Let’s face it; apart from the special curriculum and “unconventionality” of the liberal arts and sciences degree offered at AUC, many of us (including myself) came here to experience what Amsterdam has to offer.
You are in for a big surprise.
Practically, you are living in a place called Science Park. Technically, it is in Amsterdam, but it doesn’t feel like Amsterdam. With its own petite supermarket and “snackwagen” just across AUC, with a fairly decent pub nearby, Science Park has it all. Whether you need to work, sleep, eat or drink, you’ve got everything here in just 500 sq meters. On the other hand, if you feel “adventurous”, you can always check the Turkish shops on Molukkenstraat or explore the mysterious jungle of Flevopark.
Of course, but what exactly is keeping us stuck in Science Park?
In a word: work. Lots of it. If you would like to achieve some sort of performance as a student (and I’m sure you want to), you need to do all your assignments and all your readings. There’s absolutely no mystery in that. The problem is, all this work can barely leave you time to do something else.
Secondly, we are contractually obliged to live in the dorms build by DUWO in Science Park. I know I shouldn’t be touching upon this subject since the rooms are nice and the rent is incredibly small, but it severely impairs the “Amsterdam experience”. I’m pretty sure that beyond the huge financial gaps, actually living in Amsterdam would have a different impact on how a student (a foreigner) would perceive the city.
From what I’ve seen/read so far, Amsterdam has a whole lot more to offer (talking here, of course, beyond the commonly known attractions); crammed along the canals, there is always something else to be discovered just beyond the corner: a cool shop, a nice pub, an affordable restaurant, but as a “Science Park”-er I feel that Amsterdam is hidden from me.
Also, when you “force” different people from all over the world to live in 3 blocks of flats, the effect is not that of cultural interrelationships or exchange, but the exact opposite. What you get is very fragmented groups bound mostly by geography and/or cultural similarities.
That being said, how many times have I seen a person in one of my courses but never before on campus? Even more so: how many people haven’t seen or don’t know me? Even in a place like Science Park, where you inevitably bump into everyone, this proves to be quite a problem.
Returning back to the question of time, when you don’t have it, you simply make it. Sacrificing some coursework for a night out might be the right choice as long as it doesn’t turn against you later on.
Then again, this might be just bad time management.
Either way, I need a break from Science Park, Amsterdam.
To be honest, it is a bit difficult for me to write this post. It is almost as if I am writing my own obituary. Not because, seemingly decades ago, I founded this band; not because, as time went on, I became really close friends with its members; what is frustrating is the acknowledgement of the fact that there are some things or events one cannot control.
My pursuit of an academic degree in another country is one of them.