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How to get around in the Netherlands as an international student

For international students, studying in the Netherlands is an opportunity to discover new places and experiences. But being new to a country also means getting used to different customs and ways of doing things. This post will guide you through some of the hurdles many international students have to cross when they arrive in The Hague.

Debit cards in the Netherlands

When you arrive in the Netherlands you might come across some shops, restaurants and bars where you can’t pay with your current debit card (especially when you’re used to paying with a credit card!) One obvious solution is to always keep some cash on you. But there is a much easier option that many Dutch students use. At Rabobank they offer a Studentenpakket. This is a free bank account for students that will provide you with a debit card you can use problem-free in the Netherlands. This way you don’t have to keep an eye out for ATM’s when you spontaneously go for a beer with friends :).

Bikes... Everywhere

Biking in the Netherlands is more a necessity than a pleasure. When you move to The Hague, you’ll quickly realize how important your bike is. Although there are many alternate methods of transportation — trams, buses, walking — biking is the best way way to move around in the Netherlands.

Not only is biking environmentally-friendly, it is also the quickest way to get to class. Because bikes are treated the same as cars in the Netherlands they have been fully integrated into the traffic system. Through the designated bike lanes and countless parking spots across cities, biking has become the most efficient form of transportation. Biking in the Netherlands is quick, easy and fun! Your bike is definitely your best friend when you are a student in the Netherlands!

Every friendship, however, comes with its ups and downs. And one of these downs is biking through the rain. Since there are several locations in The Hague where there is no direct public transportation to college, you probably need to bike on rainy days. To avoid arriving with wet clothes and soaked hair, you must get a raincoat or large rain poncho! It might make you look like a plastic bag on two wheels, but it is effective!

9292: My GPS

In some cases, however, it is necessary to use public transportation. Although the Netherlands has an extensive public transportation system, it does take some time to get acquainted with it. Some buses only run during rush hour and train schedules may completely change at night. An easy way to get information about the public transportation is the 9292 application. When you fill in both your location and destination in the app, you’ll easily find (alternative) transportation to get you home.

Feeling at Home in The Hague

Since most people speak English wherever you go, you won’t encounter many language barriers. Feeling at home in a new place comes gradually, but by keeping busy and surrounding yourself with friends that will uplift you, it will come sooner than later. If you’ve lived on your own before, you’ll also recognize the importance of being invited into a home. Even if it is simply for a coffee or dinner, welcoming international students at home can be extremely meaningful. Especially on public holidays like Christmas! So if you have international buddies, maybe try hosting them once in a while. Trust me, they will greatly appreciate it and will make them feel at home!

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