So I entered into a semester study abroad period with Central College thinking, "ok get my French mastered, experience some culture along the way and I'll be happy". What ended up happening was that I stayed a full year (I just couldn't leave yet)and had one of the best experiences of my life.
Classes were hard work, but the prepping at the Institut Tourraine was unbelievably amazing. The professors were prepared for international students and tought in ways that made sure we retained information and were really learning. In the first month I lived with a family in Tours which really helped me break out of my shell and try new things. By the time we all moved to Paris I was ready for a challenge.
At the Institut Catholique I was able to take classes with students from all over the world, young and old, and with a range of positions in life. The professors at Catholique were difficult, but most were very fun. Classes I took there have helped me carry on through my undergraduate and now my Global MBA. But its not all in the classroom. I went out and met friends, and attended language exchanges outside of the program. This gave me the chance to network and meet tons of people that I have had the fortune to stay fairly close with since my return.
I would suggest that if you have any passion for the French culture, language, scenery, or anything that you take up this program and run with it. The director is fantastic and fun, but at the end of the day a study abroad is really what you make of it. Go out there and enjoy every single day cause trust me it goes by way too fast!
I participated in the summer graphic design program in 2009. It was an amazing experience. I had gone in with a lot of experience, but still left with a lot of new techniques and skills. The day trips all around the Netherlands were very educational and a lot of fun too. The teachers were very knowledgeable and Steef helped out with all the tours and anything you could need. It is a really safe town and was such a great experience. Highly reccommended.
I loved everything about Holland as a country. It was eye opening and exciting to live in a new country with a unique culture.
One of my favorite parts of Central's program in Leiden is the fact that they require the students to take a Dutch language class. It's a challenging language, but I think it helped all of us appreciate the culture that much more.
I enjoyed the internship I had in Holland, at a Dutch non-profit educational group called NUFFIC, in their communications department. It was particularly interesting because I helped organize and execute Nuffic's Holland Alumni Conference, so I had the opportunity to meet alumni of Dutch universities from all over the world.
I have only two negative comments about my time in Holland: the first is that the process of getting the internship took much longer than I anticipated, especially since we had filled out paperwork regarding the types of internships were were interested in. It was several weeks, and even months before some students started their internships.
The second negative comment is in regards to the required discussion based course about Holland. I felt that there was very little instruction given in regards to papers and certain assignments.
The Netherlands is a fantastic country, I love it, and would recommend everyone visit if given the chance. However, the program director and the assistant director leave much to be desired. They are both clearly sexistly biased when it comes to classes and grading. Their methods of grading are completely arbitrary and influenced by their personal issues. The assistant director has been clearly biased against the female students. He has been rude to two particular students with higher education than himself--clearly feeling threatened. The male students receive good grades whether they did the work for those grades and are allowed extra privileges that no female student has received. We have, on several occasions, been abandoned in unknown areas by the directors. Most of these times it was not a problem because it was in the Netherlands and we could find our own way; however, it is completely irresponsible to abandon your students on an excursion in another country when they don't know where to go. Besides the incompetence of the directors, they have not given proper compensation for the required trips that we paid for before coming to the Netherlands. This program has many hidden fees that we were not made aware of until they were demanding money from us. Many of these charges should have been taken care of in the program fees that were paid beforehand. These hidden costs amount to hundreds of dollars extra after getting to the Netherlands. Overall, the program is in desperate need of an overhaul. I would recommend studying in a different country and visiting the Netherlands.
- I was not informed about hidden fees for this program. (such as the Residency Permit, travel costs, meal costs during required trips, Belgium trip)
- Housing conditions were not optimal, and I found that I wasn't getting my money's worth. The cleaning staff just decides to not clean if they don't want to. On many occasions I had to clean the kitchen just to eat in a clean space.
- On a good note, Leiden is a beautiful city and the Netherlands is a great country to study abroad in. It is easy to travel around Europe and things are pretty relaxed in the Netherlands.
