Student Testimonials on Berkeley’s Dutch Studies Program
During my time at UC Berkeley I took three Dutch courses with Professor Jeroen Dewulf and Esmée van der Hoeven. Dutch 171AC: From New Amsterdam to New York was my favorite class of Fall 2017. Professor Dewulf truly cares for his students and made the curriculum fun and enticing to learn about. Starting out with this course I became encapsulated in Dutch history and wanted to further my education in this subject. In Spring 2018 I took Dutch 1 and Dutch 100 both with Esmée van der Hoeven. I am incredibly happy that I finished my last semester of college with Esmée because she is great at teaching the Dutch language! I looked forward to attending her classes every day! Both Jeroen and Esmée are wonderful professors that I felt I could ask for help at any moment, and can confidently say they expanded my knowledge beyond measure this school year!
(Sarah Russell-Cheung, B.A in Anthropology, Class of 2018)
The Summer Travel Study course Dutch 177 is by far my most memorable course taken in Berkeley. I not only had the opportunity to fully immerse myself into the course material, but I also had the opportunity to meet amazing friends who made my experience even more unforgettable. Professor Jeroen Dewulf did an amazing job organizing the program to ensure that there was a perfect balance between time spent learning in the classroom and time spent exploring the actual cities we were learning about. I really liked the pace of his lectures and readings. As an economics major who previously never took any courses in Dutch studies, I never felt that the material or assignments were overwhelming. Professor Dewulf is also extremely down-to- earth and caring, and he always ensured that everyone in the program was learning and having a good time. The field trips we took as a class were some of my favorite moments. It felt surreal to physically see the paintings we learned about during our lectures in real-life. Additionally, we also had plenty of time to explore the area we were staying at independently. I was able to make many day trips to nearby cities with my fellow classmates during the weekends. Dutch 177 is a really unique course that cannot be missed!
(Tina Tan, B.A. Economics, Class of 2014)
My journey at UC Berkeley would not be complete without my study abroad experience. The Benelux program, which I participated in during Summer 2016, met all of the expectations that I had before applying to the program (and trust me, my expectations were extremely high). During my time in Europe, I visited three countries and about twenty cities, saw the best that the Benelux countries and the Dutch culture can offer, met new people and made new friends. In terms of self-growth and development, this program provided me with ample opportunities to experience changes and learn to adjust them. There was not a single second when I would get bored during the month-long program. We would have lectures in the morning then go and visit museums, historical sights, and governmental institutions. In addition, during the weekends we were free to explore the cities on our own. I was very fortunate to have the kindest, most caring, and knowledgeable instructors/leaders Esmee van der Hoeven and Aagje who made my travel/study abroad experience fun, smooth, and, most importantly, safe. If I had another semester at Cal, I would definitely take more Dutch classes and learn the language, and that is all because of Aagje’s and Esmee’s contagious enthusiasm towards the Dutch language and culture. If studying in Europe is on your bucket list when in college and you wish to see/learn maximum in a short period of time, you should definitely apply to Benelux program at Cal. It is very likely that by participating to this program you will create the most memorable memories of your life.
(Ani Gemalmazyan, B.A. Psychology, Class of 2016)
Coming into Berkeley as a transfer student, I knew I wanted to take advantage of the wide variety of courses that the school had to offer. I took Dutch 171 AC, From New Amsterdam to New York, with Professor Jeroen Dewulf in the fall of 14’ and quickly fell in the love with the class and the teaching style. The course offers such a unique lens from the dominated narrative you learn during high school that traditionally focuses on the English history in the Americas. Professor Dewulf engaged the entire class presenting the information in a collaborative and intellectually stimulating way that made coming to class a joy. Learning about the Dutch influence had on the development of America was an area of history that I knew nothing about, and led me to take another class with Professor Dewulf, Dutch C178 in the Spring of 16′. Learning about the Dutch influence in the Caribbean and South America not only taught me about the history of the region but how legacy can continue to affect the present. The in-depth investigation tackling every facet of history including: cultural traditions, the economy, the government, and unique literature of the time made the time period come alive and illustrated the passion he has for the subject. The genuine connection Professor Dewulf makes with each student, taking the time to learn every student’s name and their background is something unique and refreshing. The friendship I developed with Professor Dewulf led me to ask him for a letter of recommendation as I currently apply to medical school. Whenever someone asks me what class I enjoyed most at Berkeley, I am quick to respond and recommend the Dutch courses I took. I still hope one day I am able to come back and audit his Dutch class that examines Anne Frank and Dutch literature on the Holocaust.
