Erfahrungen zum Studium Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) an der Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Simba Martens

Simba is studying Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE) im 1. Semester in Amsterdam at the VU University. She was so kind to give us a short interview on her studies.

Hello! Please tell us your name and what you are studying.

Hi my name is Simba and I'm studying PPE (Philosophy, Politics & Economics)

Why did you decide to study this program at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam?

I have always felt like I wanted to take part in solving the problems of the world and I felt that politics and economics were the most relevant realm for that. At first philosophy was just an extra for me. However learning philosophy really made me think about why I hold certain beliefs and how I can justify those.

What exactly do you learn there?

Here you learn the core of Philosophy, Politics and Economics as you would in any other programme. This is called multidisciplinarity. However, almost from the word go you start to combine knowledge from the different subjects and you answer real-world practical questions that combine aspects from all three subjects. This is interdisciplinarity. You deal with anything from the impact of economic globalization on democracy to climate change or justifying the existence of the state. You will cover all the main topics like ethics, political philosophy, microeconomics, macroeconomics, democracy and political institutions.

What does your learning environment look like?

We have our own PPE floor exclusively for us which is nice. They try to keep the class sizes as small as possible. Lectures are usually big (90 students for the 1st years) but seminar classes never really go above 20 which allows you to have engaging and thought provoking discussions without it getting too crowded.

What are the teachers like?

Most of the teachers are good and dedicated. They are also quite down to earth and approachable and its often possible to still ask them questions after class. Lecturers are not at all anonymous like in bigger courses. The Phd candidates who do the seminar groups are also committed and really try to get you to think.

Are there practical parts in this study?

When it comes to practical things this study offers a lot. In the third year you get to go abroad for six months with all sorts of locations available (Mumbai, Beijing, Australia, USA, Britain you name it). You can also do an internship. Last year a week long trip to India with special lectures and discussions at the Indira Ghandi Institute as well as exploring the city of Mumbai was organized. The study association KallioPPE is also making plans for trips to European cities. There are also many extra-curricular events where anyone from philosophers to people working in the Foreign Ministry come and share their knowledge with us.

How did you learn the language?

English is my first language so this wasn't a problem. If it isn't you should definitely learn how to write in academic English because you will need it.

How do you like the city?

The city is amazing. It's the freest there is. It basically combines all the amenities of a big world city but in the space of a medium town. Everything is accessible by bike or public transport and you can go anywhere from coffee shops to opera houses. There are also a number of "treasures" that I leave for you to discover yourself. You will enjoy it.

How did you find an apartment here?

This is probably the toughest part about this city. Everyone wants to be here. I was lucky enough to get accommodation at the Spinoza student campus via the university. The other campus is called Uilenstede and is much closer to the university. If you get such an offer please take it because finding something on your own especially as a foreigner is tough.

What do you think are the advantages/disadvantages of studying in (country)?

The advantage of the Netherlands is that it probably is the freest country in the world. Also it's a small country so everything is accessible and most people understand English and a good number speak German too. The toughest thi9ng truly will be finding accommodation, but other than that there aren't too many frustrations.

What are your plans for the future, and would you do it all over again the same way?

Looking back now, I have NO regrets. I am still deciding on a career path, but I will definitely do an internship as well as continue with a Master's programme after my Bachelor. I will say that something within the EU or UN does seem sttractive to me.