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Things to do and know before studying in the Netherlands

With this little series I’d like to share my experiences from my study at a Dutch University of Applied Science. I study Global Project and Change Management in Zwolle, currently I am at the end of my 2nd year- only two more years to go!

So you also found a great study in the Netherlands and can´t wait to start your adventure there?
Great! This following list might help you to plan certain things before and during your study in the country of windmills, biclyes and and tall people.

Pimp up your studielink profile
Most probably you already had contact with this online platform, no matter for what kind of higher education institution you you applied to: you need to register your study choice via this platform first. As soon as you know where your appartment will be in the Netherlands also put this information into your studlink profile as your university might send you letter and other information during your study.

Take a Dutch course
If your study programme is in Dutch most probably you will receive an extensive language course at the beggining of your study. If your programm is in English like mine you might have the oppertunity to still learn some Dutch at the univerisity. If you are interested in doing such a course inform yourself beforehand at your university and possible costs. If there is no provided course I really recommend you to still do a Dutch course on your own in your home country. I didn´t do one and I really regret that. Next to my study I have barely time to really dive into the language with the result that after two years I understand a lot of Dutch but I can barely speak it, only a few sentences. And especially if you study in a small town like me don´t expect everyone to be able to communicate in English. So therefore: Get your Dutch language skills on as you don´t just stay one semester but 3-4 years, and then it´s nice to at least have a samll friendly conversation with a Dutch person as they are quite chattable people.

 Become an offical Dutchie: The Burgerservicenummer (BSN)
To get this number is crucial when you stay longer in the Netherlands. You have to go the town council of your new home and have to register there. They need your ID and your rent contracts they also ask for your birth certificate however I still haven´t handed that in after two years and nothing happened 😀 But rather take it with you. when you get this number you can open a Dutch bank account and you can apply to Dutch subsidations, also when you have that number you can and should create your DIGID which is like your online personality details which you need to apply for various Dutch public services.

 Money makes the world go ’round : the bank account
I got one because to me it is easier to pay my rent with a Dutch bank account, sometimes you can also pay it with a foreign credit card but when you have a Dutch giro card you are defenitely safe and it also offery you lots of benefits.
I recommend to you to get an account with the RABOBANK. You get a free account as a student, just bring your student ID. I could set it up with one employee in like 20 minutes and after a week you receive the card and a few days later your pin code. You also receive a little ´reader´ which enables you to do online banking. So far I am super satisfied with their service! A plus: if you transfer money to a German account( I assume any other European account) it´s on there the exact same day! Quitting your bank account is also easy and free of charge.

 Again, money: the tution fee
All the  governmental higher education institutions in the Netherlands charge the same price for their Bachelor programmes. At the moment this price is €1980.- pery year. (May, 2016) You can pay the tution fee in rates each month (approximitaley this will be around €300) or you pay it all at once which is also possible. When you do that just keep in mind to safe up that money and be able to pay that amount around September/October each year. Please be aware that the Dutch universities are quite strict with you paying your fees on time! If you don’t pay them you for example won’t receive your student ID or they block your access to your school’s intranet.

 What comes around,  goes around: Living expenses

Keep in mind that the majority of your expenses will be spend to pay your appartment. Approximitaley you will need to pay around €300 to €500 for a room in a shared flat. If you’d rather live in an appartment for yourself then there is a finacial aid you could use from the Dutch government. The amount of money which they will help you with is for free and you don’t have to pay it back! Sounds great right?  It´s called ‘huurtoeslag’ and you can apply for it onlinbe (hooray!:)) via the general website of the subsidation systems (‘toeslagen’) Netherlands where you can apply to all kinds of subsidation money. Follow this link to register with your DiGiD. To declare that you want to be subsidised you need to live by yourself in an appartment. Shared flats are excluded from the rent subsidiation! My example: My rent for my own little appartment in a student housing is €508 and I get financial help of €148. Therefore my rent for a 30 squaremeters with own little bathroom and kitchen  is €361. The online form which you need to fill in takes around 20-30 min. Get a Dutchie to help you filling in all the details. You will need to provide your rent contracts, three months of your bank account activities and your paper that proves that you are a student. It takes them a few months to check your inqury but be patient 🙂

Work, work, work next to your study

The first tip I want to share with you is that you should look out for some work oppertunities at your own university. For exmaple I am working  as an assitant to the recruitment officer on a regular basis. But also only every now and then the univerisities have job offers for example to help out with various promotions within the university or promoting the university at fairs. Just regulary check your school’s intranet.  I assume when you study in a large student city like Maastricht or Amsterdam you could also find jobs where you don’t need to speak fluently Dutch, however I don’t have experiences in those cities. When you study in a small town like me then you have to speak Dutch to get a job.  The Dutch also pay you higher wages the older you become. So please don’t wonder when you are 18 and only get paid around 5 Euros per hour, this is indeed a normal wage for that age.

 Better be safe than sorry:  Your Insurance

When you are German, stay within the family insurance of your parents, this is the easiest as you don’t have to find one yourself and you can be in it until you are done with your study and only need to get your own insUrance when you start working a regular job. When you get a job in the Netherlands you need to have a Dutch insurance though!

Get a bike!

This is probably the most obvious but best advice that I can give you 🙂 Get a cheap one within the country but invest in a big and high quality lock! Otherwise your bike is gone as quickly as you got it.

How to get cheap train tickets

Let’s face it: using  public transport in the Netherlands is ridicously expensive! Here are a few tips how you can still get a around and see places on a. budget:

1. Travel with someone who owns an OV card

The OV card is the public transport card all the Dutch students use, they can travel for free eiher on the week days or the weekends,, you as a foreign student unfortunately can’t get this offer. But a tiny plus: if you travel with a DÜtchie who owns such a card you get on your own train ticket 40% discount.

2.Use group tickets via facebook

The Dutch train service provider NS offers group tickets for up to 10 people. If you get the maximum amount you only pay 7 Euros back and forth!  Become a member of the various. facebook groups ( called grouptickets and then the name of the city). where you can form a group with others.The benefit: you don’t need to travel with the other 9 people but you only need the same end-destination. Tickets can be bought online and you need a Dutch bank account. However only one person buys the tickets and the rest of the team members pay their amount to that person. So far I only made good experiences with those groups.

Buy day tickets in stock

Every now and then the NS offers cheap day tickets or weekend tickets which you can buy online at the NS itself or at various Dutch shops. Check out this website for the latest offers and where you can purchase them.

Let me know if this list has helped you, or what important other info I might have missed! Success met je studie! <3

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