(Sean Borden, Molecular Cell Biology – Immunology, Class of 2016)
I went on the Benelux summer abroad trip in 2014 and it was truly my most memorable and adventurous experience I had while I was at UC Berkeley. This course provided me with the art and history curriculum I felt like I was missing out on while completing all of my scientific and technical classes. I learned about the rich art history and culture of Dutch culture, visited beautiful cathedrals and museums, and made some lifelong friends. But most importantly I was extremely fortunate to have Professor Jeroen Dewulf guiding us throughout this entire trip. Without Professor Dewulf, this trip would not have been the same, as his expertise and personal knowledge of the area we were traveling through made the experience even more engaging. I would highly recommend this summer abroad course to every student, as I wish I could spend every one of my summer reliving my experience there.
(Jessica Liu, B.A. in Public Health and Psychology, Class of 2015)
Coming into Berkeley as a freshman, I knew that there was one thing I wanted to do before I graduated– study abroad. After spending many nights contemplating which country I should adventure to, I decided to enroll in the Low Countries summer abroad program. This program was culturally enriching and the experience of a lifetime. I was introduced to a beautiful country full of friendly people and a rich and established culture. During this time, I had the opportunity to meet new friends, visit world-renown museums, and explore a wonderful, new land– all under a dedicated instructor, Professor Esmee van der Hoeven. After returning to the United States, my newfound appreciation for Dutch culture led me to sign up for my first Dutch language class at Berkeley with Professor Esmee. The Dutch 1 Language class offered an incredibly fun environment and an intimate classroom setting to encourage optimal language learning. My friendship and familiarity with Esmee even led me to ask her for a recommendation letter to the UCDC program, where I was eventually accepted to! My experience with the Low Countries summer abroad program as well as Dutch 1 has been spectacular. Whenever I am asked about travel or studying abroad, I do not hesitate to immediately recommend a trip to the Netherlands. These courses have ultimately shaped my whole undergraduate experience and have been the most memorable and rewarding part of my life at Berkeley.
(Hannah Choi, Political Science Undergraduate, Class of 2018)
When I was an undergraduate studying Classical Civilizations at Berkeley I had the privilege of taking a course in the Dutch Studies department on Multiculturalism in the Netherlands. I was drawn to this subject because I am the grandson of two Dutch Jewish Holocaust survivors who grew up in Amsterdam, so wanted to learn more about the current political and cultural discourse surrounding concepts of national identity in Dutch society. Given that the Netherlands’ history of religious freedom and tolerance provided a safe haven for Jews from all corners of Europe for many centuries I felt that the course would be a good way to better understand my own heritage while learning about interesting contemporary issues through the lens of literature and politics. Jeroen Dewulf was a fantastic instructor in my course and many others. His passion for the subject is palpable and he is always keen to solicit thoughts and perspectives from his students that relate to their own experiences of events. For anyone interested in these subjects, it will be difficult to find a more engaged or diligent professor!
(Ryan Terribilini, B.A. in Classical Civilizations, Class of 2008)
In my freshman year at Cal I stumbled upon Dutch 177, the travel study course to the Low Countries. What I love the most about the five-week summer program is the immersive cultural experience both inside and outside the classroom: I remember after’s Professor Jeroen Dewulf introductory lecture on the Dutch Golden Age we all visited the Rijksmuseum and marveled at those iconic paintings up close. These engaging lectures and field trips were accompanied by Professor Dewulf’s personal connections to each city we visited. Local experts gave talks on fascinating topics ranging from Flemish medieval art to the Dutch-Indonesian community in the Netherlands. Even now when I look at my journal from that summer I could still vividly remember the illuminating details I learned about on Van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece inside St Bavo’s Cathedral. Throughout the travel study course, Professor Dewulf’s insights into the cultural and social landscape of the Low Countries have truly inspired me to reflect on the cultural heritage of this land and its complex identity beneath the surface of my observation. The summer travel study course has encouraged me to pursue my academic interest in European literatures and cultures. In my senior year I took Professor Dewulf’s Dutch 171AC course on the Dutch history of New York. It adds a new perspective to my understanding of the Dutch multicultural identity with its relevance to the American society. Professor Dewulf is not only an amazing lecturer who makes history, art and literature more accessible for students but also a patient and approachable mentor who genuinely cares about each student’s academic as well as personal growth. The two Dutch Studies courses I took with Professor Dewulf have not only broadened my horizons but also led me to an academic path in the humanities that I am still passionately pursuing today.
