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  • Writer's pictureStudent blogger

Studying Law and International Relations for a Semester in Amsterdam

Exploring a new life in such an international city, broadening professional horizons and the goals he hopes to achieve this semester are key themes as Yahya El Alami, our Semester in Amsterdam scholarship winner, shares his experiences of studying abroad for a Semester in Amsterdam.

To briefly introduce myself, my name is Yahya El Alami, I am 25, and I am from Morocco. I am currently enrolling in a master’s degree in the Arts of International Studies and Diplomacy at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane (Morocco) and this semester in VU would probably be the last before I go back to my home country to complete my master’s thesis. I have two bachelor’s degrees one in IT: Web and Mobile Programming and the other one in Cultural and Media Studies. Besides, I am an ambitious graduate student who always looks to learn new skills and knowledge, and at the same time, develop old ones. Concerning my hobbies, I love reading books, learning new languages, volunteering, travelling, discovering new cultures, and making new connections and friendships within my home country and also around the globe, and I think there is no better place to do that than at VU Amsterdam.

The first few weeks in Amsterdam

My first few weeks were remarkable and even marvellous. From the first steps that I walked outside Schiphol Airport, I was so fascinated and even culturally shocked by how much this city is harmonious. Throughout the drive I had from the airport toward Hotel Jansen where I currently live, I was shocked about the fact that, within the city, there are roads in which cars, buses, trams, bikes, and all the other means of city transportation go in a very smooth way sometimes even within the same roads or in some intersections without road lights, and the thing is they are all going in a very harmonious and coexistent way with no difficulties. Then, in the few days after that, I started to notice that this harmonious system is not only applied to city transportation but to every aspect of the Dutch culture, or at least based on what I have witnessed, in Amsterdam and Delft. They have such a sense of diversity and at the same time a great sense of acceptance, tolerance, and coexistence among different cultures, religions, and beliefs. Furthermore, Amsterdam seems to be an international nexus in which you can find people from all around the world (e.g., Europeans, Americans, Africans, Asians, Australians, etc.) and almost everyone speaks English and even Dutch people are not bothered, even a bit, by that.

The reasons behind choosing to study in the Netherlands and more specifically at VU Amsterdam are—in addition to the fact that I love travelling, discovering new cultures, meeting new people, building friendships, and overcoming challenges to better improve myself— VU Faculty of Law offers very interesting and at the same time intriguing courses for students in the field of International Relations that really fit with the contemporary issues our world is facing. Also, when I googled VU, besides being fascinated by the architecture and the facilities, I found that VU is one of the top 25 in Europe and the top 100 worldwide, thus, I have become more motivated to study at VU. Then, when I looked for vlogs about the Dutch lifestyle and the Netherlands in general, I started to become more interested to discover about it more and even living some of it such as having a bike as a means of transportation which is right now the case. And, actually, I am starting not only to get used to biking, but I am starting to really appreciate the rides while listening to my favourite songs and I also like the physical health benefits of biking almost every day. Furthermore, I was curious about the lifestyle of the Royal family of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and I eagerly wanted to know the similarities and differences that might have with the Moroccan or the British ones.

Overnight introduction trip to Delft

Thanks to the overnight trip organized by the Semester in Amsterdam Team to Delft, we had the chance to meet, a knowledgeable guide, a wonderful lady that enlightened us not only about the Medieval history of Delft but also about the Monarchy in the Netherlands, namely, The House of Orange-Nassau and their deeply rooted relationship with the city of Delft as they still bury all the members of their royal family in the church situated in the heart center of the Delft. Moreover, this lady also invited and triggered us with her intriguing information to learn more about Dutch culture in general and the differences between the Netherlands and Holland. All in all, this overnight trip was an amusing and at the same time informative one that I would never ever forget.

Delft market square and church tower
Delft market square and church tower

Concerning my expectations, I would love to enlarge my professional network and also build some new friendships. Right now, I really like the hotel where I am living Hotel Jansen, and I am starting to know some people there and get used to the lifestyle there. However, when I went to Campus Uilenstede, I like the atmosphere there, and I sincerely wished that I had the chance to live there not only because the housing is much cheaper than the hotel where I am living, but because of the student life experience and the family spirit they have there. Meanwhile, I am wholeheartedly grateful for all that is happening with my life, and I guess I might build some strong friendships where I am living as well, I am not in a rush, but this if God wills, will come.

Other than that, I would love to attend some international conferences about one of the topics that revolve around the field of international studies and Diplomacy. I want also to visit well-known international headquarters such as the Headquarters of International Court Of Justice in The Hague, the European Union Parliament, and other international organizations’ headquarters. At the same time, I would love to visit other countries in the European Union, and if possible, to make a tour around Europe to discover them, their cultures, and their politics as well since it is part of developing my knowledge in the International Relations sphere. Concerning academic expectations, I am truly motivated and determined to do my best in order to learn as much as possible from the courses I take and to work as smart and hard as I can to successfully pass all the courses I take.


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