From: Copenhagen, Denmark
Destination: Amsterdam (international minor program Social Work in Urban Areas)
Tip: Don’t let fear hold you back! No matter the outcome, it will definitely be a learning experience that you won’t regret.
Why are you here?
Back home I study international and intercultural social work. My university is one of the four collaborators of this program, and each year it moves to a new location, so it is like a rotating minor. Last year it was in Copenhagen, and a few people I know did it and recommended me to go. When I talked to the international coordinator at my school, she happened to be one of the main organizers of the program and she convinced me that I would love it – and she was right.
The program is a collaboration between four universities of applied sciences; Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Gent. But this year we have students from six different countries, so it’s not exclusively for students from the four collaborating universities.
What do you think of the program?
Before coming I also considered other places, but I liked the interdisciplinary part of this minor, and the approach where you have theory combined with fieldwork. We have field trips at least once a week, both organized by the school and by the students.
For instance, we had to look at a neighborhood and see what social problems exist. We also visited the organizations that are present and the interventions that go on in the area. Then we had to come up with our own ideas of how to improve the neighborhood.
What also appealed to me was the creative part of this program. One of the assignments was making a video presentation of a topic. I chose transgenders in Amsterdam. This was also a kind of fieldwork, because we had to examine, take notes and do research in order to make the video.
We also had an exhibition as our midterm, where we had to present a subject in a creative way for the teachers and the other students. My group chose LGBTQIA+, and we made a podcast, a photo exhibition and a short drama performance.
Your view on Amsterdam?
Studying abroad in Amsterdam is such a pleasure. You definitely feel that you are in the Netherlands, but you also feel that you are a part of ‘the world’ because it is a very multicultural city, which is super inspiring for this program. When it comes to social work it’s the perfect place to be, because of the history and the progressive approach to social work. But I am sure that is the case for other disciplines too, because there are so many examples to draw on, in terms of applied sciences.
I just really like it here. In Amsterdam you feel very safe and very well taken care off. There are many services that help you connect to people for instance. Because of Amsterdam’s superdiversity, it has so many cultural influences and different people. There is something for everyone. There are always something going on, and you can always find someone with the same interests as you.
A specific thing that opened my eyes are the many storytelling events, open mics and performances that happen here. It is usually ‘regular’ people who share their stories, information and music. We don’t have that as much in Denmark. Mezrab is a Persian café where they have storytelling nights and other events almost every day of the week, and they serve homemade hot soup made by the owner’s parents.
Another thing is the beauty of Amsterdam. It has been so nice to live in a city that is so put together and well organized. The urban planning is admirable and interesting, with the structure of the city and it’s many bike lanes.
It is not my first time abroad. I was in San Francisco for my internship last year. I have travelled a lot, which is also why I chose to study international social work back home, because eventually I want to work internationally. Where I want to go to changes every time I am introduced to a new subject. Currently my attention is drawn to the Middle East and Africa. And subjects like young girls, sex work and trafficking are super interesting.