The Netherlands

Another gorgeous location to take part in an exchange. Lucky University of Auckland students have the option to study at one of three universities in the Netherlands: The University of Amsterdam (including Law), University of Groningen and Utrecht University (including Law).

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Let’s hear what our students have to say!

“A land without hills; a flat landscape interconnected by fearless cyclists, UNESCO status canal rings, Albert Heijn supermarkets – with their mélange of delights (and sometimes free coffee), places to buy coffee and the less-than-discrete coffee shops, markets selling artisanal produce alongside mass-produced tourist knickknacks, free ferries that deliver you to the north side of the city, and topped off with relentless bike thieves that cunningly whisk locked bikes away during the day or night… I arrived in Amsterdam in anticipation, not knowing what to expect from this foreign city with such a big international reputation.” – Zoe Dunster, The University of Amsterdam

“Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. At night, the tall, narrow buildings are reflected in the canals and watch you as you walk by. There are little lights dotting the edge of the canal bridges. It reminded me of Cinderella.” – Sally Wu, The University of Amsterdam

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“Studying abroad is a great opportunity for so many reasons, I am very glad that I chose Amsterdam as the place to go to. First, the city is full of life, there are so many interesting and unique parts to it; it is hard to explore the maze of canals in a few short months. Amsterdam is not the most affordable student city but student accommodation definitely lowers the price and you can generally find good deals in most supermarkets and can find affordable yet delicious eat out options. The variety of cultures within the city is reflected in its wide range of food, drinks, clothing and entertainment options, there are always an endless stream of experiences to be found.” – Grace Bendek Rooney, The University of Amsterdam

Bikes, Bikes, Bikes…

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“Amsterdam has great public transport and cycling is very easy due to the flat land and bicycle lanes.” – Grace Bendek Rooney, The University of Amsterdam

“After initially being overwhelmed by the number of bikes in Amsterdam, I soon loved my daily cycle to class.” – Elizabeth Vincent, The University of Amsterdam

“Biking in Amsterdam was chaotic, scary, fun, and liberating once you learn how to ride like the Dutch.” – Sally Wu, The University of Amsterdam

“Two pieces of advice I would give to anyone going on exchange to Amsterdam would be: watch out for bicycles when walking around the city and buy a bike as soon as possible and to go exploring.” – Matthew Marinovich, The University of Amsterdam

“I cycled to the University on cobblestoned streets lined with buildings older than my country, and engaged in interactive classes represented by a diverse range of nationalities.” – Jeroen De Vries, Utrecht University

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On orientation:

“The University of Amsterdam held an orientation day and dropped us all off to our separate accommodation. Mine was the furthest away from the city centre, but turned out to work the best for me. From there, the International Student Network (ISN) held an opening weekend where we were put into groups and taken through activities and parties for the first three days on exchange. This was definitely one of the highlights and I would highly recommend joining a student network if you do choose to go abroad. Most of the people in my group here I ended up staying in contact with for the rest of the semester, and even after returning to New Zealand’ – Chris Kolston, The University of Amsterdam

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“I was able to meet some students (Dutch and International) at the orientation and events run by the ISN (International Student Network) and in my classes. I was also able to meet local people and some professionals in the Tech industry by attending local Meetups by using meetup.com.” – Grace Bendek Rooney, The University of Amsterdam

“I did get involved with the international student network – there was a week of activities, day trips to pancake boats, parties… The friends that I met would be the ones I sat around with at informal dinner parties, with wine and cheese.” -Sally Wu, The University of Amsterdam

“The first week I was in Amsterdam I took part in the university’s exchange introduction (orientation) week. This was a fantastic week and I would highly recommend signing up for it. Along with a visit to the university’s 3 main locations we also went to the zoo, on a canal cruise, a pub crawl and a comedy club. This week was also great as I met several people in my courses and other Dutch students who shared their insider knowledge on living in Amsterdam.” –  Matthew Marinovich, The University of Amsterdam

On housing:

“I was staying in the Rode Kruislaan residence organised by the university which was about 25 minutes bike ride from central Amsterdam. It was simple accommodation and had around 150 students staying within the 5 apartment buildings. Right away I met my neighbours – a Swiss law student and a Dutch biology student. We cooked together – our favourite was Dutch savoury pancakes with bacon and Gouda cheese.” – Matthew Marinovich, The University of Amsterdam

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On courses:

