Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is a comprehensive research university, ranked amongst the top 100 universities of the world. Since its founding in 1880 interdisciplinary research questions from society have been leading in its education. Throughout the past century, the university has continued to expand. It now comprises eleven faculties and has teaching facilities for 26,000 students.


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Yes, I recommend this program

International lawyer's unforgetable experience

International Criminal Justice course is perfect choice for both laywers specializing in different fields of law and international laywers. I do not only gained theoretical knowlegde but also practical knowledge. Most of the professors were from the Center for International Criminal Justice as well as we had lectures run by judges of International Criminal Court. Course also included study visits to the International Criminal Court and Special Tribunal for Lebanon. These study visits gave us practical knowledge as we had the meetings with the laywers from Prosecution and Defense Office who told their own experiences. What I liked mostly was that our courses were student -centered and full of discussions of different challenges that International Criminal Court and international community faces. I recommend everyone to take this perfect course!

What would you improve about this program?
Everything is perfect. The organization and the quality of our courses are really high.
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Yes, I recommend this program

VU Amsterdam Summer School

I have spent two weeks in Amsterdam, doing "Data Analysis in R" course in VU Amsterdam Summer School.
It has been a great experience, the course has been helpful as I study statistics in Italy.
It has became more and more difficult, but that was really challenging and the teacher was always there to help all students.
The staff have taken us to many beautiful places such as The Hague, Van Ghoog museum and we did the tour boat around the city, it has been amazing and very fun
I have met wonderful people

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Yes, I recommend this program


Wonderful experience. It was a multi national classroom. Working together with different people have a broader impact on me. I would like to join more courses at here. The computer laboratory are very well prepared. The atmosphere at the University is very supportive to intellectual cultivation of ideas. The student organisations are also are very supportive and accomodating . I would highly recommend others to take the opportunity to take part in the study program .

What would you improve about this program?
More material and pace should include other students from diverse background .
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Yes, I recommend this program

VU Summer School - Operations Research

I attended the Operations Research: A Mathematical Way to Optimize your World course during the VU Summer School program. VU is obviously an institution which prides itself on delivering excellence every aspect. This is seen from the quality of the course itself and the knowledgeable lecturers to the well maintained and modern university facilities. The VU Summer School team is also very well organized!

I thoroughly enjoyed making new friends with the other students attending Summer School. It is such a privilege to learn about their countries and cultures. I'm sure I will end up visiting some of them in the future!

Yes, I recommend this program

Decolonising Europe Amsterdam Summer School

I thoroughly enjoyed my two weeks at this summer school - it was very intensive, focus and the staff were really enthusiastic. All of the excursions were interesting and relevant, and I saw a lot of Amsterdam through trips with the course. We even had a canal tour included looking at black heritage in the city. Overall I was very impressed with the organisation of the course and really can't fault anything.

What would you improve about this program?
I wish I'd started doing the readings a lot in advance


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Jessica Pena

Jessica is a graduate student working towards a master's degree in World History. She has previously lived and studied in Japan and wants to work in the field of International Education as a Study Abroad advisor or director of International Programs.

Why did you pick this program?

I am currently an intern at my university's Study Abroad and International Programs Office. Previously I had lived in Asia, but I had never traveled to Europe.

My boss, the assistant director, encouraged me to travel to a new part of the world so that I can grow both professionally and personally. When deciding what program to choose, I chose Amsterdam in the Netherlands because I had heard that it was a beautiful city and that our previous students had loved the program.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

The most important thing I have learned about traveling abroad has been as much about myself as it has been about the world. I am a first generation college student, and my parents have not only never lived in a foreign country, they have never lived out side of New York City.

No one in my family had ever traveled before and I had to do everything on my own. As a result I became more independent, and learned that I have absolutely no limitations. If I set my mind to something, I know I can accomplish it. I also learned that I can overcame any challenge that comes my way. I made a lot of mistakes, but I learned from every single one of them.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

I encourage all of my friends to travel, study or live abroad. I think the best time to travel is when you are still in school. Once you graduate you wont have the same opportunities, and I really believe living abroad is something everyone should do.

