Help for Students - the Netherlands

This page is a work in progress. Information is extracted from the Cosmos FAQ as on this page.

The Netherlands is a quite small country with a population of 16.5 million people. It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It measures no more than 300 kilometers north to south and 200 kilometers from west to east. The roads are busy, and so are the inland waterways, while there is also a lot of air traffic. The extensive rail network in The Netherlands enables you to get to all the places of interest quickly and easily. Furthermore there is a great satirical overview of the Netherlands and Dutch Culture in general by Stuff Dutch People Like. The difference between the Netherlands and Holland is explained really well in this video

The Weather

The Netherlands has a maritime climate, so its summers are not tropical and the winters are not extremely cold. The average temperature in The Netherlands is about 3°C in the month of January and 19°C in July, so whilst you can wear light to medium clothing in the summer you will need medium to warm clothing in the winter. For any person living in Netherlands, weather in Netherlands is irritating. Not because it is too cold or it is too warm. Just because it rains almost daily. Umbrella, Rain jackets are really necessary and the shower forecast for you location in the Netherlands can be found here.

The Dutch people

What can I tell you about the Dutch? Of course you will already have many ideas and expectations of what living in The Netherlands will be like. Many stereotypes define the Dutch as weed- smoking, wooden shoes wearing, greedy, tall blonde cheese makers. In fact, the Dutch, don’t smoke half as much weed as all the internationals living here, but they are the tallest people in the world. They long ago gave up on wearing wooden shoes, but it’s true that many of the Dutch are blonde. The part about the greed isn’t true either. When you go to a bar, the Dutch always buy rounds of drinks to share with their friends. If you try to just buy one beer, the bartender might even give you a funny look. Most important thing about them is that they are very straightforward. They either tell you what they feel or they do not feel anything about you. It is always binary.

The Dutch food

Dutch people usually eat at least three times a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. You will notice that there is a lot of bread in the Dutch daily menu. Sandwiches are very popular here for breakfast and lunch, although warm dishes are also available on campus during the day. All in all, The Netherlands has a long history of international relations and this is reflected not only in the way Dutch people communicate with other nations, but also, how they accept the variety of cuisines. So, you can be sure you will find almost everything you need to satisfy your cooking needs in grocery shops or open markets. For the people who are coming from China, India or other sub continents, all the items are available in Netherlands. Rice is available in almost all supermarkets. Eating outside is very costly. It is always better to cook with friends. Best fries (“Friet” in dutch) in Eindhoven and also the whole Netherlands have been voted for 5 years in a row is Friture Martin Zwerts.

Making friends

Many internationals find it hard to start making friends in a new country. On the other hand, it is not that difficult to get to know the Dutch and find some new friends. The Dutch are a very open-minded people, especially in the south of The Netherlands (where you are going to live). Also, the TU/e Common Room was founded by the University to be a place, where university’s community (Both International and National) can hang out, so what else can one ask for making friends?

Other useful tips

When first getting to know the Dutch, it might be wise to know a couple of things up front:

  • The Dutch avoid superlatives. Compliments are offered sparingly, and to say that something is ‘not bad’ is to praise it. You do not need to worry too much about expressing your opinion or feelings. The Dutch might argue with you, but seldom take offence.
  • When you first meet somebody, you generally shake hands. After that, it is common to give 3 kisses on the cheek. Hugging people you hardly know might be misinterpreted or make people uncomfortable.
  • The Dutch speak directly and use a lot of eye contact. To you this might appear abrupt, but it is just their manner of communicating.
  • Smoking is prohibited in many areas. Always ask before lighting a cigarette.
  • Do not discuss money or prices or ask personal questions when you hardly know someone.
  • The Dutch highly appreciate it that people arrive on time and it is even common to arrive a few minutes earlier.
  • So always be on time! Also during the TU/e Introduction Program

Visa

 If you are outside an EU/EEA country, you will most likely need a Visa to come to the Netherlands. Up to date information regarding Visas can be found on studyinholland.nl

Language

We recommend you to learn dutch, because this will open a door to understand and communicate with the dutch people better. You will get in touch with the culture. Since you will live here, you need to know upon what beliefs and cultural aspects have shaped the country as it is today. However, the Netherlands is one of the few European countries where you don’t necessarily need to know the language to do your everyday communication. Almost everybody speaks at least some English, even the cashier in the supermarkets. However, it is helpful to learn some basic Dutch for daily situations, it will also come in handy for applying for a job later on. The Dutch people will appreciate your effort.

"Where can I learn Dutch?"

  1. TU/e offers Dutch courses (beginner, intermediate and advanced) for free. You can search and sign up for these course on OASE;
  2. You can arrange lessons with local language schools;
  3. Hire a tutor and get tete-a-tete lessons in private;
  4. Subscribe to local Dutch news channels on Youtube (edtvnl, Omroep Brabant, Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid, mastermilo82, Consumentenbond, Stichting Trudo, Gemeenteraad Eindhoven and etc.), so at the same time one can get some local news and learn Dutch through interpretation of visual information;
  5. Dutch news radio stations like: “BNR Nieuwsradio” is also a good resource;
  6. MP3 audio books from book2.de is a good resource for learning trough language learning audio. It has large database in many languages;
  7. “Hoi Holland!” App was introduced by Study in Holland that allows one to get some basic Dutch language knowledge in a matter of days.