As an international student you probably only arrived a few days ago and everything in the Netherlands is new to you. Ideally, you have already done some research on what you need to do to settle in well (do read the university information packets!), but you might be completely clueless about how to get started. Don’t worry – this article will inform you about the top 10 things you need to successfully start your Dutch adventure!
- Register at the city municipality – All students who stay in the country for over 4 months need to register with the municipality and get a residence permit. This shouldn’t be too hard – just bring along your passport and your rental agreement/proof of residence to the appointment you make online on https://pki.utrecht.nl/onlinebooking/date-and-time . As a non-EU citizen, you also need to think about informing the IND (Immigration and Neutralisation Service), so make sure you have that sorted!
- Dutch bank account – In the Netherlands, most shops and businesses are not too keen on credit cards. This means that your Visa or MasterCard from home might not work, which is especially true if you want to top up for OV-chipkaart (more on that later). Therefore we advise you to set up a Dutch bank account and get a debit card (pinpas) to avoid having to worry about your card being accepted!
- Cash – Again, even though cards (especially Dutch debit cards) are widely accepted, you do have to pay cash in bars, clubs and even for taxis occasionally. Make sure you always have some cash on you!
- Bike & a reliable lock (or even two!) – As you might have seen already, everyone, and I mean, EVERYONE, cycles in the Netherlands, so it is worth buying your own bike to get to places easily. There are loads of places where you can get a reasonably priced bike, just have a look at http://www.marktplaats.nl/ to find the best deals. However, don’t forget to buy a strong lock with it as well – otherwise you might find yourself without a bike one morning. If you can, double-lock your bike, especially in more frequented areas like the city centre!
- OV-chipkaart – Even if bikes are handy, you will ride the bus/train at some point during your stay, for which you will need the OV-chipkaart that works like an e-purse. You can purchase one of these at any public service desk (e.g. at train stations) and top them up as you go. Careful: never let your balance go under 4 euros, otherwise you won’t be able to get on the bus with it! The minimum balance for trains is even higher, 20 euros, so keep that in mind! Also, if you forget to check out when getting off public transportation, try to get on another bus and check out from there, otherwise they’ll keep charging you!
Hungry for some more ideas? Keep checking our blog because Part II of the most useful tips will be online soon!