A guide to living in the Netherlands for Erasmus students
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University comes with many exciting opportunities, one notable example being the Erasmus programme. The Erasmus programme is the perfect chance for students across Europe to get a change of scenery for one or two semesters and study in a different country in the EU – whilst still receiving the usual funding from their home countries. Now, if you’re a student in Britain who wants a break from trekking up hills and sitting in traffic jams, then you could always study in the Netherlands for a few months as part of your degree (provided your university offers this, of course). If this sounds like a good idea, then you should read this guide to get you to grips with a few of the little differences that the Dutch have to the British: Liability Insurance Before we move onto the more interesting factors of moving to the Netherlands, it is important to get the paperwork out of the way first. Now, if you’re tight-fisted and irresponsible with your belongings, then liability insurance is just something your parents have to protect their high definition television and expensive set of ornaments. But in the Netherlands, this is compulsory by law. Called an AVP policy (AVP being the acronym of a really long set of words which translate to Liability Insurance for Individuals), you will likely be asked to provide a copy of this for your landlord or estate agent before they let you move into a property. In some cases, your estate agent or landlord may not be able to translate this for you - when questioning one estate agent on this, they explained it as the “insurance that you must have if you don’t want to pay 6,000 Euros to call the fire brigade out” – so make sure you question it. You can get this through an insurance company, such as AON, or one of the local banks, and you’re looking at paying around 80 Euros for five months. Register as a citizen If you’re going to be living in the Netherlands for longer than four months, then you will need to register with the Municipal Personal Records Database. You are expected to register within the first five days of your arrival (although plenty of international students take a lot longer than that without any hassle). To do this, you must download a BRP registration form (you can find this on a local authority’s website or your university’s), fill it out, book an appointment online and then take it to the city hall along with your passport and a proof of stay document (i.e. an accommodation contract). Once you have completed all this, you will be sent a BSN number in the post. Once the BSN number has arrived (this can take around two weeks) you are officially a Dutch citizen and you can open a student bank account and sign up for a Dutch phone contract. Cycling Now, onto something more fun. With a reputation for being such a flat country, it is no surprise that cycling is the most popular mode of transport. Getting a bicycle will not only be useful, but part of the cultural experience. To get a cheap bike from a shop, you’re looking at paying around 100 – 150 Euros, but there are plenty of pages on social media where you can buy bikes from local people who are selling. Make sure you don’t buy a ludicrously cheap bike from somebody in the street, otherwise you will risk a confrontation with a disgruntled bicycle owner or a criminal prosecution. If somebody offers you a bicycle for 10 Euros on a night out, chances are it has been stolen. If you don’t want to buy a bicycle because you’re hard-up, live close to everything or just don’t see the point in owning one for four or five months, then it’s ok - you won’t be shunned and outcasted as a non-cyclist. Bins A peculiar one on this guide, but important to know if you suddenly find your flat filling up with bin bags. To dispose of rubbish in the Netherlands, you should be issued with a keycard from your landlord, estate agent or housemates. If not, get onto one of the three aforementioned people about this.
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