Olivia Jacobs - Hamilton College


My Fall 2018 semester has been nothing short of awesome. As a junior at Hamilton College, I elected to take my coursework in the beautiful city of Amsterdam, Netherlands this semester through a study abroad program called IES. I took a course called Conflict Studies at the University of Amsterdam, which gave me an introductory glimpse into world politics, a topic I previously had little knowledge of. My other three classes, Gender Studies, Dialogues on Difference, and Dutch Language and Culture, were situated in the Dutch context, allowing me to analyze racism, homonationalism, and Islamophobia outside of the United States. My identity as an activist and white ally only grew as I attended protests and shattered preconceptions I had of the Netherlands being a liberal utopia.

Outside of my studies, I cared for three French-Dutch sisters aged 4, 8, and 11 twice a week. I rode the ‘bakfiets’ while taking care of them, which is essentially a bicycle with a huge basket in front to transport the littlest one. Cycling is the main form of transportation in Amsterdam and I quickly learned there is a real skill to biking home in heavy rain while carrying grocery bags and maneuvering past mopeds and oblivious pedestrians! Some weekends I spent traveling to nearby countries, but many times I stayed in Amsterdam exploring all the city had to offer while developing lasting friendships with other students in my program. This semester would not have been possible without the financial support of MVYouth, as it is a real privilege to experience life in another country while continuing my studies. I feel full of gratitude for MVYouth as I reflect on this adventurous and eye-opening semester. I will be in Copenhagen, Denmark next semester for the second half of my study abroad year. Stay tuned!

Olivia Jacobs - Hamilton College

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I've had a busy fall semester at Hamilton College. I took an art course, an introductory women's studies course, and two education courses this semester. Women's studies was fascinating because the issues we've learn about are particularly prominent in today's political climate. My two education courses were wonderful - one focused on lesson planning while the other was an ethnography course in which I had to observe a classroom in the community every week and then write about it. The art course "Figure Drawing" was a toss-up, a totally different area of study and one very unfamiliar to me. I took the course because I wanted to challenge myself. I love that Hamilton allows me to explore and expand my interests. I have continued riding on the Equestrian Club team twice a week as well. It brings me a lot of joy to be around the horses. I also continue to intern at the local middle school running girls empowerment groups. My life at Hamilton is so full of the things I love to do. There are so many possibilities in my future thanks to the generous support of MVYouth.

Olivia Jacobs - Hamilton College

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It is hard to put all of my thoughts and feelings regarding my first semester at Hamilton College into words, but I will do my best! My classes last semester greatly inspired me. I was assigned at least 100 pages of reading every weeknight, but the hours spent pouring over books were well worth it. My eyes have been opened to the vast world around me. I now understand, with clenched fists, America’s system of mass incarceration and the horrifying realities occurring inside American prisons; I have delved into religious studies, exploring Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and Mormonism; I have studied the history of discrimination driven by concepts of race and gender; I have read about the evolution of the American public education system. Aside from academia, I’m interning at a local middle and high school, working in the counseling office and running girls empowerment groups. Working with the kids is the highlight of my week. I am also in the Hamilton Equestrian Club, riding twice a week and loving it. The College has so much to offer, and there is never a day when I feel bored or restless. Hamilton has truly become my home, and I cannot thank MVYouth enough for allowing me to attend such a remarkable school.