Mark is a Senior at Tufts University, focused academically on Health Economics. Growing up, he spent nine years living in Beijing and Tokyo, but had never been to Europe.Interviewed on - 10 February 2015
I chose to study abroad to gain new experiences that I could not get back at Tufts. For me, going abroad represented not only a chance to study something new, but to be taken out of my routine in general.
I wanted to study things outside of my typical academic routine. As a Quantitative Economics and Biology double-major, this meant art history and gender and sexuality. Amsterdam is the perfect city to study these topics, given the epic art history of the Dutch and the “pragmatic tolerance” that defines the politics of the Netherlands.
I knew that with IES Abroad I would have no issues transferring credits towards my liberal arts requirements at Tufts.
I lived with a roommate that I chose to study abroad with from my home university. Our apartment building was awesome, and we lived with many other study abroad students from not only our program, but many programs internationally. The location was great as well. Very close to the city center, but enough out of the way to avoid the hordes of tourists that invade the major sites. We were also incredibly close to the best brewery in the city and the IES Abroad office.
I would wake up, cook breakfast, read, go to my class and then had the rest of the day ahead of me to do as I pleased. Often I would visit one of the many spectacular museums in Amsterdam, crossing another of my list each time. We could visit essentially every museum in the city for free with the museum cards the IES Abroad program provided for us. Then I would go grocery shopping, either in one of the many outdoor markets throughout the city or in the very affordable Albert Heijn. My roommate and I would then typically cook dinner together. At night, I would spend time in my room with others in the apartment or we would go out to hang out at a bar in town.
One day my friends and I went on a long ~50km bike ride north of Amsterdam. We took a quick (free) ferry to Amsterdam Noord, then biked for hours along the farmlands and water. The bike ride was beautiful. Along the way we stopped in little Dutch towns, checking out some of the stores and snacking on herring.
Finally our trip took us to Edam, a small but famous cheese town, where there happened to be a special festival going on that day. The festival brought an awesome market, with freshly cooked street foods, free beer tasting, and even a petting zoo. We spent some time there and then started our journey back.
On the way back, we decided to bike out to Marken, a tiny Dutch town that was originally an island but is now connected by the narrow bike path that we rode along. We stayed in Marken to watch the sunset come down over the water and then finally biked back to Amsterdam.
Being separated from my community back at Tufts. This was also a huge learning opportunity, however.
The livability of the city. The parks, the markets, the museums, the beer.
Yes. If you are looking for an English speaking program, then IES Amsterdam program is a unique option. In one semester, you can get a really great feel for the city, especially since you bike wherever you go.