I tell everyone that it will change you, how it will change you, however, is different for everyone. Even if it is for a short time it changes you. You grow so much as a person and you can't even imagine it until you have experienced it.

What was the hardest part about going abroad?

The hardest part about going abroad is having to leave your friends and family behind, and start over from the beginning. I knew when I traveled abroad that I wasn't going to be able to go with friends, but if I didn't go alone, I wouldn't have been able to go at all.

It was very hard at first, especially because when I first studied abroad I was shy and had trouble making friends. However, after a couple of weeks I was able to form new relationships, and during my time abroad I have met people from all across the world, and became exposed to new perspectives. The friends I made will stay with me for the rest of my life, and if I would have never met them if I had stayed home.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

This past summer with the Amsterdam Summer School I had the proud record of being the only student to attend every excursion. There was days when this wasn't easy. Half of the excursions were on Wednesday after a long day of class and the other half were very early in the morning on Saturdays. On one trip we had was a long bike ride, over an hour and a half, to a museum inside a national park.

I hadn't rode a bike in a long time and fell behind rather quickly. I eventually came up upon a group of fellow students who were lost. When I asked them if they were with the school, they looked at me and asked "Who are you?" They made sure I got to the museum safely and we ended up becoming great friends.

On another day we went to the Hague during a huge storm. Some students left early, but five of us stayed. I ended up having a blast and making even more great friends. My biggest advice now is to never skip an event and never go home early!

What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions, future path?

Traveling abroad this past summer has completely changed me as a person. Before studying in Amsterdam I was planning on getting a full time job after graduation and was thinking about things such as getting my own apartment or a car.

I really thought my days of traveling the world were behind me and that it was time for me to focus on stability. But after living and traveling in Europe over the summer, my passion for travel has been reignited. I realized that while I am still young I should try to make the most of my life and that means taking advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.

I learned that I being adventurous, meeting new people, and exploring the world around me does not have to only happen when I am abroad, I can make it a part of my every day life no matter where I am. Furthermore, I fell in even deeper love with the field of International Education, and know now more than ever that this is what I want to do with my life.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Sanne Boomsma

Job Title
Amsterdam Summer School Director

What position do you hold at Study Abroad in Amsterdam? What has been your career path so far?

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Sanne: I’ve always wanted to work in study abroad, therefore being the director for the Amsterdam Summer School certainly is a dream job. Right after completing my Master’s degree I started looking for jobs within study abroad, but it took a few years before I got here.

My last job was as a project manager organizing business trips for entrepreneurs to emerging markets. And although it was an exciting job that gave me the opportunity to travel and see the world, I really felt may heart lay with students more than businessmen. It has now been five years that I have been working for VU University Amsterdam, and over a year that I started with the Amsterdam Summer School.

Did YOU study abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Sanne: Yes, and I couldn’t get enough of it! Which is certainly an important reason why I wanted to work in the field. I did a language course and later on also a summer course in Spain. Both triggered my interest for more, therefore I decided to study abroad in the USA for a semester and later on do the research for my Master’s thesis in the Philippines. The more you travel, the more confident you become in going abroad on your own, and the more the world really starts to feel like your playground.

Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?

Sanne: During your college years you will of course learn a lot about your subject matter of choice, but it is also a time in which you really get to know and develop yourself as an individual. Studying abroad in a country with a different culture and language can be like a mirror, it is really enlightening to see how you react in new surroundings, rather than staying in your comfort zone. It may feel a little scary before you go, but it is a wonderful confidence builder that you will cherish for a lifetime.

What was your favorite traveling experience?

woman in new york

Sanne: It is difficult to choose between my study abroad experiences and also other travels. Studying abroad for a semester in the USA gave me the real American college experience, and it was a really fun and enjoyable time.

Doing my research in the Philippines was more of a challenge, because I didn’t have the safety net of a university setting and because the Philippines is in many perspectives far more different from the Netherlands than the USA. But at the same time that is exactly what was so special about it, I was able to see a completely new world and from it get a better understanding of the whole world.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Sanne: All students that return from studying abroad talk about what a great experience it was for them personally, which is a wonderful reminder of why I love this job. But my favourite stories are, I just cannot help it, when students return and tell me they have found the love of their life abroad!