This semester I’ve had the privilege of studying abroad in the incredible city that is Amsterdam. Here are ten reasons why you should too.
It’s super easy to travel in and out of.
Not only does studying abroad in Europe allow you to travel to so many different countries with ease, but studying abroad in Amsterdam allows you to get there efficiently. Amsterdam’s central location combined with its phenomenal international airport means you can take direct flights under three hours just about anywhere in Europe.
It’s urban, yet beautiful.
If you enjoy an urban lifestyle yet need some nature in your life too, Amsterdam is the perfect place for you. As a city, it’s not too big or too small. You can bike, take public transportation, or Uber to get wherever you need to go. It has all different types of bars, restaurants, and shopping as well.
At the same time, Amsterdam isn’t simply a concrete jungle. A multitude of canals are intertwined within its urban landscape, and the city also has so many magnificent parks. When the weather is nice, most Amsterdammers can be found sprawling on a picnic blanket with friends – eating, drinking, smoking and and relaxing in nature.
Everyone in Amsterdam bikes as their main form of transportation – whether they are eight or eighty years old. Biking is an excellent way to see the entire city and feel like a true Amsterdammer. It also is an excellent form of exercise that is built into your day. So even if I don’t have time to go to the gym during the day (which is often) I know that I’ll spend at least an hour on my bike getting to and from class and running various errands.
The CIEE program.
The program that Tulane students use to study abroad in Amsterdam is called CIEE. This year in the program there are 30 Tulane students and 120 other American students from different Universities. This means that from the beginning there were plenty of familiar faces but also plenty of new people I could meet. CIEE also links its students with ISN, an international student organization. This organization organizes social events for all of the international students studying in Amsterdam, which helps you meet international friends too. Lastly, the CIEE program offers courses that are interesting yet not too much of a burden academically – allowing you to have more time to spend enjoying Europe.
Although stereotyped for being too blunt, I have found Dutch individuals to be extremely nice and welcoming. Also, unlike other countries in Southern Europe, not once in Amsterdam have I been catcalled when walking down the street. The entire city is very respectful and socially progressive, so if you consider yourself a liberal-minded person you will fit in really well.
The liberal culture also means that Dutch social policies are more tolerant of practices that other countries such as America are adverse to. This means that soft drugs are tolerated, regulated, and sold legally at various coffee shops throughout the city.
Amsterdam is full of options when it comes to having a fun night out. The city is has tons of fun bars and clubs, and there are multiple concert venues that showcase well-known artists for decent prices. Many bars in Amsterdam have big tables outdoors where people sit and do work during the day, or grab a beer with a group of friends till 1 AM. Even in the winter Amsterdammers will sit outside at these bars, but don’t worry, there are heat lamps.
There are also bars that are more lively with dj’s and areas to dance. If you’re more of a club person there are incredible clubs of all different varieties too. Some clubs play rap music, some deep house/techno, some are four floors, or some could be a small room. The best part about the club scene in Amsterdam is that it’s not too hard to get in (you don’t need a promoter and the lines aren’t super long), the cover isn’t too bad, and you don’t need to wear a dress and heels. Everyone in Amsterdam keeps it pretty casual and hipster, so if you do show up to a club in high heels you probably would be the only one.
The price is right.
In general, Amsterdam isn’t too expensive of a place to live. For one, biking saves money on ubers and public transportation. Because it is more common to go to bars in Amsterdam, you also end up saving money when going out because you don’t have to pay club covers or spend money on expensive club drinks. Although Amsterdam may not be as cheap as cities like Lisbon or Prague, compared to cities like Copenhagen and London it’s a bargain.
Markets and festivals.
There are so many different flea markets, food markets, and even flower markets in Amsterdam that are fun to walk around with friends during the day. Also, similar to New Orleans, there are always different festivals happening. A few weeks ago there was an EDM music festival all throughout the city, and in another few weeks there will be a documentary film festival. Again, the city of Amsterdam has so much to do, you’ll never be bored and no weekend is the same.
There are so many great restaurants in Amsterdam with many different types of cuisine. Also, the fresh stroopwafels are insanely delicious, along with the best late night french fries available on just about every corner.
Because it’s just hard not to love.
It’s old and historical, yet urban and beautiful. It’s fun, yet calm. It’s everything you need in a study abroad experience.
The amount of friends that visit Amsterdam for a weekend and think, “DAM, I should’ve studied abroad here,” is too many to count on my fingers. So listen to me (and all of my visitors) and spend the best semester of your life in Amsterdam!
Nicole Kaplan draws inspiration from her semester spent studying in Amsterdam. This recent graduate from Chicago loves laying in Audubon Park, reading a good book, and cooking her famous chicken fajitas.