PITT HOME |FIND PEOPLE

Sarah Levine

Bio Summary
Cohort Year: 
2017
Home Institution: 
Temple University
Heinz Programming Area: 
Economic Opportunity
Study Abroad Country: 
Netherlands
International Experience

Vira Heinz allowed for Sarah to travel to the Netherlands for two months this past summer. Staying in Amsterdam, Sarah pulled back the stereotypes this "party" city faces from the rest of world by studying Dutch Social Policy along with their progressive public policies and healthcare system. She covered topics on how prostitution is regulated, their drug policy, health education, housing and immigration policies as well as LGBT rights.

Throughout the summer Sarah focused her studies on addiction and the implementation of harm reduction strategies through a pragmatic lens. She looked at policies from start to finish. Visiting the Hague Sarah toured the Senate floor and Knights Hall learning about how policies are established and voted upon through the parliamentary system. She followed the policies to the streets looking at the stereotypes reflected within the culture.

For example, she was permitted the opportunities to tour the Red Light District through the Prostitution Information Center which gave a first hand view of how their policies lead to women empowerment and the safety procedures that protect the women. Sarah was also fortunate enough to be able to celebrate Pride in the first country to legalize same sex marriage. She found the Dutch have very pragmatic views which are the reasoning behind the policies. Sex workers are inevitably people and instead of penalizing the workers it would be safer to grant them rights and protection. Similarly the Dutch "pride" themselves on the cultural norm of autonomy in peoples' personal lives as long as it does not negatively effect others. The Dutch openness and bluntness in day to day conversation helped foster a genuine experience talking to locals.

Sarah indulged in the typical Dutch snack of fries with mayonnaise and herring. She very quickly embraced the Dutch lifestyle and biked everywhere, which inevitably helped work it off. Her fondest memory was when she challenged herself to go on a bike ride alone to the next town over, Muiden. The four-hour bike ride took her through pastures and along the coast witnessing historic features of the Netherlands in an organic environment. The independence of being out on your own, unable to read signs, built her confidence and trust in herself that she would (eventually) find her way back to Amsterdam.

In her free time, Sarah took on external studies focusing on her lifelong passion, the Dutch artist, Vincent Van Gogh. Sarah explored the Dutch culture and values through the opinions of Vincents’ influence on the country and cultural differences. Her experience in the Netherlands was nothing less then “gezellig."

Gezellig- the feeling of comfort, enjoyment, and coziness

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