Day 11: Cruising Through Amsterdam

This morning we visited the Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA) Business Campus. The campus itself had a very different feel to Pitt and even felt different from the VU campus we saw the other day. It’s a very old school, some 400 years old, but the campus has gotten a facelift over the years. Now, there’s a mix of old and new buildings that make up the campus. For example, the main building that houses the economics and social sciences departments is made of glass and very modern architecturally while CREA, the cultural center for the arts, is an original building that used to be an industrial complex. Inside of each of the buildings, there are tons and tons of study spaces because unlike American universities, there isn’t really on campus living and because of the housing crisis in Amsterdam, most people live with several roommates, so they don’t have spaces at home to study. It was interesting to see that such a staple part of the American college experience was non-existent here. Another prominent thing that I find characteristic of American college culture is the prestige battle. Big names like the Ivy League schools have prestigious reputations that make them attractive to applicants and overall more competitive (sometimes in a toxic manner) but here this culture is also non-existent. Students here pretty much choose a university based on what they want to study and the location of the campus.

Speaking of different college campus experiences, the bikes make an appearance once again. Pretty much all students commute to school and by bike in the very Dutch way. Bikes are so prevalent that they even have special bike garages for the students. We definitely don’t have anything like this in America.

mix of new and old

While the campus definitely had a different vibe than VU, something that I’m noticing the schools have in common are their attractive tuition prices. For students within the European Union, tuition is around $2,000 and for international students, it’s around $20,000. This seems like an incredibly good value for the education that they get here because the undergraduate program is three years and the graduate program is an additional year. Not only do their students get to graduate earlier than the typical American college student, but they also can do it without graduating in crippling debt. The trade off is that they have shorter summer vacations (about six weeks), but that seems fair considering the amount of money being saved.

In terms of the curriculum, the Business students take the equivalent of our GenEd classes their first two years and in their third year, they specialize in a particular area, similar to a major. Areas of focus include entrepreneurship management, finance, accounting, and business analytics.

view from the canal cruise

After the campus tour, we went on a canal cruise through the famous Amsterdam canals. We learned that the canals were once going to be filled to be replaced by electric trams, but locals protested and prevented this from happening, so the canals remain a central feature of Amsterdam. It was interesting to see Amsterdam from a different point of view. While on the cruise, we saw the Waterlooplein flea market, which we stopped by after the cruise. 

flea market fun, but not really because they were closing :/

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