There are a lot of people these days who do not study in their home country. If you are considering studying abroad then the Netherlands is definitely a great choice.
A lot of the study programmes are offered in English and there are a lot of good ranking universities within the country. It doesn’t matter if you are thinking of moving to the Netherlands for your whole study programme or just planning to do an Erasmus for a couple of months.
Here are 10 things you should know before studying abroad in the Netherlands.
1. The grade system ranges from 1 to 10
The lowest grade you can get is a 1, which however, is kind of impossible to get unless you hand in an empty exam. The minimum grade that you need to pass is usually a 6 or 5.5. While 10 is the highest grade, it is kind of impossible to achieve. An 8 is already considered really good.
2. There are a lot of group projects in the Netherlands
Typically, at least with my study programme, you will have to be part of a group project every quarter, which accounts for a large part of your grade.
I have heard that in for example Germany that is not coming at all and they do not have any practical experience when working with companies for example. So just keep in mind that additionally to the normal classes there will usually also be at least one group project.
3. There are a lot of student associations
A lot of student live revolves around different associations such as sport, cultural or study associations. Depending on which city you live in, associations might play a smaller or bigger role in your student life.
Back in Enschede there was not too much to do so it was good to be part of an associations and join their activities. In Amsterdam, however, there was enough to do in the city and my sport association for example did not play as big of a role in my student life as mine in Enschede did.
Within the associations you can join committees, join activities or just go to meeting/ trainings.
4. Be prepared to bike everywhere
There is no way you can live in the Netherlands and not get a bike. Overall, there is a reasons why there are more bikes in the country than people. Unless people come to university by train from different cities, everyone will usually bike everywhere. To the supermarket, classes, on campus or to the club.
5. On that note, you will also learn how to multitask on a bike
Even though, right now there is a new law that you are not allowed to hold your phone in your hands while biking.
But anyway, usually people still can multitask on the bike. Hold umbrellas, drink a beer, eat on a bike, answer your emails, balance someone else on the back of the bike. All of that is completely normal in the Netherlands.
6. It can be difficult to find housing
One struggle that you can face when moving to the Netherlands, especially in the big cities, is finding a place to live. Because there are so many people trying to move to for example Utrecht and Amsterdam, the prices can go up really high because the demand is so high.
Therefore, if you can get accommodation through the university it can save you a lot of time spent searching for a place to live.
7. The academic year starts in the end of August/ beginning of September
So usually, depending on the weekdays, the academic year starts around the end of August/ first of September or somewhere around that time.
Usually, at least for first year and Erasmus students there is also a welcome week around the week before where you will get to know the city and party a bit. There is time off around Christmas and New Year’s and an additional week in March.
The academic year ends in the end of June or if you have to take resits around the first week of July. Depending on your university and schedule obviously this can differentiate slightly.
8. Tuition fees are the same for all public universities
The yearly tuition fees for all EEA citizens as well Switzerland and Surinam are currently at €2087 (2019/2020). For people from outside these countries, the tuition fees can go up to €15000 for Bachelor programmes and even more for Master programmes.
Of course, if you are in the Netherlands as part of an Erasmus programme than you will pay the tuition fees from your home university.
9. You can not pay with cash in most places
While there are still a lot of places in the world where cards are not widely accepted, in the Netherlands it is the other way around. Most Dutch people do not carry around cash at all because you can pay by card everywhere.
Make sure to also get a Dutch back account because most people use Maestro card and not Visa/ Mastercards. For example if you want to pay at the self-check out at the Albert Hijn supermarket you can only do so by Maestro card and not by cash or credit card.
10. Everyone speaks English
A lot of study programmes are exclusively in English. However, because Dutch people watch most of their movies in English with subtitles, pretty much all Dutch people are fluent in English.
Especially in Amsterdam and the bigger cities where there is a lot of tourism you will never have to worry about not making your way around with only English.
Talk to you later x
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