Student experiences

Meet our alumni

Meet our alumni

Paula Blanco

Age: 22
From: Madrid, Spain
Participated in: Neurodegenerative Diseases: From Clinic to Bench
Current study: Psychology

Different backgrounds
The students in my class had different backgrounds, some studied Neuroscience, some Psychology, others Biology or Medicine. This mix made the classes extra interesting, everyone had something to add from their own perspective. The classes were interactive and hands on, I felt that I learned a lot in a short period of time.

Fairy tale
Living in Amsterdam is like being on an endless vacation. The city center with it's canals is so charming that you feel you are walking in a fairy tale. One of my best memories is biking through the Vondelpark, an experience I will never forget.

Lab time
I really enjoyed the time we spend in the lab, it gave me a better idea of what a profession in this area would look like. The best part of the course were our teachers! Always helpful and in for a joke. Overall the summer school gave me a lot of new inspiration, it was awesome to live in a new city, studying what I love.

Mher Baghinyan

Age: 23
From: Yerevan, Armenia
Participated in: Big Data in Society
Current study: PhD research in the field of ‘Game theory applications’

New friends
I made a lot of new friends from the classmates of my course. I will never forget the time we spend together hanging out in the city and having interesting discussions. The interaction with people from different cultures and environments made the summer school very special to me.

Interactive discussions
Although days in class were very busy, I regret that it’s over now. I miss the lecturers that were our friends and not only teachers. The structure of the lectures was well organized. In the morning we mostly studied theory and listened to lectures, whilst after lunch we participated in workshops and interactive discussions. This approach made me entirely understand the material.

The Student Hotel
I didn’t expect The Student Hotel to be such a creative and fun place to live in. Everything was very clean and tidy and the staff was friendly. The location is great for a summer school student: far enough from the noisy city center to study quietly. On the other hand with a great public transport connection, so I could easily enjoy all the city has to offer in my free time.

Sana Chakroun

Age: 29
From: Sfax, Tunisia
Participated in: Doing Research with Discourse Analysis: A Discourse Perspective on Making Sense of Social Change (in collaboration with Lancaster University)
Current study: finalizing my PhD in Marburg, Germany

Melting pot
With 24 different nationalities my course was like a melting pot. I enjoyed every minute of the discussions I had with my classmates in relation to the course as well as other topics. I can advise future students to be open and to be willing to integrate in the group. It is a great chance to meet new people and to learn about other cultures.

City to return to
Amsterdam is a great city, it made me feel even more motivated to apply for this course. Having visited Amsterdam before, I felt comfortable to be there. However I learned a lot of new things and discovered new areas. I realized there will always be interesting things to see, even on a second or third visit.

Insightful ideas
I chose the course because I am very interested in discourse analysis and because it is part of my PhD project. I was amazed by the professors that were listed to teach us. I had the opportunity to talk with them and discuss my PhD project, this gave me insightful ideas about how to pursue my thesis. 

Salina Benitez

Age: 22
From: New York, United States
Participated in: Big Data in Society and Discover (the) Dutch: Language and Culture
Current study: Advertising and Public Relations

As a Marketing major the Big Data in Society course was outside of the box for me, in regards to my interests and previous studies. It was a challenge and very intense to learn so much new material in two weeks’ time. But in the end it felt so rewarding and eye opening. 

City trips
The course Discover (the) Dutch: Language and Culture was a good combination with my first course. During these two weeks I found myself having more time outside of the classroom, to explore, socialize and make the most of my time in the Netherlands. The country is small and has a great public transport system, which makes it easy to hop to different cities. The geographic location is also convenient to take a weekend trip to a neighboring country such as Belgium. 

Love for biking
You can’t live in Amsterdam without biking. Being in Amsterdam I restored my love for biking. I forgot how much I enjoyed it as a child. However I would advise future students to brush up on some basic biking courtesies beforehand!

Khadejah Latrice Ray

Age: 20 years
From: California, United States
Participated in: Decolonizing Europe: History, Ideas & Praxis (in collaboration with Brown University)
Current study: Sociology and African American Studies

University housing
The university housing was absolutely amazing! I enjoyed having my own room, bathroom and balcony. The view of Amsterdam from my balcony was beautiful, it made me feel really spoilt. 

The Amsterdam Summer School was very useful. I was able to better understand social justice on a global scale. For the most part my class was very diverse, with fellow students from all over the world. The course inspired me to further conduct research about the African Diaspora and the Black Experience on a global level. 

Advice forfuture students
To future students I would like to say: have fun and work hard. Learning takes place both inside and outside of the classroom. I enjoyed exploring the city of Amsterdam. Going to museums, taking boat tours and walking past the canals.

Naim Rochmawati

Age: 39
From: Sidoarjo, Indonesia
Partcipated in: Big Data in Society
Current profession: teacher in Technology

Halal food
I was very happy to have a kitchen during my stay. As a Muslim, it is important that I can cook by myself to make sure the food is Halal. During my time in Amsterdam it was Ramadan, this was sometimes hard as the days were long during this time of the year.

First time in Europe
It was the first time I visited Europe, so the summer school was a special experience for me! I explored Amsterdam and Utrecht, especially the buildings I found very exciting. Very different to what I am used to. 

Helpful teachers
Although my English isn’t perfect, the teachers made sure I could understand the classes. They were very helpful if I had trouble following the instructions. The course will contribute to my classes in Indonesia. There are many interesting topics related to big data.

Jacob Osborne

Age: 22 years
From: Pennsylvania, United States
Participated in: Global Health
Current study: Anthropology 

I can’t say enough about my classmates, especially those in my own course. We were a diverse and dynamic group who came from all parts of the world with varying ages, levels of education, and personalities. Each one of our unique perspectives was invaluable, especially in Global Health, in which many times actors from across the world are also sitting at the same table to discuss global problems and solutions. 

Cool vibe
I was attracted to the variety of courses that VU Amsterdam was offering and the idea of spending time in Amsterdam was really exciting to me. The city was a great place to settle into, even for the brief two weeks that I was there. It’s a fun and historical place with a really cool vibe. The Dutch are famously open and tolerant, along with being great English-speakers.

Future career
I know I’ll be able to apply what I learned to future courses or research. I also came away with the reassurance that a career in global health may be right for me and that I will definitely make future visits to Amsterdam!

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