannah Carter-Moore, University of Amsterdam

The fact that I haven’t had time until now to sit down and write my first blog since arriving here in ‘Dam should give you a sense of what a full on experience it’s been so far. 

I’m currently sitting on my sweet canal-side terrace trying to catch the last rays before Amsterdam plunges into Winter, finally taking the moment to reflect on this crazy past month.

not a bad view eh?
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How to not be homeless in Amsterdam (some hopefully helpful housing advice)

By Hannah Carter-Moore, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Nowhere does a housing crisis quite like Amsterdam. When I was in the midst of looking at all the options for accommodation, I wished I had someone to just tell me what to do – so that’s what I’m doing here.

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Some things to bring back from your study abroad experience

By Hannah Wheeler, Vrije Universitiet, Netherlands

Going back home always holds challenges. Sometimes it is easy to fall back into old roles and forget about the experiences and developments that you have gone through. Even just going back from university to your home city with your family, it’s easy to slip back into old habits. This was something I was worried about when I thought about going back to Manchester after my year in Amsterdam. I was scared of returning to my default student ways. Not that all the defaults are a bad thing, but also some I had grown out of in my year away. Your environment is a massive impacting factor in how you behave and what you focus on. So naturally, moving countries will affect you. It’s not easy. 

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A Week of Living in Amsterdam

by Aimee Kinniburgh, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Netherlands

As I’m writing this, today marks one week of living in Amsterdam and what a week it’s been. It feels like a lifetime ago I left for Bristol airport and said goodbye to my life in England for the next year. This week has been full of the highest highs and also some of the lowest lows, as is often the case when you pack up your life and move countries. So I thought I would make a list of the most important things I’ve learnt after my first week in Amsterdam. I’m sure this list will only grow throughout my time here but here’s what I’ve learnt so far.

  1. Get. A. Bike. – it sounds obvious but my god life in Amsterdam is impossible without one. Swapfiets will become your best friend, even if they do give you a bike that was too big and too heavy for your small little legs to start with. Some of the best moments of your first week will be when it’s just you, your bike and some music cycling around and exploring the city so just bite the bullet and pay for a bike. 
  1. On top of this get a bike coat. You’ll think they’re ridiculous at the start but trust me you won’t care how silly you look when it’s chucking it down with rain and you’re having to cycle 40 minutes to get home. The drowned rat look is not a good one. 
  1. Campus is beautiful but very confusing so make sure you leave plenty of time to find your lecture halls and seminar rooms. It makes for some very awkward first impressions when you have to walk in late.
  1. Cooking is going to be a whole new experience in Amsterdam. Ovens seem to simply not exist out here so get ready for a lot of pasta and rice in the first few days before you figure out how to cook with only two hobs and find out where to buy spices from.
  1. Going out in Amsterdam is revolutionary. Everyone is so friendly and respectful so take advantage and chat to as many people as you can! It’s the best way to make friends and makes for some very funny stories in the morning
  2. And finally, it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and like you’ll never get settled into your new life. It’s a big deal to move to a completely different country and everything will feel too much at times but even after a week life is settling down so give it time and you’ll be fine!

Hidden gems: Amsterdam edition

By Hannah Wheeler, Vrije Universitiet, Netherlands

Throughout my year in Amsterdam, I was always keen to try and find spots that were beyond the tourist’s gaze. When I met an Amsterdamer, I would often ask what places they recommended and what were their favourite parts of the city. Here are a few places I discovered and fell in love with… 

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50 things to do while studying in Amsterdam

By Hannah Wheeler, Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands

Here is a list of some of the best things, both touristy and Dutchie, to do in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. I hope it has something that will appeal to everyone: from club recommendations to must try cookies…

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Adjusting To The Dutch Academic System: The Way To An Easier Life 

By Hannah Wheeler, Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands

When preparing to go to the Netherlands, I didn’t think much about how the dutch academic system would be different. My mind was preoccupied with thoughts about housing, friends and Covid.

Now that I’ve been studying in the Netherlands for 8 months I wanted to share some tips to help deal with the different academic style.

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The differences in teaching and learning in the Netherlands

When I came to study in Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA) I was shocked with how different the block system vs the Manchester semester system was. Here are some of the key differences I experienced and what I learnt through these different contexts. 

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Cheap Springtime activities to do in the Netherlands!

Written on 4th of May, 2022

Spring has by far been my favourite season in the Netherlands, with the rise in temperatures I have been able to take advantage of all the green spaces available in this beautiful European country! Here are a few springtime activities, on a budget, I have enjoyed thus far! 

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