This May, students enrolled in The University of Tulsa’s Dutch Art Abroad course traveled to Amsterdam to get a first-hand look at art that influences the history and culture of the Dutch capital. For Sara Moore, viewing the famous paintings in their home museums significantly enriched her appreciation and understanding of the artwork.
“The study abroad experience enhanced what I learned in a lot of ways, but particularly in just getting to see the art in person,” she said. “You can look at a high-quality photo of a piece all day, but actually getting to experience it in person is entirely different.”
While viewing iconic paintings such as Rembrandt’s The Night Watch and visiting some of Amsterdam’s historic architectural sites was the academic focus of the trip, the experience of walking along the streets split by Amsterdam’s canal system gave students insight into the design of the city.
“A lot of things about Amsterdam drew me in,” a junior in the School of Art, Design & Art History said. “It has an iconic architectural style that I have always wanted to see, along with all the canals. I was interested to see how that affected the way people live.”
A key theme of the course is exploring how Dutch art and architecture contribute to the forging of personal and national identity. Amsterdam’s oldest building, the Oude Kerk, is in the middle of the historic city center and an excellent representation of the relationship between art and culture. Originally a Roman Catholic church, its interior was destroyed by iconoclasts, stripped of its Catholic imagery, and ultimately converted into a Protestant church in 1578.
A highlight of the trip, which was offered through TU’s Kendall College for Arts & Sciences, for art senior Jordan Beaver was witnessing the incredible convergence of history and architectural design. “My favorite architectural space that we visited was the Oude Kerk, a church from the 14th century,” Beaver said. “The extravagant details and evidence of religious wars invited my thinking into those hundreds of years ago. It was exciting to see many of our works studied in class in person.”
Completing a course on Dutch art by traveling to the Netherlands allowed the students to engage with the art and culture they spent the semester studying from afar. Beaver’s experience in the Netherlands deepened their understanding of the course’s themes and raised their appreciation for the value of learning through travel.
“Being my first time international and on a plane, I believe this trip has encouraged me to visit other countries in the future without fear of what to expect,” said Beaver. “Resources are available for students who may not think they can enroll in a study abroad course, and I would encourage students to use them. Whether going on a year-long trip, semester-long trip, or even a week-long trip, studying abroad will provide you with education you have to experience to truly learn.”
The University of Tulsa offers study abroad opportunities including one semester courses, year-long exchange programs and summer internships in dozens of countries. The Center for Global Engagement guides students through the process of creating a plan that is affordable and sends students to destinations where they can maximize their personal, academic, and professional potential.