Step 5 in "Get yourself to Holland" series: 16 things you need to know before arriving in Holland

The new academic year is about to start, and many international students are probably very anxious about their new life in Holland. "What will i eat?", "how do i travel?", "who will be my friends", "are my teachers nice?", etc. I have been in your shoes, so today i have composed a list of things (i think) that may help you a bit with having a good life in Holland.

Posted by at Jul 30, 2017 11:45 PM

1)      Learn to cook: eating out or takeaway is very expensive in the Netherlands. You can save up a lot of money by cooking at home. If you have flatmates from other countries, this is perfect to try out different cuisines. You can also schedule cooking duties among flatmates so you don’t have to spend so much time cooking and doing grocery everyday.

2)      Learn to bike: if New Zealand has more sheep than human, then Holland may have more bikes than people. Public transportation is not student-friendly, unless you are a domestic student. International students don’t get any discount. Cycling will not only save you some money, but also is a good form of exercise. Also don’t forget to put lights (one in the front and one at the back of the bike), or else you ll get fined 40eu for every missing light.

3)      Download the app 9292 or NS: these apps are for looking up public transport schedule. Public transports in the Netherlands are often realiable and the schedules get updated frequently in case of delay.  

4)      Register your residence at the city municipality: you must always do this. Sometimes students risk it and rent a room whose owner does not allow them to register (this saves the landlords from paying taxes for the rent the students pay the themss). But if the government finds out, you may get into some legal trouble. Furthermore, if later on you want to apply for permanent residency and the government finds out there is a gap in registered residency in your profile, you may lose your chance.

5)      Check out the rules about working part time for international students: if you are from outside of Europe, normally you can only work 10 hours per week during the school year, or full time during the summer. The employers MUST apply for the work permit for you (you CAN’T do it yourself). They then must terminate the permit if you don’t work there anymore. If you move to another job, the new employer must reapply for another work permit for you. Working illegally can result in serious penalties. I know a student who got sent back to her home country immediately for working without work permit.

6)      Get to know the train group ticket: students use this type of train ticket a lot, because it only costs 7 euros for a return trip from any two points in the Netherlands. More information can be found here. If you have to go from Schipol airport to your city on your arrival day, this ticket helps a lot.

7)      Check out your eligibility for the rent benefit and the insurance benefit: students can apply for these two benefits from the Dutch government. You can easily get up to 150-200eu per month for your rent. Check out this website

8)      Understand the house doctor system: all patients must register at a family doctor clinics. If you are sick, this is where you go first. If your illness is serious and requires specialists or further testing, the family doctor needs to write a referal letter to send you to a hospital. If you visit the hospital without this referal letter, your insurance company will not reimburse your medical cost.

9)      Be sociable: studying abroad can be very lonely if you dont make any friend. Join student association, go to student parties, check out some sport clubs, or participate in some volunteer projects. The important thing is that you have to learn to not be shy and dare to approach people. You can just simply strike a conversation about the weather and the rest will flow. That will do the trick, trust me! :D (Dutch people love complaining about the weather)

10)   Do more than just your study: Dutch employers LOVE extracurricular activities. This section in the CV is really important as it demonstrates your work ethics and experience, as students may not have so much professional working experience.

11)   Prepare to read a lot: students in the Netherlands are asked to read a lot, from books to academic articles, for almost every course. You should start getting into the habit of reading and learning how to skim through the page quickly to gather important information.

12)   Ask questions: teachers and classmates are there to help you. Don't be afraid to ask if you don't understand something, be it new knowledge or an assignment instruction. Teachers at Dutch institutes are generally very friendly. I know that this can be very different in some Asian countries, where teachers are often a bit more distant and can be quite intimidating. 

13)   Learn Dutch: if you plan to find a job in Holland, mastering Dutch will help you tremendously. If you are in a bachelor program, you have 3-4 years that you can use to attend Dutch classes in the evening. It may be a bit pricey (For example, at Uni of amsterdam, it costs 300eu per course of half academic semester) but it will be worth it in the end. You can check out my other blogs to learn about my experience with finding a job without knowing the language.

14)   Start thinking about when to do an internship: some study programs leave time for internships, some don’t. But recruiters LOVE applicants with intership experience, so try to squeeze in an internship somewhere in your school year or summer if you can.

15)   Learn about the search-year program: every international student can apply for a search year visa every time they finish a degree. Yes, you can have one search year after your bachelor, and another one after your master, and another one after your PhD. With this visa, they can stay in the Netherlands for one year and have free access to the job market (no work permit or salary requirement).

16)   Be open: this time of your life is to experience, to go on adventures, and to try new things. So don’t be shy and don’t be scared of new things. Success only comes to those who dare to dream, and who are not afraid to grasp opportunities with both hands and run with them.

Good luck with your time in the Netherlands. This is my last blog as a Study in Holland reporter for this academic year. I have had a wonderful time sharing my stories and experiences with you guys. I hope those help you in some way. Thanks for reading my blogs and watching my silly vlogs.

If you want to continue following my life journey, then you can follow me on instagram chungle92.

Posted by at Jul 30, 2017 11:45 PM
Thu Bui says:
Aug 03, 2017 11:08 AM
I'm leaving for the Netherlands in less than a month and lately I've been searching for guidance like this post but they're so hard to find. Yours was tremendously informative and thank you for that!
From a compatriot.
Albert says:
Aug 18, 2017 03:51 PM
I Congrats you very much i am interested to obtain bachelor of accountancy in dutch but i get difficult with to incur tuition fees and other cost
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