During the program you wil incur many costs that were not previously brought to your attention, such as meals for excursions that are advertised as covered, a 600 euro visa, a 50 euro housing deposit, and books that the program should offer but requires each new batch of students to pay for. In addition to money issues, the internship opportunities available only offer minimal clerical work at local universities and offer no subsistance. Courses offered are few and the program disregards the schedule of affiliate universities that is also advertises students can add a course. Finally, the courses provided by the program itself are insignificant in their nature, lack professional teaching styles, the grading systems are arbitrary at best and the professors are typically unprofessional, sexist, and grade students more on likability and personality than aptitude.
I loved the program as I gained some life long friends and an experience that you can only get once in a lifetime, but there were some bumps that people should be aware of. This program is a lot more expensive then what they advertise. We didn't get all of our mandatory trips completely paid for like we were told they would be. For instance when we went to Belgium we had to pay for three meals that were supposed to be included in the program fee. Don't let this discourage you. The Netherlands is a great place to study in because it is so easy to travel from and the classes were interesting.
The Netherlands are a great place to live and stay in. The Dutch are very blunt and to the point so if that is not your forte you may want to choose a different country. However, they do have really good cheese and the city of Gouda is a place I am really glad I visited. The directors were helpful in some areas, but extremely unhelpful in others such as dealing with students and health issues. If you have a health concern like allergies or asthma, you may want to contact them before hand to try and see if they will work with you. It was very difficult to stress the importance of avoiding contact with my allergens and I was really sick for my last six weeks in the Netherlands. Even though, I still enjoyed my time abroad and found it to be life changing to live in a different country.
Why did you decide to study abroad with CCA in the Netherlands?
Hannah: When I started as a student at Central I really didn't think a whole lot about studying abroad, but the school really encourages its students to go abroad as part of the college experience. It was hard not to catch the "travel abroad" bug listening to my friends and fellow students share their experiences.
I chose the Netherlands because it's not the most popular program at Central, and I wanted to go somewhere off the beaten path. I was also already done with my major/minor so I wanted to choose a program that had a focus outside of my main course of study.
Many of the classes offered through the program are arts classes, which was a nice change of pace for me. I felt like the Netherlands was also appealing to me because the culture is not so different from the US that I would be incomplete culture shock but it was still a new culture that would allow me to see and experience new things--plus I thought it would be interesting to take a Dutch language class!
What made your study abroad experience unique and special?
Hannah: Of course it's amazing to be living in another country, traveling around Europe, experiencing new cultures, meeting new people, seeing famous landmarks and works of art.
In regards to the Netherlands program specifically, I loved that the program requires a Dutch language class.
Most people in the Netherlands speak English fluently, but learning even a little bit of the language gave us a deeper appreciation for the culture.
I also loved that we lived in an actual student housing facility with other students from all over the world and the town we lived in, Leiden, is a university town, so it was easy to feel at home. It was also so easy to travel around the country, we had lots of opportunities to see new cities/towns and spent some time in the country as well.
The pace of life in the Netherlands was so much more laid back than in the US, they know how to enjoy themselves and just relax, which was so refreshing.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Hannah: Studying abroad is such a learning experience, inside and outside the classroom. I broadened my horizons by studying the language and taking classes outside my normal course of study, and interning at a Dutch non-profit organization gave me real life work experience that's invaluable to any college student about to graduate and enter the workforce.. But studying abroad also taught me self dependence.
Yes, we had a program director who was always there if we needed anything, but so much of being abroad is about being independent and making your own decisions--about taking that step out the door even when you don't quite know what's out there.
I fell in love with a country I originally knew very little about and now am determined to make travel a part of my future and hopefully my career.
About Central College Abroad (CCA)
Established in 1965, Central College Abroad is a nationally recognized study abroad provider attracting students from across the United States. Colleges and universities choose Central College Abroad to offer rich global opportunities for their students. International educators tell us that Central College's programs provide their students stronger...