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  • Writer's pictureStudent blogger

Mid-Semester Milestones and Fun Stats

Time flies when you’re having fun and studying hard, and it’s incredible to think how much has happened since I first set foot in Amsterdam. Here’s a snapshot of my journey so far, packed with fun stats and personal milestones:


Time in Amsterdam:

  • Arrival Date: January 12th, 2024

·         Current date of writing: June 4th, 2024

·         Departure date: Unknown and luckily far into the future!

  • Total Days in Amsterdam: 144 days (or 4 months and 23 days)

  • Percentage of 2024 Spent Here: 40%

Academic Achievements:

  • Courses Completed: 3 out of 5

  • Assignments handed in: 38

  • Days Until Graduation: 24 days

·         Total Study Hours: 840

·         ECTS earned: Hopefully all 30 soon

Language Learning Progress:

  • Duolingo Section: 2, Unit: 9

  • Duo Streak: 346 days

  • Mastered words: 412 – Funnily enough I also find “moeilijk” to be the hardest word to spell

  • In person conversations: 5 sober – more than 10 tipsy convos

Cultural and Social Highlights:

  • Cities Visited: 8 (Amsterdam, Delft, Groningen, Haarlem, Antwerp, Vienna, Copenhagen x3 and Paris)

  • Biking km Covered: 1150

  • Coffees Consumed: Well above 500

  • King’s Day Celebrations: 1 unforgettable experience

 

Academic Insights: It's crazy to think that I've already completed three out of my five courses. As I reflect on my academic journey, I'm thrilled with the diverse courses I've taken and the ones I'm still taking this semester. My classes have been both challenging and rewarding. Each course has broadened my understanding of anthropology and deepened my appreciation for interdisciplinary studies. One course that stands out to me is 'Imagining the Dutch: Themes in Dutch History', as it was a great way to get a grip on Dutch culture here. But it's not the only one. In my first period I also took 'Confronting Commodity Chains' where I worked with four other students to try to understand the supply chain of the famous Dutch tulip flowers. Here, I was really lucky to get the chance to visit a real tulip farm and wholesaler as part of my fieldwork. It was so interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes at such a large production of flowers. I observed how they plant, harvest, pack and ship hundreds, if not thousands, of flowers each morning so that we the consumers can enjoy them fresh in our vases.

 

But even in period 6, I feel drawn and engaged in my studies. I'm now taking a completely different but still very interesting course called “Religion, Media and Pop Culture” where I' be researching and writing a journalistic article on a phenomenon where religion meets pop culture. I'm hoping to write mine on New Age religions: the Law of Attraction, and I'm excited to see what will come of it.

 

Now, I have to be honest and say that it's very unlike me to keep my educational focus to the bitter end before the summer starts. Maybe it's because of the VU, or maybe it has more to do with unreasonbly poor spring weather this year. If there is no sunshine, there can be no summer in my books! I think my dog Summer is the only one not complaining about the rain and mud we have been getting. Even so, it has been nothing short of amazing to take a multitude of electives that have bridged my existing perspectives and academic knowledge with new fields and methods.

 



Social Life and Connections: Amsterdam has been such a wonderful place to make friends and have fun! There is never a dull moment. Between impromptu cafe hangouts to confronting but exciting museum visits, to trips to Delft and Groningen, I’ve made friends from all over the world. However, now I’m also really sad to see them slowly return home or make our farewells as they interrail through Europe. It’s safe to say that almost everywhere I travel from now on will have a wonderful element of reunion and see you again soons!

 

Exploring Dutch Culture: For me, living here has meant fully embracing Dutch culture. I’ve become quite the cyclist, weaving through the busy streets like a pro. I’ve tried the national treasures like: bitterballen, puffertjes and hagelslag – and loved it! My Dutch is slowly but surely improving too, thanks to my trusty Duolingo streak and good local friends who often let me butcher the Dutch language in the name of learning. As some of you may already know, I have cheated a little bit in this department as I have found a kind and sweet Dutch guy whom I both love and live with. He has been kind enough to share some of his Dutch friends, which has been a real blessing. While some exchange students this year felt it challenging to interact or become close with Dutch locals, I sure found myself a handy little shortcut! 

 



Balancing Act: Balancing school and life can be tricky, but I’ve found a rhythm that works for me. It’s all about staying organised and making sure to take breaks and enjoy the little things. Especially in a new school system, I have needed to adjust time management wise. With three periods and three exam periods, there truly is no time to fall behind, so it's important to make most of your time! The courses will simply end before you are able to catch up. Which felt stressfull for me at times especially when I also wanted to explore and socialise. On top of the exams, most courses will have multiple class assignments that, together with the final exam, make up your grade. This was definitely new to me, but with effective time management, coupled with a supportive network of friends, I have been able to maintain a good school-life balance. And coffee helps a lot too!



 

Looking Ahead: With just a few weeks left until graduation, I’m feeling a mix of excitement and nostalgia. There’s still so much to do and see, and I’m determined to make the most of every moment. This semester marks the end of a student abroad experience, but it also marks the end of my Anthropology Bachelor. I'm really excited about this and I’m incredibly proud of this achievement. I never thought I'd make it this far with my dyslexia. This far as in to university, to my dream degree and even to my dream destination of exchange - with a writing scholarship might I add! It can seem too good to be true but yet here I am, just 4 weeks before it's all my reality. But it is also scary to think of what’s next - maybe a master at VU? Who knows... Luckily, I know one for sure: I might be done with my bachelor's, but I’m not at all done with Amsterdam. This city has become my home, my safe space and my starting point from which I openly look forward to what the world has in store for me next.


Stay tuned for my final blog post, where I’ll wrap up my amazing journey here.

Thanks for following along! See you next time!



 

 

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