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10 facts you need to know about studying in the Netherlands

The Netherlands hosts approximately 70,000 international students each year. What makes the Netherlands an interesting study destination and what should you know before deciding to study there? Here are 10 quick facts you should know:

1. Don’t get confused: It is “the Netherlands”, Holland is only a certain area in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a small country, it has a total area of 41,526 sq. km (16,033 sq. miles). Comparatively, The Netherlands is slightly less than twice the size of the state of New Jersey.
Besides its small size, it is very different across its various regions. You have the coastal towns which are very different than the towns inland. Many people don’t know if the right name for the country is The Netherlands or Holland. Holland is only the name of the region in the west coastal area of the country. This area contains the three most thickly settled cities: Amsterdam, the capital, the Hague, the city in which the government seated, and Rotterdam, One of Europe’s largest port. For many people around the world, "Holland" is used to describe the whole country.

By Michal Klajban (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

2. There’s a different way of learning

Instead of large lectures, many classes take place in groups of 4-10 people. There is no focus on how you work and how much effort you put in the project, it is mostly about the results. The professor of the class doesn’t do most of the talking, he or she expects that you participate in the class and express your opinion. This way of learning is very different from the way of learning in other countries.

3. Everybody is always on time

In the Netherlands everybody always arrives on time, no matter what for. You also do not go home earlier than allowed. You could say that this is similar to the Germans or the Swiis, but people in the Netherlands will never admit that their on time mentality stems from the proximity of those countries.

4. Learn some Dutch

Because of the size of the country and the fact that most of the neighboring countries speak different languages, almost everybody in the Netherlands speaks English. Although it is highly recommended to learn some basic Dutch, so you are able to read signs and relevant information. So try to find some time in your class schedule to learn some Dutch.

5. Technical equipment

Dutch universities have all the equipment you ever dreamed about. You’re allowed to use all the newest technical equipment, for example, a 3D printer. Don’t be shy and feel free to ask if you want to make use of such equipment.

6. Transport yourself on a bike

The Netherlands is the bike riding country, everywhere you look you see people biking. In fact there are more bikes than citizens in the Netherlands! So if you do not know how to ride a bike yet, make it a priority to learn. The Netherlands is full of specialized bike paths so you can ride your bike safely separated from the normal road where the cars travel.

7. Sunday is a day of rest

Most stores and supermarkets outside of the major cities are closed on Sundays. Restaurants, similarly, will largely be closed. If you come from a place where everything is open on Sunday it will take some time to get used to it. So if you are arriving during the weekend make sure you have some food for the first days.

8. The place of opportunity

The universities have close connections with many companies based in and outside of the Netherlands. There are different reasons why companies have close relations with universities, one of them being that the students are using the latest technology, and the companies want feedback on it. Another major reason is that companies recruit employees from the universities, so there is a chance that when you graduate, you may already have a job secured in your field.

9. Get a residence permit

As a Canadian or American citizen you can stay in Europe for a maximum of 3 months on a tourist visa. So if you’re planning to study in the Netherlands, you should get a Visa or a residence permit. The best thing to do is to start this process up in your home country, and you can finish it once you arrive in the Netherlands. The most important things you have to arrange in order to get a Visa is to prove that you have enough funds for the entire duration of your study. You also have to prove that you have health insurance for the duration of your stay. Carry your Visa like it is your ID. You can travel with your Visa within Europe without any problems, and if you get stopped, your Visa proves that you are staying legally in the Netherlands.

10. Be open minded

In the Netherlands people, but also universities, are very open minded. They are open to new ideas or different approaches to different problems. As a foreigner, you may think differently about a certain problem or idea, it is a special gift when everybody is open to hearing your ideas.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” - Albert Einstein

This post was written by Sam Koekoek, an intern at GradTrain. Sam is from Amsterdam and is spending the winter with GradTrain working on social media, marketing and content creation. Sam is always into the latest technology. Don't be surprised if you see him walking around with multiple devices before the rest of the world has them.


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