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International students

Last updated on 9 January 2023
Extra information for international students.

Practical questions about your stay in the Netherlands

If you have practical questions about your stay in the Netherlands or if you would just like to talk to someone from the International Office, you can come by the Global Room on Tuesday (Outgoing Exchange Team), Wednesday (Incoming Exchange Team) or Thursday (Services Team) between 12:30 and 13:30. The Global Room is located in the Main Building (HG-1A36). 

If you have specific questions, please contact the relevant team within the International Office via the contact details on this page. Are you looking for a checklist for your first days and weeks in Amsterdam? Check this webpage for new international students.

Extra information for international students

  • Healthcare for internationals

    General practitioner (GP)

    The Dutch health care system and how to get access to health care services might be different than what you’re used to. A General Practitioner (GP) is your first point of contact for health care in the Netherlands, as they provide referrals to all specialists and, if necessary, to a hospitalRegistering with a local practice is one of the first things you need to do.

    As an international student at VU Amsterdam, you can register at the University General Practice. In this video we will explain how you can register. More information can also be found in this document

    The Dutch College of GP's and H4i (Healthcare for internationals) recently introduced a new online service GPinfo.nlGPinfo provides online information in English, such as information about the most common health complaints, tips on what you can do yourself if you feel unwell, what to expect from your GP and how to prepare for your GP visit, how the Dutch healthcare system works and what to do if you need other medical expertise.

    Insurance

    Dutch law requires all international students to be properly insured by an internationally recognised insurance agency for the duration of your stay. It is mandatory to have a valid health insurance that covers all of the Dutch health care costs.

    European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

    Please first check carefully whether you already have a valid health insurance that will cover your stay in the Netherlands. If you are an EU student, you can apply for a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from your own insurance company. Click here to find out more about your country’s EHIC application process. Here you can find more information about what EHIC does and does not cover.

    AON Insurance

    You still might need to take out an extra insurance to cover your stay abroad. For international students we offer an exclusive premium package at AON Insurance. This package is especially designed for and recommended by VU Amsterdam. If you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) you can opt for the additional insurance package AON ICS Start+. If you are a non-EU student, you can apply for the AON ICS Complete+ package, which offers an extensive health package. Please find extensive information on this subject here and have a look at the Nuffic website

  • General information about living and working in the Netherlands

    Essential information regarding life in Amsterdam can be found on the I Amsterdam website. It's an official website where you can learn more about settling into life in the Amsterdam Area and read the latest news, whether you're moving to the city region, newly arrived or an established citizen.

    Moving countries can be stressful, and there can be a lot of new customs and processes to get used to before you feel properly settled. The Feeling at Home videos from I Amsterdam aim to give you an introduction to the essentials of the Dutch way of life and building a community in the Netherlands.

    Experience shows that living and studying in the Netherlands for one year costs a student between €1000 and €1,100 per month. Some students manage to spend less, but this of course depends on your own lifestyle.

    If you have any questions about financial matters, including student loans and grants (such as problems with DUO), insurance or social benefits, or you are in need of Financial aid, for example in cases of illness or exceptional family matters, contact our student general counsellors for help (studentendecanen@vu.nl). For more information regarding financial regulations during the COVID-19 crisis, please consult our Study & Corona page on VUweb. EU students may have the opportunity to get a tuition fee loan from the Dutch government. For more information, please consult the website of DUO.

    Are you looking for some tips for working and living in the region? Check out the I Amsterdam website as well. It’s important to note that if you are planning to have a job next to your studies, or do an internship where you earn more than a minimum wage, you need to take out a Dutch health insurance, even if you are covered elsewhere. More information can be found here.

    Are you an international student from the EU?

    If you hold a passport from a country that belongs to the European Union (EU) (with the exception of Croatia), the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, then you are permitted to work in the Netherlands without limitation. If this is not the case, then you are only permitted to work a maximum of 16 hours per week averaged over the year or full-time during the summer months (June, July, August). Your employer will also be required to apply for a work permit. More information can be found on the Nuffic website Working while studying.

  • Being away from home: how to deal with homesickness as an international student

    Homesickness, unfortunately, is a real problem among international students in universities in the Netherlands. Recent studies have shown that a third  of all students have felt depressed or home sick at some point in their university life. And that’s quite understandable: the academic workload may take its toll, or you may not be accustomed to an entirely different cultural and academic environment. At times, students may wish that they were back home, in the company of their loved ones and in their familiar surroundings. And if your home is far away, or if the cultural gap is quite big, it’s even harder. You may recognize some of the stages you find yourself in from the graph listed on this informative page about Culture Shock which indicates the typical stages of culture shock when studying abroad.