(Cecily Cai, B.A. in German and Italian Studies, Class of 2014)
During the Spring of 2007, I took a Dutch Studies course on Multiculturalism. As an Anthropology major, I was always very curious about other cultures and Dutch was definitely a mystery for me. I didn’t expect that it was a beginning of a lifelong love and appreciation for the beautiful country called The Netherlands. Of course, it was all thanks to Professor Jeroen Dewulf! What makes a teacher outstanding was not only their expertise in their chosen field but also their commitment to impart that knowledge to their students. Professor Dewulf made a huge impact on my life again when I had the opportunity to joined his traveling course to The Netherlands and Belgium in 2008. I learned and experienced so much during that short summer and those memories are still some of the best moments of my life. Then, after I came back, I worked with Professor Dewulf’s on his multiculturalism research as an apprentice. I am so thankful for Professor Dewulf’s guidance and genuine interest in helping me grow!
(Khanh Do, M.A. in Anthropology, Class of 2009)
I took Dutch 171AC, From the New Amsterdam to New York, with Professor Jeroen Dewulf during the fall ’16 semester. Although I initially enrolled in the class to simply fulfill my AC requirement, I quickly discovered how much I enjoyed the class; in fact, it became my favorite course of the semester. This course offers a refreshingly unique lens to view the traditional narrative of early American history that I found absolutely fascinating. But the real highlight of this course was, of course, how Professor Dewulf actively engaged with the class to create an incredibly fun and thoughtful environment for student participation and discussion. As a shy person, this class really helped me to gain more confidence to participate in class discussions on a topic that I am fascinated in, largely thanks to Professor Dewulf’s kind and encouraging presence as an instructor. Overall, I would wholeheartedly recommend this course to any student who has a curiosity for history and a desire to learn from an absolutely wonderful professor!
(Cindy Ye, B.A. Molecular/Cell Biology and Integrative Biology, 2016)
When I think back to my time at UC Berkeley, my summer course in Dutch Studies is one of my fondest memories. It is a truly immersive learning experience—a moving timeline of art, history, politics, and culture of the Netherlands and Belgium. Lessons came alive as I walked through each new city, like multicultural Amsterdam, visited the museum of my favorite artist, Van Gogh, and gained perspective on our own political system through studying Belgium’s. These learning experiences extended beyond the daily itinerary, from sampling traditional foods along the way and sharing conversations with locals that served as a real life, real time cross-cultural exchange. As a biology major, this breadth course was a breath of fresh air to expose me to the humanities in a way that felt natural. Led by the dedicated and gifted professor Jeroen Dewulf, this course presents an amazing opportunity abroad to learn about a special part of Europe. Professor Dewulf truly cares about your learning experience– his lectures are stimulating, and he selects excellent speakers and guides that are as passionate as he is about where they are from. Through this course, I’ve made incredible memories that I’ll never forget and lasting friendships with people I would have never seen on campus otherwise because we all lead such different lives.
