For four months, I was fortunate enough to live and study in Amsterdam. Even within the first few hours of walking around the city, I quickly fell in love with its canals, bridges, and historical background embedded in the streets. Even more so, I made connections with people I can call my friends for a lifetime.
My study abroad experience is definitely a top highlight of my undergraduate experience. I did a program through another SUNY school, and studied at the Faculty of Economics at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, a.k.a. Hogeschool van Amsterdam. The courses I took during my time there allowed me to mingle with local students as well as other exchange students. Often times, with both the local and exchange students, we would chat about the differences in our cultures and lifestyles. To my surprise, most of the students participating in my exchange program were from other European countries. So, not only did I get to learn about the Dutch culture, but also Belgian, Spanish, and German culture as well. Going abroad helped me do go out of my comfort zone, try new things, and meet different people!
Amsterdam is a hub for creativity and authentic expression. Not only are there many art museums such as the MOCO or Van Gogh, but also many markets with local artists showcasing their works. Street art can be found throughout the city, inspiring your next art piece or acting as a good background for your latest Instagram post.
One of my favorite past times is going for a canal cruise. There are different options when picking the type of cruise ride you want. Some boats are open air, others are closed top, and the remainder are half and half. If weather permits, my recommendation would be the open air boats. The view of row houses, bridges, and other sights of the city are much better, and plus breaths of fresh air are a huge mood lifter. Alongside most canal cruises, there is audio guidance on the history of Amsterdam. What better way to learn about the Dancing Houses or the most expensive street in Amsterdam (Keizersgracht) than hearing about it in person with the sights right in front of you.
Other than doing a cruise ride, other must do’s are the Albert Cuypt market, the Anne Frank house, and visiting the Iamsterdam sign in front of the the Rijksmuseum. At the Albert Cuypt market there are many dutch snacks you can try, such as the bitterballen (my personal favorite) or the famous stroopwafels. The Anne Frank museum – well, that’s pretty self explanatory. All I can say is that it was surreal walking through Anne’s hidden home and seeing for myself what I had learned in school many years ago. To top it all off, if you don’t take the iconic photo with the Iamsterdam sign – did you really ever visit Amsterdam?
Amsterdam will always have a place in my heart. I would highly recommend anyone interested in studying abroad to do more research, and start making moves to make it a reality!
Justina Liaw, an Accounting major, studied at Hogeschool van Amsterdam – Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands through Buffalo State in fall 2018.