    Some tips for warding off homesickness as an international student:

    • Check out the option of becoming a member at one of the student and study associations at VU Amsterdam. There is a variety of organizations to choose from, and some cater specifically to the international student community – joining could be a way to meet others in a similar position;
    • Cooking food that you’re used to eating at home can be a fun way to tackle homesickness. There are plenty of shops in Amsterdam that offer imported produce from all over the world – and it can also be a fun way of introducing your flat mates to a new cuisine;
    • Try to get out of the exchange/international bubble and make friends with local student as well. Having a broad circle will make you feel supported, and it’s a great way of integrating into Dutch society;
    • Spend time with friends and voice your feelings. Many international students consider their friends a surrogate family when they’re away from home;
    • Keep in touch with your family back home. University can be hectic, so make time to keep up connections and to let your loved ones know how you’re doing;
    • Practice self-care. Little acts of kindness towards oneself can make a big difference in your overall happiness and mood. Self-care may vary depending on the person, but think of activities such as cooking, exercising, or practicing meditation;
    • Allow yourself to miss home for a bit. Yes, you might need to focus on your studies, but allowing yourself to express your emotions is a healthier way to cope than bottling it up. Another way of to cope is by journaling, and putting your emotions in writing. As time passes, both approaches have proven to be quite valuable, and you will start feeling more at peace with the idea of being far away from home.
    • And finally, if the suggested methods don’t work, we have a very strong support network at VU Amsterdam and counselling that you can call upon.
  • Bike safety

    Although public transport in Amsterdam is efficient, for most students biking is the best and quickest way to get around. With an extensive network of cycle lanes, bicycle parking everywhere and even traffic lights specifically for bicycles, there is no safer or easier place to cycle than here. We also have an excellent public transport system that makes it easy to travel longer distances. However, it can also be quite challenging for those who are used to biking in a more quiet area or who haven’t done city biking before. In order to prepare you for the hustle and bustle that is Amsterdam bike life, former VU Amsterdam students Thijs and Rendel have created a video to prepare you how to navigate the streets of this city, for example how to cross the tramrails, and how to blend in with the locals cycling-wise – safety first!

  • Drugs and alcohol

    New experiences are part of your student life. For some, this will include the use of alcohol or other drugs. How do alcohol and other drugs work? And what are the effects of them on your brain, memory and study performance? How do you get through your student days without a hangover? What is the Dutch Drug Policy? Where can you test your drugs? And if you're worried about your own or your friend’s alcohol or drug use, where can you go to? Find this and other information on the Jellinek website. Jellinek is the expert in Amsterdam when it comes to alcohol, drugs and addiction. They can answer every question you have about the risks of alcohol, drugs and gambling. In its decades of experience, Jellinek has gained a wealth of knowledge about recreational substances and addiction and offers reliable and non-judgmental information about the risks of alcohol and other drugs. This way, you and your (new) friends can make well-informed choices and get the most out of your student days. Be Smart. Be Safe.

    Jellinek also has a special page dedicated to (international) students and substance use. 

  • Accommodation for internationals

    Our international office can help with arranging accommodation for international degree students. There are furnished and unfurnished rooms with private or shared facilities. The number of rooms available is limited so we cannot guarantee accommodation for every student, but the International Office will do its utmost best to find suitable accommodation for everyone. If you have rented (or would like to rent) a room via the International Office and you have any questions or concerns, please contact the International Office: studentaccomodation@vu.nl.

    VU Amsterdam also offers a Residence Life Programme 

    For those students living in the VU residences of Uilenstede Green Tower, Hoogbouw 1, Hoogbouw 2. The Residence Life Programme has been set up to create a safe, healthy, inclusive environment for international students. Our Resident Assistants are international students living in dorms of VU Amsterdam. They organize activities to help new international students to settle in, to get to know each other and to learn more about Amsterdam and student life. They also offer support in practical and personal matters and can refer to professional support staff of VU Amsterdam and DUWO if required. But they will also be there to just have a nice talk. They will present themselves as soon as you arrive.

    Report Unsafe Housing

    The ASVA Student Union believes that every student deserves to feel safe at home. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. All too often, we hear stories of students who don’t feel safe in their own home. Burglaries, assaults, strangers wandering around  and poorly-lit streets are often heard complaints.

    The ASVA Student Union believes it’s important that these issues are taken seriously by landlords, the municipality and the police. To be able to respond properly and take these issues seriously, we have launched this website where you can report unsafe housing.

    All reports we receive will be handled with the utmost care. If you wish, you can report an incident anonymously. Then we will discuss with involved parties such as your landlord and the police to see how we can prevent these incidents in the future.

    However, if you fill in your name and contact details, we can also keep you updated about what we do with your report, and we might be able to offer you support if you wish. You may also think with us about possible solutions.

    >> IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY, ALWAYS CALL THE POLICE AT 112 <<

    In case of a criminal offence, please also contact the police to report it.

    Social Guide Uilenstede

    This leaflet is the guidepost to organisations and institutions that can offer specific help, support or activities for the residents of Uilenstede.

Associations at VU Amsterdam

Studying in Amsterdam means you can choose from a wide range of study and student associations. There is also a University Student Council and Faculty Student Council to represent you as a student, which you can also become a part of.

More information can be found in the video.

Do you have a question or remark?

Contact the Student Wellbeing Point & Panel

Student Wellbeing Point: studentwellbeingpoint@vu.nl
Mail the Student Wellbeing Point to talk to a Point Peer, ask questions and/or be referred.

Student Wellbeing Panel: studentwellbeingpanel@vu.nl
Mail the Student Wellbeing Panel if you have ideas or recommendations for (new) student wellbeing initiatives at VU Amsterdam.

The Student Wellbeing Point is located on the ground floor of the VU Main Building. You will find our living room right next to the Student Desk. 

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