Having previously studied in London, Alicante and Amsterdam, I know a thing or two about how to have an amazing student experience. From my experience of studying in Amsterdam this year, I have compiled a comprehensive list of all things students should know about studying in Amsterdam. This guide includes information on rent discount, scholarships, sports, students associations, volunteering and internship opportunities.
Personally, VU University Amsterdam has provided me with one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I obtained a full VU Fellowship Scholarship and a place on the prestigious summer exchange MBA program at the University of Notre Dame in the USA. The secret to my success by being actively involved in everything from sports to student associations, competitions, volunteering and professional development.
The people, in my opinion, are the essential ingredient for having an incredible experience – in such a multicultural city as Amsterdam networking should be a priority, especially for students as it is crucial for learning about other people and cultures and just having as much fun as possible. My philosophy in life is that having drive, passion and fun in whatever you do is paramount to being happy and making others happier. The atmosphere of being a student at VU University Amsterdam and living on campus is very desirable. I would highly recommend it.
One word of advice from everybody is to find accommodation well in advance before you arrive in Amsterdam. There is a shortage of decent houses. Find out if you eligible for the 40% rent discount from the following website of Belastingdienst (in Dutch).
There are various scholarships you can apply for when studying in Holland. The VU Fellowship Scholarship is the main one from VU University Amsterdam. The amount awarded varies for European and Non European nationals. Make sure the application is completed in time.
For an extensive list of all available scholarships in the Netherlands, visit the Grantfinder at the website of NUFFIC.
You can join the VU sports centre at three different locations. Most locations have gym facilities and offer a wide variety of classes. It is definitely worth the investment to maintain an active lifestyle. You can even join one of the sports clubs!
International Student Societies
International Student Network (ISN) of UvA and Erasmus Student Network (ESN) of VU University Amsterdam are the largest student associations which deal with enhancing the experience of international students in Amsterdam. Within these associations exists a board of five members (Dutch) and various committees (mixed nationalities). I am an active member of ESN’s PR Committee. We take part in weekly meetings over dinner where we discuss and execute the establishment of new partnerships, sponsoring deals and even activities. In the last semester we organised a pageant with an auction where we raised funds for the VU Kinderstad – a charity for children with long-term illnesses. This semester we plan to organise a Prom, a fundraising sports event and a volunteer day. Personally, I have found this experience to be very rewarding and extremely fun. I would highly recommend it to all students to become an active member of an association.
Academic Student Associations
These are usually affiliated with a university school. If you are a member, you can attend all activities and events organised by them and have discounts on books with the member’s card. The business school offers the choice of joining the following societies, depending on your interest:
– Financial Student Association (FSA) – My favourite and the biggest of all three. They host some of the most incredible events for business students especially if you are interested in Finance Consulting, Accounting and Banking. I attended the International Banking Cycle and Traders Trophy and I had so much fun as well as I got to meet many students and employers. Each year they host an international research project which is open to all members. This year it will be in India. To become an active member you must speak Dutch.
– Marketing Association Amsterdam (MAA) – For marketing orientated students. As well as professional events such as Amsterdam Marketing Event, Students’ Den etc, MAA also hosts social activities. They offer training and development opportunities. Their research project of 2012 will be held in Vietnam.
– Aureus – The student association for the Business and Economics school (FEWEB), it offers social and professional events for both Dutch and International students. Proficiency in Dutch is not required to become an active member. It is also possible to become a writer for their magazine Avenir. Aureus also hosts some great events throughout the year including Amsterdam Academic Conference which this year focused on Drive, Amsterdam Marketing Challenge, International Study Trip, Winter sports etc.
Each society allows you to become an active member but an application with a CV and Cover Letter is required. For all other students, the following link provides a list of all available societies per faculty: http://www.vu.nl/en/current-students/miscellaneous-facilities/student-associations-and-societies/faculty-associations-and-societies/index.asp
VU University Amsterdam has numerous exchange programmes including Erasmus, Globe (non-European exchanges). The summer schools programs range from 2-4 weeks and can be found in a variety of countries including China, Denmark, Norway, France.
For Master students from the Business School (FEWEB), there is the possibility to undertake an MBA Summer Exchange in the USA at the University of Notre Dame. I am extremely excited to have been chosen for this exchange.
For international internship opportunities see AIESEC http://www.aiesec.nl/
From my personal experiences, I have always played an active role in contributing to the local community by volunteering in schools or fundraising. For volunteering opportunities in Amsterdam visit: http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/living/resources/volunteer-schemes
SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise)
If you would like to contribute some of your time to developing social projects, to help members of society then visit http://www.sifevu.nl/
If you are looking for student jobs you can tutor privately, see http://studentify.nl/
Dutch courses are offered by VU University and cost around 250 per intensive course of 8 weeks for university students. In my opinion, taking this course is a worthy investment for all international students as having knowledge of the local language will open doors to many multinational firms based in Amsterdam. See link http://www.let.vu.nl/en/dutch-as-a-second-language/courses-in-dutch/index.asp .
You may also like this comprehensive guide of learning Dutch http://studentify.nl/guides/language%20courses .
Let’s not forget, having a social life is very important and whether you attend the numerous activities organised by ESN throughout the year, or organise your own trips to other Dutch cities or international trips – this aspects should not be missing.
Partying comes at a high rate, especially if you live at Uilenstede. With the majority of international students living on campus at Uilenstede, it is impossible not to attend a party or dinner every week.
There is so much to do in Amsterdam. For more information visit http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/visiting/visitingportal
For very cheap train tickets to travel throughout the Netherlands check the Kruidvat promotions for €12.49.
If you have any queries I would be happy to help, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!