Academia’s (Ab)Normal: Reconciling the Minority’s Double Consciousness in the Institution

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(Cover: http://www.amsterdamunited.org/project/itooamuva/)

By Nina Mesfin

Introduction

“The training of the schools we need today more than ever,–the training of deft hands, quick eyes and ears, and above all the broader, deeper, higher culture of gifted minds and pure hearts.” – W.E.B. Du Bois, “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” (2007: 5)

Before I arrived at university, I did not know that you could make a career out of academia. I expected to waltz in, study hard for four years, then waltz out again. I was completely unprepared for the world I would soon find. Despite my immersion in a hyper academic environment, pursuing a career in academia seemed intangible for me: a woman of color. This stemmed from the fact that professors who looked like me were few and far in between. Although many treat university as the great equalizer, a space where all of one’s past struggles and experiences cease to matter the moment one steps foot onto campus, academic institutions exacerbate differences in lived experiences. For the first time, I became acutely aware of my intersectional identity and acquired the tools necessary to articulate what I had only ever been able to describe as fleeting feelings. Continue reading

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When the Day Turns to Night: The Use of Alcohol in Friendship Formation among International Students in the ISN Introduction Week

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By Serge Savin

Introduction

The International Student Organization Amsterdam, an organization financed by the  University of Amsterdam and Hogeschool van Amsterdam, arranges the Introduction Week which is an offer for international students when arriving in Amsterdam. On their website the week is described as follows: “Four intensive days will lay the foundation for your entire stay. You will make friends, visit exciting parties and you’ll get to know Amsterdam and its universities.” (ISN) Continue reading

Activism and apathy in Amsterdam: The case of the Spinhuis occupation

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By Liselot Kattemölle

Introduction

While studying in Madrid during the spring semester of 2014, I became increasingly interested in radical student activism. I was stunned by the high visibility of student protest within and outside university grounds; from anarchist slogans spray-painted on walls and communist symbols carved into tables, to massive study strikes promoting student participation and political awareness. This vibrant and prominent form of protesting against the university system was completely new to me. In Amsterdam, my university hometown, I thought there was no such thing as radically resisting and challenging the university’s operating principles. Although student activism in The Netherlands has been on the rise since the government announced reforms in higher education in 2011, it generally remains within the bounds of institutionalized forms of student participation, established by the university itself. There are student representatives in the university board, and student unions have organized demonstrations against the proposed reforms, which were attended by thousands. Yet, these protests have been sporadic and political engagement remains fairly invisible. When I returned to Amsterdam, though, this seemed to have changed. Continue reading

A life without Ritalin – ‘It’s just not possible in this society’: Dutch students’ attitudes towards prescription stimulants use, abuse and misuse

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By Marte Ydema

Ritalin is a prescription stimulant drug developed for treating attention disorders like ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), but it is increasingly used by students for studying purposes. Its effects are highly similar to the effects of cocaine and amphetamines (White, Becker-Blease & Grace-Bishop, 2006). I became interested in Ritalin instantly when I experienced the effects of the drug myself. One night I was studying with someone I know well, who had been taking Ritalin without prescription. When he offered me to try Ritalin as well I first refused the offer, but I became curious about the effects and tried it after all. I was startled by the effectiveness of the drug, which made me extremely focused and kept me studying for 6 or more hours straight. I felt trapped in a tunnel vision; without being distracted by hunger, thirst, physical inconveniences or other distractions I wanted to keep reading and studying. I felt I had to know every detail in the text. Dull information about the personal lives of classical sociologists suddenly seemed super-interesting and fascinating to me. Continue reading

How to make friends while abroad

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By Alicia

Hello, my name is Alicia – an introduction

They say that studying abroad is the best time of your life. You take a huge step out of your comfort zone and immerse yourself in a new culture, and subsequently you become more knowledgeable about the world. Maybe you even pick up a new language. You learn things about yourself that you never knew before, and you make everlasting friendships spanning the globe. Studying abroad is life changing. As much as I would like to roll my eyes at all of these clichés, I do feel there is some validity to these statements—but before I get ahead of myself, I would like to address the last cliché: you make everlasting friendships spanning the globe. Going into my study abroad experience, I definitely believed I would. Continue reading