5 important things you need to know before coming to the Netherlands (as a student)

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There may be 1001 things you wanna know before starting your new journey in the Netherlands, but it’s IMPOSSIBLE to know something well when you’re not there yet. Instead of worrying, why don’t you get some basic but QUALITY information? I am going to share with you 5 important things you should know before coming to the Netherlands to study.

1.BSN number

Burgerservicenummer (BSN) is the citizen service number that everyone needs once they live in the Netherlands. Without this number, you CANNOT open a bank account, change your address or use the healthcare system in this country.

You will receive a BSN number when you register at a Dutch city hall (a gemeente), and this should be done within 5 days of your arrival.

Usually your university will help you with all these steps together with the other students in the first week. If you arrive earlier or later than the introduction week, you should contact your school to ask for an advice.

After getting this number, make sure to save it on your phone or a document, in case you need it!;)

2.Bank account

After getting a BSN number, you can open a Dutch bank account. With a local bank card, you can easily pay for everything such as food, transport, living, utilities and other bills.

Living in the Netherland is NOT as safe as you think. NEVER keep a lot of cash with you, otherwise you will lose it (I learned a pricey lesson in the first year living here T_T). Therefore, it would be the best if you could open a bank account as soon as you can.

There are 3 Dutch banks which are popular for international students: ABN Amro, ING Bank, and Rabobank. You can check google map to see which bank is near your house. Before going to the bank, you need to bring some necessary documents:

  • BSN number
  • Valid passport or ID
  • Proof of enrollment at the university

I chose ING Bank because it was close to my house and I could get the card immediately. After opening the account, remember to ask the bank staff how you can access it online.

3.Public transportation

You may need to use public transportation to go to school or get around in the Netherlands. Tickets can be purchased at the stations but having a OV-chipkaart will be much more convenient. You can use this card for train, tram, metro, bus and water bus throughout the Netherlands.

After having a bank account and home address, you can order a personal OV-chipkaart on this website. The card will be sent to your house within 1 week.

On NS website, you can check the train timetable and choose a season ticket to add to your card. Using season tickets, the price may be cheaper if you travel often by public transportation.

You may need this: The Dutch’s Festivals Calendar

4.Where to buy a cheap bike

Welcome to the Netherlands, welcome to the bike wonderland!!!

Haha you definitely know about this before you decide to study here. SURVIVAL TIPS: cheap bike, good lock. Yes, if you don’t want your bike get stolen, NEVER buy a bike above €80 and a lock less than €10.

After you’re done with all the important papers, it’s time to search for a bike. The Dutch bicycles are usually big (yea they’re giants), and instead of using handbrakes, most of the bikes only have footbrakes. This is quite annoying to ride the bike and it may take you more than 1 month to get used to with it.

You can search for a bike on:

Be careful with the scammers on the internet. Do not transfer money before getting the bike. Check the bike carefully before buying it.

5.Where to buy essential stuff

At the beginning when you’re not familiar with the roads yet, you can just shop in the stores near your house or search for the way to the city center.

Once you’re confident with the directions, you can start looking for some specific stores for the things you need. For example, I bought many stuff in Action (kitchen appliances, clothes hangers, stationery items) because of the reasonable prices.

Here the list of the supermarkets and shops that you can find everywhere in the Netherlands:

I know it’s not easy to start a new life in a new country, but things take time, just be patient:)! Steps by steps, you’ll be familiar with everything. Let me know if you have more questions, I’ll help you as much as I can.

You may need this: 5 good part-time job for international students in the Netherlands

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Hi! I am Nhu, a Vietnamese girl living in the Netherlands. I have been living in 3 countries and traveled to 23 countries and still counting. Hopefully, with my blog, I can spread the inspiration to get you moving. If you already own itchy foot, then here comes the useful tips and advice on the interesting destinations that you may visit someday. Stay tuned!

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