Amsterdam This May

By Jasmin Ronach

Time is passing quickly and we are already in the last month of the 16-week-period. Similar to an article I wrote in March, I want to guide you through what is happening in and around Amsterdam this month. No matter your major, there is something for everyone to discover in May, and I encourage you to go beyond your usual field of interest to discover all that Amsterdam has to offer. If you see something that sounds interesting, just click the link in the event title and you’ll have the opportunity to read more and buy tickets.


Science has come a long way from flawed guesswork to increasingly exact explanations of what happens in and around us. Today you can appreciate its roots and see what people used to believe in the past, whilst staying up-to-date with new developments. This month offers a lot of opportunities to acquire new scientific knowledge in a social environment.

Weekend of Anatomy with Museum Vrolik & Morbid Anatomy, May 10 to 12 at Museum Vrolik

A series of lectures and workshops under the theme of “Sex and Gender: Skeletons coming out of the closet” await you during this year’s weekend of Anatomy. On Friday, talks about the influence of syphilis on artistic masterminds and the search for the perfect aphrodisiac mark the beginning of the three-day-event at Hortus Botanicus. A wide range of topics such as queer anatomy, historical cases of intersex, exhibiting reproducing bodies, sexuality in the past and much more is presented in Saturday’s talks. The last day focuses on the history of the Red Light district, including a tour through this area, and also offers a view into the UvA’s collection of anatomical atlases and a talk about the sex life of plants at the Hortus Botanicus. Throughout the weekend, several workshops take place where you can for example make a collage of dissected body parts, create your own dermatological STD complication on a wax face or learn how to make anatomical drawings with different techniques.  Additionally, tours through the museum Vrolik are possible as well as special backstage views at the depots of the museum and a special tour with embryologists. Tickets for the different lectures and workshops are available online.

Blockchain: The Next Everything, May 13 from 20:00 to 22:00 at De Balie

If your interest lies less with biology and more with data science, then make sure to attend this event. Blockchain is seen as the technology that will shape society and change the future.  Journalist, author and entrepreneur Stephen Williams will explain what Blockchain is, how it works and how it will impact us. He sees it as a means of combating issues such as economic inequality, corporate transparency and

climate change. During the event you will get the chance to learn how to create a new economic model using blockchain, that works in a safe and efficient way. Don’t miss your chance to learn all about how the responsible and effective use of blockchain, for a ticket price of just 15€.

VSPA conference “Innovation in Psychology”, May 15 from 10:00 to 18:00 at CREA

Whether you are a psychology student or simply have an interest in mental health, this conference will provide you with a new perspective of the field. Throughout several workshops you will discuss innovative approaches such as therapies based on A.I., VR, drugs or music. The event costs 6€ and food will be provided for the day. Tickets are available online and can be acquired for the whole event or specific workshops.


In today’s world, human rights and personal freedom are still not accessible to everyone. If you have a passion for activism and an interest in politics and/or history, there are many events in Amsterdam this month that will help you to keep up with current issues.

Letters of Hope and Sorrow, May 3 to 5 at Newest Art Organization

Liberation Day takes place in the Netherlands every year on May 5 and marks the day that the Dutch were freed from Nazi occupation during World War II. Seventy-four years later, freedom is still not within reach for everyone, as is shown in the exhibition. Fifteen letters written by people forced to leave their war-torn countries are presented there, to raise awareness for the importance and fragility of freedom.

Lecture on the Holocaust, May 8 from 13:00 to 17:00

Unlike refugees, most Europeans haven’t had to fight for their freedom after the Second World War. The Dutch still celebrate Liberation Day with music spectacles and shared meals, but if you want to go beyond that and learn more about why we commemorate this day, the VSPA student association has a great event in store. A lecture will explore the psychological aspects of the Holocaust, i.e. how such an event could ever happen, how people could be driven to such extremes and what impact it had on survivors. Tickets cost 2€ for the lecture.

