Finals week abroad is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The entire week students in the Netherlands are focused on completing standardized tests and are in testing environments that I can only compare to the testing atmosphere of the ACT in the states. Proctors surrounding students and checking IDs are not the standard for testing in Utah, at least, and have been one of the most significant differences I have observed while studying here. One of my main motivations for visiting the Netherlands was because of the notably progressive and effective academic models they hold, and while immersing myself in it here at the VU, I have come to recognize that in some ways, the academic system is not as intersectional as I believed it to be. Although it has its upsides in motivating students to take charge of their studies, I disagree with the high-stakes testing I was unaware of in this part of the world.
In my studies so far, I have learned that students learn when content is presented in an easily comprehensible manner and when they don’t feel like they are unable to meet certain scores or pass certain exams. My friend Kailee, another exchange student from the states, and I have agreed that the learning environment at the VU is not as conducive to learning for students with disabilities either. This presents concerns for individuals who have learning disabilities or students like myself who suffer from anxiety. Having my entire grade be dependent on my performance on a timed exam one day out of the semester is not fair. I will take this into account when developing my methods of examination as an elementary teacher. I believe it is integral that as an educator I work directly with my students and do everything in my power to help them succeed, not base their success on a single performance.
In preparation for my exams, I spent the entire week working from home taking notes, and rewatching lectures. I study best when I give myself breaks in between so I made sure to take a few trips into the centrum and treat myself to some coffee as I was putting in so much time into my school work so I deserved it. Kailee, Emilee, Rachel, and I all went to a local gelato shop one evening and I picked up a latte there that was incredible, and paired with the holiday lights in Amsterdam Centrum, made me feel like I was experiencing the epitome of autumn. Now that exams are over, I’m looking forward to my new classes in the second period!