Written by Sebastian Peichl
Everything starts with that nostalgic moment at the airport, when you are holding your passport and waving goodbye to family and friends while passing the security check. One last turning around and then you already have to go towards your gate and your new life abroad in The Netherlands.
Together with thousands of other Dutch and international students you suddenly find yourself in an exciting “introduction” or “orientation week”, where you do not only hear several speeches in auditoriums and try to avoid getting lost during campus tours, but enjoy loads of fun, sports and party activities that student associations have prepared.
Disgracefully one day you wake up with a strong headache and, even worse, you realize that orientation week is over and uni actually has started. To guarantee that your stay at a Dutch uni becomes the best time of your life while surviving stress and exams here are the things that you definitely need to know before arriving in Nederlands:
#1 Accommodation: better safe than sorry
Finding accommodation is always a challenge, but Amsterdam is on a whole new level. You have to find your way in between only little housing opportunities available, incredibly expensive prices and scammers. Ideally, your accommodation is not too far away from uni, where you will have to pass by, at least from time to time. So, if you do not want to end like my friend that has been sleeping on my carpet for two weeks better start on time!
#2 Financing: take advantage of your opportunities
Free money; also known as parents have probably been one of your main sources of funding. Not any more! Squeezing out money of your poor parents and missing many activities due to the limits of your small budget is over. Make sure to check scholarships, loans, grants for housing, transport and other expenses thereby making your parents happy and having more money at hand!
#3 Integration: become Dutch
The best way of diving into Dutch culture and society is to become one of them. This means that from now on you will take the bike wherever you go and independently of rain and snow, because it is your new loyal travel companion. Also, learn at least some words of Dutch for every day life even though you might take some time to cope with Dutch pronunciation. Furthermore, you should definitely become Dutch by trying croquets, bitterballen, kippeling and maybe even raw haring in a gezellig bar.
#4 Academia: diamonds are only born under pressure
Dutch university is, without any doubt, truly intense. Hence, you should form a group with peers to share summaries about mandatory literature and notes to save valuable time and stress. Thus, do not commit the expensive error to buy your books. Instead, lend them from your library or get them second hand from your study association. Lastly, and as courses are not taught in semesters but in periods of 4-8 weeks try to find out how you can increase your time management skills to spend your valuable time enjoying student life.
All in all, and if you take into account this advice, there is absolutely nothing standing between you and your successful student life in The Netherlands. So, what are you waiting for?