(Amy Hassenberg, B.A. Biology, 2008)
In the summer of 2014 I participated in Dutch 177, The Amsterdam-Brussels Connection: History, Art and Identity in the heart of Europe organized and directed by Professor Jeroen Dewulf. My interest in this course was driven by my major at UC Berkeley, History of Art, and though I had little knowledge of Dutch and Flemish culture at the time, this program interested me for its focus on the arts and cultures of the Low Countries. Through this course I had the opportunity to visit world-renowned museums and historical and cultural sites and encounter famous works of art firsthand. The latter was an unparalleled experience for me personally, but all these opportunities combined shaped my postgraduate plans and I was inspired to continue my education in the Netherlands. Although these were my interests and reasons for choosing this program, the course ranged in topics from politics, laws, culture and sociology, just to list a few. Not only were these themes diverse but the historical time periods we covered were exemplified in the cities we visited such as the architecture of medieval Bruges, the monuments of WWI torn Ypres, and of course the historically liberal and tolerant city of Amsterdam. The study abroad group I traveled with included students from various majors and backgrounds which allowed me to meet people I normally would never have encountered on campus, some of which became life-long friends. The fond memories I have of the five week course are indebted to such a knowledgeable, friendly and approachable instructor. Professor Dewulf’s enthusiasm for the course material ensured our experience of these countries stretched beyond the classroom. He planned trips and outings to local sites that were not only relevant to the topics we discussed throughout the course, but included some unique events outside of the typical tourist agenda. I highly recommend any student looking to broaden their educational and cultural horizons to consider participating in this inspiring course. Not only do some of the most historical cities in Europe replace the traditional classroom but the knowledge and insight of the professors leading the course are a true asset to anyone looking to expand their academic growth.
(Paulina Capilla, B.A. in History of Art, 2014)
When I signed up for the study abroad summer course Dutch 177 on the art and culture of the Low Countries looking ahead to my final summer at CAL I had no idea what to expect from the program. I knew that it would be an adventure, and that I wanted to explore something very different from my life in Berkeley, and I hoped that the course could open my eyes to new experiences. Without a doubt, the program was everything I could have hoped for and then some! There were FAR too many memorable moments and experiences to list… but some of the highlights included visits to the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gough museum, learning about the International Court of Justice at the Hague, exploring World War I trenches in Ypres and visiting the European Union in Brussels. Throughout our journey we were treated with the utmost class and respect by our hosts to the point where it almost felt like we were thought of as dignitaries because were visiting from UC Berkeley! Jeroen Dewulf was an amazing professor and always went the extra mile for everyone in the program to ensure that people were having a truly unique and special experience. I would highly recommend the program, and fondly look back on that summer as some of most fun and interesting times I’ve had in my life!!!
(Andrew Birnbaum, B.A. Political Science, class of 2008)
Taking Dutch 177: History, Art and Identity in the heart of Europe taught by Prof. Jeroen Dewulf in the summer of 2014 complimented my interests in the history and politics of European integration. Some of the course highlights were visiting The Hague in the Netherlands, touring the European Parliament in Brussels and interviewing the PM of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel. Of all the classes I’ve taken at Cal, Dutch 177 was by far my favorite. Prof. Dewulf is an amazing professor and mentor. He is a polyglot and a respected scholar in Dutch Studies. He made the travel/study course in the Low Countries both intellectually stimulating and culturally enriching experience.
(Oliver Cabana, B.A. Political Science and Social Welfare, 2014)
I took Professor Jeroen Dewulf’s study abroad class in the summer of 2012. We started in the Netherlands and made our way to Luxembourg and end in Belgium. It was an amazing travel abroad program in the summer because Professor Dewulf’s syllabus had a balance of in-class lectures and outside excursions: visiting different museums, churches, many universities, and meeting guest lectures. At the end of the program, I learned about the three low-countries, the politics, cultures, and the people of Benelux. Professor Dewulf is very knowledgeable about Dutch studies and able to captivate and capture our attention during lectures. In addition, he also took time get to know each of his students, answer all our questions, and prepare us for our finals. As a political science major, this class helped me integrate my studies in international affairs and comparative politics.
(Tia Chea, B.A. Political Science, Class of 2012)
In 2015, I signed up for Dutch 177, the travel study course to the Low Countries. Professor Jeroen Dewulf was more than a kind and insightful instructor – he became a real friend to everyone in our class. The program’s traveling structure helped me fall in love and better understand a region of the world I knew little about before our course began. The whirlwind tour around Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands helped me become a savvy traveler and forced good friendship upon me in the best way. Four years later, this Political Science major is still confident that I wouldn’t trade my experience in Dutch Studies with Professor Dewulf for any other study abroad program.
