Living in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a small, but nicely crowded, country in the centre of Europe. It takes about four hours to travel by train from Groningen (in the north) to Maastricht (in the south). As approximately a quarter of the Netherlands lies below sea level, it is good to know that the excellent and famous Delta Works keep the sea at a safe distance. The population of the Netherlands is expected to increase to 18 million by the year 2050. The total area of the Netherlands amounts to more than 41,000 square kilometres, which means that we have a relatively high population density of almost 500 people per square kilometre.
‘Holland’ or ‘The Netherlands’?
Should you call our country ‘Holland’ or ‘The Netherlands’? And what’s the difference between the two? The country’s formal name is ‘Nederland’ (The Netherlands), meaning the ‘low country’, or the ‘lowlands’, as much of the land is at or below sea level. The Netherlands consists out of twelve provinces. Two of them, North and South Holland, are the two provinces that together make Holland and they are the most heavily populated of all the provinces, encompassing the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. Due to the maritime and economic power of these provinces in the 17th century, the Netherlands became known worldwide as Holland. To make matters even more confusing the inhabitants of the Netherlands are called Dutch.
Despite what you might have heard about the Netherlands, it only rains 7% of the time. Which means it will rain about 25 days a year, not bad right? The Dutch climate features cool summers and mild winters. The average temperature in the summer months is 16.6º C and 2.8º C in the winter
Further information regarding the Netherlands
You can peruse further official information regarding the Netherlands via the official Dutch website, www.holland.com. Further ‘light-hearted’ information about the Dutch is included on the website, Stuff Dutch People Like and further information regarding studying in the Netherlands is included on the website, www.studyinholland.nl.
The Netherlands is a liberal and tolerant country. The Dutch value their freedom of speech. They mostly say what they think and don’t like to sugarcoat things too much; what you see is what you get! For example: If you don’t like the Royal family, you can express this meaning without being frowned upon.
Around 50% of the Dutch population is religious, most of them are Christian. Therefore shops are often closed on Sundays in smaller areas. In larger cities most shops are open all weekend. But because of the multicultural identity of the Netherlands, the Dutch are very open to people from other cultures and religions. Finding halal food supermarkets or a mosque is not quite hard, for example.
The Dutch are very informal. We wear our ‘normal’ clothes to work, and at University you can always stop by your professor’s office for advice. Being punctual is key. Dutch people don’t like being late, or waiting for someone who is. And we also announce it beforehand when we want to stop by for a cup of coffee!
Travelling in the Netherlands
With its central position within Europe, the Netherlands is also a great starting point for a trip through the continent. It is the gateway to Europe! Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam therefore has flights to basically anywhere in the world. You can also travel to major capital cities like Paris, London and Berlin by train in under 6 hours. Venlo’s Euregional location within Europe is very beneficial too. There are plenty of airports in a 100 km radius, like Düsseldorf Airport, Cologne Bonn Airport, Weeze Airport, Maastrich Aachen Airport and Eindhoven Airport.
Dutch Railway system
The Netherlands has a modern and extensive railway network. Intercity trains run regularly between all Dutch cities. Local trains also stop at intermediate stations. On most trains, you can choose to travel by first class or second class. Reservations cannot be made for seats on standard train services. Tickets may be purchased from ticket vending machines at railway stations or via the Internet. It is advisable to check if any special offers may apply.
Railway stations are generally located centrally. For further and detailed information regarding departure times and fares, please visit the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways) website, or contact the Public Transport Travellers’ Information Line via the telephone number, 0900 9292 (EUR 0.70 per minute), which can only be called from within the Netherlands. Or visit the 9292 website.
It is a fact that the Netherlands is a perfect country for cycling, where you will find more bicycles than people. Throughout the country, more than 100,000 kilometres of trails and road networks are available, including many cycle paths that are ready for you to explore. The Netherlands has a nationwide network of cycle paths totalling approximately 30,000 kilometres in length, which will offer you excellent opportunities for discovering the beautiful landscape. Many people use a bicycle and then a train to travel to work or to university, as you will see from the large numbers of bicycles parked at smaller railway stations. Larger railway stations have special bicycle parking garages.
Why study in the Netherlands?
We can think of numerous reasons why studying in the Netherlands is a good idea:
It is an international and multicultural country
We currently house international students from 157 different countries, mostly from Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and China. The Netherlands now has more than 112.000 international students, 1 out of 10 students is international. Around 95% of the Dutch locals speak English, which is quite unique for a non-Anglophone country like the Netherlands.
Study costs are affordable
Compared to many other countries, the tuition fees in the Netherlands are quite affordable. Students from EEA countries pay €2.209,- a year, and students from non-EEA countries pay €8.330,- or €10.660,- a year (depending on the study programme).
Modern teaching methods
The educational system in the Netherlands is of high quality, and Dutch universities are (worldwide) acknowledged for their modern way of teaching.
Affordable accommodation costs
Living abroad can be practically impossible because of the skyrocket apartment rents. Living in the Netherlands is very doable, you will pay between €380,- and €500,- a month for a furnished room in Venlo. Experience has shown that students living and studying in the Netherlands for one year spend an average of between EUR 800 and EUR 1,100 per month. To be able to cover those costs, you can work part time up until 32 hours a month, plus you are eligible for a student OV-Chipkaart for free public transportation either during the week or weekends (only EEA students).
Great travel opportunities
With its central position within Europe, the Netherlands is a great starting point for a trip through the continent. It is the gateway to Europe! Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam therefore has flights to basically anywhere in the world. You can also travel to major capital cities like Paris, London and Berlin by train in under 6 hours.
Degrees are recognized internationally
The country has been officially recognized as a knowledge centre. Education in the Netherlands meets all international standards and has a good reputation globally. A degree from a Dutch University (of Applied Sciences) provides you with a lot of opportunities in your future career in any country worldwide.