In the following reports, you can read about the experiences of international students who came to Amsterdam to study an exchange programme.
What benefited me the most is being able to exchange not only experiences and knowledge but also fundamental mindsets with local people as well as other international students. I am very lucky to have 11 Dutch floor mates. I came to realize that they enjoy the present moment very much, and are very self-motivated in learning new things and applying their skills. I realized they invest their time in a lot of interesting things intrinsically and they learn very fast and effectively. As a Taiwanese student studying in Hong Kong, I am often very fast-paced and in many times I am not present in moments in which I should relax and enjoy. I feel that I have changed as a person in many ways because I embraced and connected to the minds of Dutch friends.
I would suggest going to some local night parties with local friends. These are exclusive parties with great music that are not expensive. People here are relaxed and laid back; they enjoy themselves very much without the need of fancy attire. For me it’s very different from the nightlife I experienced back home, and I enjoyed myself very much. It is also a good convention to make more friends and, if you're lucky, have good chats!
Lots of photos, wonderful memories with cool people and a broader understanding of different cultures and the world!
Currently I study communications at my home university and I had heard great things about Amsterdam’s communications program from friends who had previously gone to the University of Amsterdam on exchange. I also had friends in Europe that I had made through high school and university that I wanted to visit. Because Amsterdam is quite central to the rest of Europe, it would allow me to see them quite easily.
Biking in Amsterdam is an experience that can’t be missed. It truly is the easiest way to explore the city and often gets you to your destination faster than tram or bus. On top of that, it allows you to gain independence and confidence in yourself because if you can bike in Amsterdam, you can honestly bike anywhere! And an insider tip: Try the freshly squeezed orange juice from Albert Heijn. It is literally life changing!
In my opinion Amsterdam is a very underrated city. Most people think its infamous for its tolerance for drugs and prostitution, but I have discovered that there is much, much more to the city. It has the feel of a big city but the charm of a smaller one as well. There is so much culture, so many things to do and I always feel comfortable and safe.
I would definitely recommend visiting de Pijp, either for the Albert Cuyp Market, or the various restaurants, cafes and bars. It is a very relaxed and trendy area.
I would recommend joining ISN. It is great to meet people from all over the world, especially during the first week. It is up to you if you want to attend the events throughout the year, but it is good to establish that initial social network. From there, just try to put yourself out there. I joined a field hockey team which allowed me to meet international students as well as Dutch students. There are a lot of options to meet new people.
Because Singapore is a young country and so are Singapore’s Universities, I did want to experience what it is to study at a University with a rich history. After carrying out an extensive research on the University of Amsterdam, I concluded it would certainly enable me to do so. Tracing its roots to the establishment of the Athenaeum Illustre in 1632, this modern University has a very rich history. Moreover, Amsterdam is ideally located in Europe and is a vibrant creative, cultural and business hub. It was ranked 11th out of 200 cities in Mercer’s 2014 global ‘Quality of Living Survey’. Next to that, I can also carry out my tour around Europe by making trips using Amsterdam as the base to start from.
I would recommend people who come over for an exchange to get a one-time personalized museum card because that card gives you access to many museums all over the Netherlands. There are plenty of varieties of museums for you to explore. You do not want to spend extra money to buy a ticket for each museum you visit.
My exchange has given me another home, everlasting friendships and an inspiring network of ideas and individuals that have shown me the importance of international relations. In our world today, we see so much hate perpetrated by stereotyping, ignorance and close-mindedness but the people of Amsterdam and my fellow exchange students have shown me an overwhelming amount of love, acceptance and understanding.
Amsterdam has some incredible parks, so my advice would be to go get some kaas, brood and biertjes with your best mates and go have a picnic. It is a rare occasion for the sun to shine in Amsterdam so when it does take advantage of the opportunity to recharge on Vitamin D.
Yes, the city is gorgeous and the history is rich but the people are what make the city great. Never have I lived in a place where it is common for people to sit and drink five cappuccinos just because they are in no hurry and the conversation isn't over yet. As the Dutch would say they like things to be ‘gezellig’. They want people to feel comfortable and be content in their surroundings. They care about their citizens and I think many countries have a lot they can learn from The Netherlands.
The Exchange Express is a newsletter which contains a selection of student testimonials and experiences. You can download the most recent issues here.
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