(Spencer Bowen, B.A. in Political Science, class of 2015)
I signed up for the Benelux Summer abroad program after spending many hours researching the many different summer abroad programs available. None of the other programs peaked my interest as much as Benelux did back in 2016. The opportunity to explore three countries that are so important–yet hidden–from our history textbooks was something that I could not forgo. As a third year statistics major at UC Berkeley there was not very much room in my schedule to take humanities courses. I decided that I would spend my summer exploring The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg by completely immersing myself in Dutch culture, food, tradition, and history. We traveled to countless museums throughout about 20 cities throughout the three countries. The program also allowed for the group to plan their own adventures: we took a trip to Zandvoort Beach in the Netherlands and to Trier, Germany on our days off. I saw some of the most beautiful cities, monuments, artwork all while learning the history and significance of each one of them respectively. The experiences I had and the friends I made will stay with me for a lifetime and the unique moments of exploration are ones I will cherish forever. The instructors for the course, Esmee and Aagje, were an absolute joy to be around. Their intelligence and passion for the subject matter immediately inspired me to branch out of my STEM major mindset to enjoy to the beauty of taking a humanities course. If you’re looking to explore some of the most beautiful and historic cities in Europe the Benelux program is an undeniably amazing choice.
(Jason Abdelmesieh, B.A. in Statistics, Class of 2017)
As a junior Latin American Studies I had the incredible fortune of taking a course cross- listed in the Dutch Studies Department entitled “Dutch C17: The Dutch-Speaking Caribbean: Hybridity, Race and Identity in the Antilles and Suriname.” I originally took the class because I had never had a chance to study the Caribbean in depth, much less the Dutch Caribbean, and the course fulfilled a breadth requirement in my major. This course quickly went from “something fun and interesting” to “one of the best courses I have taken at Berkeley.” Professor Jeroen Dewulf guided us through not only the incredibly rich and complex history of race in the diverse communities of the Dutch Caribbean but also into the present-day implications of the region’s colonial past. Entering the course, I could not have thought of a more obscure topic than race relations in the Dutch Caribbean. It seemed irrelevant not only to my major but to global history and politics. In this respect, I could not have been more mistaken. This course opened my eyes and provided me with a context to the concept of race from its inception into the present day, using the Dutch Caribbean as a test case for how the concept of race is further complicated by notions of faith, indigeneity, class, and nationality. Over the past two years after taking this course, ideas and concepts I learned as a student of Professor Dewulf have come up time and time again in conversations with other professors regarding vastly different subject matter. In short, this course opened my eyes to the Dutch Caribbean in ways that broadened my horizon not only in my field but also as a citizen of a country with a very complicated and fraught racial history of its own.
(Dylan Bush, B.A. in Global Studies, 2016)
I was an English major at Berkeley and took Dutch C178 on the Dutch-speaking Caribbean with Professor Jeroen Dewulf. The course itself was excellently organized, with classes never feeling like they were rushed or too slow. Professor Dewulf’s lecturing was not only eloquent, but also very engaging. I especially appreciated how he was able to successfully foster in-class discussions despite the large class size, which undoubtedly added to the overall learning experience for me. In addition, the class materials were designed to be interesting, but not overwhelming; Professor Dewulf is the rare teacher at Berkeley who understood the other obligations and time commitments students had outside of his class. Dutch C178 was without a doubt one of the best courses I took during my undergraduate years, and I encourage anyone who has even the slightest interest in the subject matter to experience the class.
(Jack Chai, B.A. in English, 2016)
Studying Dutch opens the door, not only to the language and history of a small country, but to everywhere the Dutch have traveled and touched. As deeply rooted players in the global marketplace, the Dutch have made an impression on almost every continent. The small and accessible Dutch Studies Program at UC Berkeley welcomed me as a transfer student and supported me with both academics and community. I ended up with a major in Dutch Studies, an honors thesis, and research that I love on the seventeenth-century colony of New Netherland.
(Julie van den Hout, B.A. Dutch Studies, Class of 2015)
During my time at Berkeley, Professor Jeroen Dewulf stands out to me as the most outstanding professor I had. I took his course Dutch 166: Anne Frank and After, on the Holocaust in the Netherlands. Through engaging discussion and enlightening material, I was joyous to attend class, and learn from it. I took a lot of courses at Berkeley, I’ve seen a lot of different ways of teaching, and a lot of material…. to me, these courses (taught by Professor Dewulf) struck the perfect balance of an intimate class and a professor who truly knows how to get the class involved and excited to participate and contribute.