Talks about Media and Society, May 14 to 16 at SPUI25

Have you ever wondered how media and the current political culture affects our society? SPUI25 is organizing several lectures that will attempt to answer this question. On May 14 the first event called “Civic Engagement in a Mediatized Culture” talks about how we can promote change with the help of digital technologies. By designing games, making interactive documentaries or creating protest cartography, you can become an engaged citizen who does not contribute to the maintenance of fixed power structures. On May 15, a second lecture takes place at Amsterdamse Academische Club, and aims to inform participants about Urgent Publishing, a strategy to produce media that values quantity over quality and leads to the propagation of fake news. The evening will focus on how researchers, journalists, publishers and designers should operate to preserve the quality of articles and reports in a society that values a fast output. Also, another topic that will be discussed is how the public can best navigate media in a post-truth world. Fake news has had an influence on events such as Brexit and continues to impact people’s opinions as it gets shared on social media. The talk on May 16 at SPUI25 (“Understanding ideological shifts and conflicts on social media”) focuses on how political debates are shifted into partisan directions by conversations on Twitter, that are sometimes influenced by bots posing as people. Marco T. Bastos  will delve into his study where he used an algorithm to identify globalist, populist, economist or nationalist statements in tweets to draw a conclusion about the pre-Brexit surge in social media output. The second speaker introduces computational methods that can determine meaningful parts of articles such as the subtopics or frame. Furthermore, he compares the differences in how the British and the Dutch media report on immigration and how this language and structure can influence the readers’ minds. Tickets for each of the three events can be acquired online.

Brexit: Better Get EUsed to it, May 27 from 20:00 to 22:00 at CREA

A prime example of the influence of media on politics is Brexit. While it may be a word that many just can’t hear anymore, the consequences of the UK’s exit from the EU will be vast and affect many AUC students as well. This lecture will address the effects of Brexit on the EU and the UK. The evening is free for students and is meant to inform them about the outcome of Brexit and what it will mean for them.


College life can be quite tough, and we all need a way to relax and to let our creativity run free after our minds have been occupied by study sessions. Whether that is through art, movies, writing, photography or botany, there is something for everyone this May. This month there are some unique opportunities to let your artistic talents shine and meet new people on the way.

Somewhere Nice: New Cinema from Eastern Europe & the Caucasus, May 9 (or May 13) from 17:00 to 19:30 at the UvA Singel library

The stereotype of movies from Eastern Europe and the Caucasus region is that they are often dark and serious, thematizing danger. The Russian and Slavic Studies department as well as the student association Radost are organizing the screening of three extraordinary movies from these regions in order to prove that this is not always the case. The movies are chosen because they reflect different forms of art and look at the darker sides of life in a poetic way. After the screenings there is a Q&A-session with the creators themselves. This event is a great opportunity for cinephiles to gain insight into the developments of new cinema in a region they may not be intimately familiar with. On May 9, the second movie (“Daymohk”) is shown, while on May 13 the third and final movie is screened (“Take Me Somewhere Nice”).

Workshop: From Ideas to Projects – Creativity in Action, May 18 from 10:00 to 17:00 at Paper Fetish

If you pursue any kind of artistic passion, you will at least once have encountered that feeling where your creativity has hit a roadblock. This workshop is the perfect opportunity if you need to free your mind and be pushed to develop your ideas, using methods based on psychology and neuroscience. You will be led from a blank page to your own project, whether that is in photography, writing, painting or whatever your preferred form of art is. Using problem-solving skills, you will be able to overcome what is blocking your creativity and will be left with something you can be proud of creating.

Botanikurs 101: Cuttings with Plantmom, May 18 from 17:30 to 19:00 at Stichting Mediamatic

Now that it is finally spring and really has started to feel like it, you may want to decorate your room to reflect this spirit as well. The indoor plant expert Plantmom has already taught a workshop on how to keep up with your houseplants and now you can learn everything about cuttings, which are the flowers that were cut or plucked and may end up in a vase on your window sill or dining table. Attendance is limited to a small group and for 24.50€ you can participate and go home with your very own water garden.

In the end, it does not matter whether your academic passion is science, the arts, politics, or anything else. All of us have diverse interests and will be attracted to many different disciplines and hobbies. My hope for the month of May is that you go out and try some of these new things, that might not even be within your usual field of interest, and just let them surprise you.

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