“The university courses were challenging but interesting, and the calibre of students and professors were excellent. The work is predominately self-driven (in the law faculty at least), with less class time and more focus on individual preparation. Similar to our summer school, semesters are broken into two blocks of 6 weeks, with no study break before exams. Most courses at the law faculty are only taught in English, even for the Dutch students, which means that most classes are not just international students – which is great if you want to make local friends.” – Elizabeth Vincent, The University of Amsterdam

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“Nostalgia for my homeland took a back seat as I entered into my Social Science courses and I began to make connections and friendships within the array of international and Dutch students. These growing groups of friends become the backbone of my exchange, serving as a perfect tonic to 6000-word essay deadlines and days full of two-hour classes. We took advantage of the super-efficient national train service, making day trips to other cities, beaches, forests and islands throughout the Netherlands. Over the year, Amsterdam began to feel like a village – with most galleries, cafes, bars and music venues less than 20mins cycle away. I slowly began to learn basic supermarket and hospitality conversations in Dutch, however I never progressed much further (one of my regrets) as English was resorted to so quickly, in accordance with Dutch efficiency.” – Zoe Dunster, The University of Amsterdam

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“My psychology studies involved a lecture and several required readings per course each week. It felt similar to the amount of study I would put into an average course at Auckland. The courses were very interesting and I thought the Motivation course was in my top 5 favourite courses of my bachelors.” – Matthew Marinovich, The University of Amsterdam

“Although the study itself was structured differently (one semester is cut in half!), the university was welcoming towards exchange students, and in all of the courses I took, and the majority of the students were international. Amsterdam city in general is very international; I met people from USA, Spain, China, Sweden, Australia, and even Dunedin! Meeting people was the thing I was most worried about, but the thing that came the easiest while living in Amsterdam. Every other exchange student is in the same boat as you, so everyone is super friendly and wants to be your friend.” – Chris Kolston, The University of Amsterdam

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“The academic experience of studying in Utrecht was a memorable opportunity to observe how universities operate in a different country. I cycled to the University on cobblestoned streets lined with buildings older than my country, and engaged in interactive classes represented by a diverse range of nationalities. As a centre for international human rights law, I was able to hear from interesting guest speakers including the national director for Amnesty International. I also had the opportunity to visit the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague” – Jeroen De Vries, Utrecht University

On travel:

“The best thing is that, with these new friends, you can then travel around Europe! Amsterdam is quite central in Europe and there are often cheap flights to places like Stockholm, Barcelona, London, Berlin etc. The public transport around Europe also makes travelling very easy, so not much planning is required.” –  Chris Kolston, The University of Amsterdam

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“Due to the location of Amsterdam in Europe, it is remarkably easy to travel to and from. Trains run regularly and you can usually find relatively affordable flight options too. During my time there I visited a number of different cities and towns in Germany, UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Austria and Italy.  I had a fantastic time on exchange and if you are presented the opportunity to go, you should leap at it.” – Grace Bendek Rooney, The University of Amsterdam

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Top Tips:

“The high prices for living in the city became less daunting over time as I learnt the city shortcuts; owning a bike with a good lock saves a fortune on transport, get an OV-chipkaart for those trips to the airport, find Facebook groups/events for collectives that save food from shops before it goes in the bin, and definitely buy a museumkaart, which costs a bit but lasts a year and allows you to visit an extensive list of galleries and museums across the Netherlands for free! I left my Amsterdam home with teary eyes, but grateful that I had been able to see the city in the colours of every season, that I had also learnt more about the way Anthropology is taught and made relevant to the Netherlands and Europe and that I, miraculously, never got my bike tyre caught in the tram tracks, or fell in any canals.” –  Zoe Dunster, The University of Amsterdam

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“Amsterdam has a wide array of fantastic cultural activities (museums, galleries, libraries). Buy a museumkaart and visit one of the many museums – from the Cheese Museum, the Cow Museum to the Anne Frank House or the huge state museum (Rijksmuseum). There are fresh produce markets on every week with food, tulips and crafts on offer. It is very easy to eat too many stroopwaffels and your weight in cheese (Dutch people take cheese seriously!) The population in Amsterdam is generally quite young, so great new cafes, bars and restaurants open frequently. I would recommend Amsterdam as an exchange destination to anyone. The people are friendly, the food is excellent, the university is top-quality and travelling is easy.” – Elizabeth Vincent, The University of Amsterdam

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