(Ori Herschmann, B.A. Political Economy, 2015)
In 2014, I took the travel study course to the Low Countries with Professor Jeroen Dewulf. The course provides a perfect mix of lectures and readings to learn about the history and culture of the Benelux region with the field trips to solidify and contextualize that knowledge. Every day came with an engaging new topic or activity, and there was enough leftover time, including weekends, to further explore the cities where we were based. The classwork helped encourage reflection on the day’s learning, and was flexible enough to never be repetitive or tedious. Professor Dewulf was always friendly and approachable, and made sure everyone got the most out of the class. Overall, it was one of the highlights of my time at UC Berkeley”
(Alexander Cyr, M.A. in Economics, Class of 2015)
I had always been a little curious to study Dutch. It interested me both because I hold some Dutch ancestry and because of the outsize influence the Dutch people have had on American culture, business, and technology. It wasn’t until the sixth year of my Ph.D. studies in chemistry, when I began applying to postdoctoral positions, that I finally got the opportunity. The Netherlands happens to have a thriving scientific community, and though knowledge of Dutch is by no means a prerequisite for working there, I wanted to learn the language of my host country in order to show respect. I took two semesters of Elementary Dutch and had a great time. It is a unique experience, in the truest since of the word– few U.S. universities offer any Dutch courses, and none has a program of the caliber of UC Berkeley. Class sizes were small, so there were plenty of opportunities for practicing pronunciation and no reason not to interrupt for clarification whenever I didn’t understand something. The Dutch community is friendly and close-knit, and they’re always excited to meet buitenlanders working on their speaking-skills. I learned a lot and had a lot of fun taking Dutch at Cal, and I’d recommend it to any student here considering a new language.
(Samuel Leachman, Graduate student in Chemistry, 2015)
As a student majoring in Political Science, I greatly enjoyed taking Anne Frank and After with Professor Jeroen Dewulf in my freshman year. The course provided me with the opportunity to analyze World War II from a literary lens, offering a perspective that was different from that of political theory and focusing on the impacts of war at an individual level. Professor Dewulf carefully chose readings that departed from a simplistic understanding of wars, one that distinctly divides people into good or bad and ally or enemy. Rather, he provided a multidimensional insight into both the visible physical conflicts and the internal moral conflicts experienced by perpetrators and victims of the war, encouraging students to ask questions about human nature in conflict. His class allowed me to deeply explore a time period I was passionate about and to cultivate a more nuanced grasp of a turning point in history that defined much of the human rights and international law that is discussed in the political science field today.
(Miu Kumakura, Political Science undergraduate, 2017)
It took studying abroad in the Netherlands to even realize it where it was on a map, but what I found when I went there was really special. I discovered a small, hidden gem tucked away between Germany and Belgium containing a the most refreshingly practical, open-minded, “gezellig” people and their charming, rich culture. I took beginning Dutch in the semester immediately following my semester abroad in the Netherlands as a way to keep in contact with a people and culture that I fell in love with. I was met with a fantastic instructor who was from the Netherlands herself and a rewarding class that I looked forward to attending every week. The class sizes were small and the class dynamic was fun and enriching. The course itself was not extremely demanding but I rarely left a class without laughing or feeling like my language level improved–and everyone else in the class felt the same way. Even though I majored in biochemistry, my Dutch classes were the classes I enjoyed the most. Whether you’ve been to the Netherlands or not, taking Dutch will not be a decision that you’ll regret.
(Renee Salz, B.A. Molecular and Cell Biology, Class of 2016)
I have taken several classes in the Dutch Studies department and three of those were with Professor Jeroen Dewulf. He was an exceptional educator who’s keen interest in the topic shone through to his students. He made every nuanced detail fascinating and brought history together with contemporary topics. He was also accessible to his students during the class and after hours encouraging them on their educational journeys. I learned something new each time in his class.
(Sophie Souroujon, worked as the assistant to four consecutive UC Berkeley chancellors and audited several Dutch Studies classes)