What is it like to study in The Netherlands? This progressive country has a peaceful, modern culture with a landscape that makes every weekend feel like a vacation. Students studying abroad in the Netherlands will have no trouble finding quaint cafes in which to study or museums to wander if they value study breaks over study sessions!
Why study in the Netherlands?
Look no further for the most student-friendly country. In Amsterdam, the many bike paths and pedestrian-only cobblestone streets are the perfect place to hang out, be outside, and be inspired. It’s widely known to be one of the best cities to study abroad in Europe!
The lesser known (but equally charming) city of Leiden is a multicultural university town you never knew you wanted to discover—now you know! If you want a quintessential Netherlands experience, immerse yourself in the centuries old architecture of Leiden, complete with picture-perfect windmills and canals.
The Hague sounds like a medieval fortress and that’s not far from the truth. The third-largest city in the Netherlands is home to the royal family and boasts medieval architecture, gardens, and parks that offer the perfect setting for spreading a blanket and delving into a good book.
Study abroad in the Netherlands and you’ll come away with a tremendous educational experience, a better grasp of what life is like in a European country, and friends you’ll most likely go back to visit again and again! So, why study in the Netherlands? Why not?
Here are some further pros to studying abroad in the Netherlands, along with a few cons, to consider prior to packing your bags.
11 pros and cons of studying in the Netherlands
1. Pro: Attend established and renowned universities
From English-taught full-year and masters programs to short-term summer study programs, the universities and organizations that will host your Netherlands study abroad experience offer it all. These world renowned, top-ranked institutions draw students from around the world who go on to work in international business, medicine, social sciences, and more.
The Dutch education system compared to the American is a bit more relaxed in regards to class assignments but more strict in regards to grading. It’s often difficult to attain high marks, and you get fewer assignments than you would in an American school.
However, if you are aware of this and thoroughly prepare for examinations and large projects, your Dutch education will definitely boost your resume.
2. Pro: Enjoy a truly multicultural atmosphere
The majority of Dutch people are open-minded, liberal, and accepting of other people and cultures. This makes the Netherlands attractive to people from all walks of life. You’ll hear many languages being spoken (especially in tourist-popular Amsterdam), but Dutch is the official language.
While you’ll probably be taking courses in English during your Netherlands study abroad experience, it won’t be difficult to pick up a bit of the lingua franca if you put your mind to it. Just make sure your Dutch friends don’t switch to their remarkable English while having conversations with you!
3. Con: It may be difficult to learn Dutch
It’s no secret that the Dutch are amazing linguists. While it may be easier to navigate a new culture where almost everyone you encounter will speak English (and probably one or two other languages as well), it won’t lend to your practicing Dutch, so you’ll want to make sure to try to pick it up where you can!
4. Pro: Take affordable adventures
It’s easy to travel around the Netherlands by bike, train, or automobile. The beautiful towns of Haarlem and Volendam, Delft and Groningen, among others, make excellent weekend trips for those seeking colorful houses, picturesque canals, and more windmills!
Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands, is great for museum-goers and seekers of iconic sights, like the Erasmusbrug. It’s also second only to Amsterdam where nightlife is concerned!
For those more interested in natural beauty, a trip to the Keukenhof Gardens will leave you breathless. Known as the “Garden of Europe”, this paradise is the second largest flower garden on the planet.
The Netherlands is also centrally located, with many other hot European destinations just a quick plane or train ride away. Hop on a flight to the south of France for spring break, or finally get to Germany for Oktoberfest! When you study abroad in the Netherlands, Europe is at your doorstep.
5. Con: Bring your umbrella…
The above-mentioned Netherlands adventures may be dampened a bit (pun intended) by the weather, which is notoriously rainy. The Dutch take rainy days in stride, never pausing to hop on their bikes but with some extra rain gear in tow.
Knowing what to pack before you study abroad in the Netherlands will help you handle the weather, but if you need vitamin D in your life, maybe you’ll want to consider a summer program. But hey, as mentioned, you can always take a long weekend to soak up some rays in Spain or Italy!
6. Pro: Stroopwafels…need I say more?
One of the most delicious pros to studying abroad in the Netherlands is the stroopwafel. This cookie/pastry can best be described as two thin layers of waffle sandwiching a sweet, syrupy inner filling. It makes the perfect study snack!
Other popular Dutch foods include kroket (deep fried meat-filled rolls), kaas (Dutch cheese), patat (thick fries with a variety of toppings), bitterballen (fried balls with meat filling), and poffertjes (mini, fluffy pancakes).
If this doesn’t have your stomach rumbling already, the Dutch also enjoy sausages, hearty soups and stews, and for those with a bit of a sweet tooth, licorice!
7. Con: The Dutch mindset
The Dutch people can take some getting used to. Theirs is a culture that values freedom above all else, perhaps more than Americans! This includes freedom of expression, and you’ll notice they may not pay much attention to you. So, you do you!
If you’re a laid back, go-with-the-flow kind of person, the Netherlands is the place for you. The Dutch don’t let the weather get them down and rarely cancel plans because of it. Adaptable, confident, and collected, the Dutch know who they are and are proud of it.
These attitudes carry over to teaching and learning styles. You’ll be asked to problem-solve independently and also in groups. The art of working together and collective thinking is highly valued. The Dutch education system compared to American is a bit more egalitarian, with students and teachers being regarded as equals.
Why study in the Netherlands? You’ll be taught how to form your own opinion after researching the topic and asking other’s opinions. You’ll work with other students to approach problems from different perspectives, and come out a stronger person because of it.
8. Pro: Cheap housing for students—hooray!
While you may have to find housing independently, it will most likely be affordable. You may also be living with other international students, which can be very exciting and rewarding. You could potentially get a housing subsidy which will go a long way. Maybe add those savings to your weekend travel budget?
9. Pro: Bikes are everywhere and you WILL need one
When you arrive in the Netherlands, you may be shocked at the abundance of bikes! Especially noticeable in Amsterdam, most people get around on eco-friendly, convenient bicycles.
There are bike racks and bike paths galore. There are options to rent bikes for an extended period of time, which may be perfect due to your temporary student status. You can also purchase a used bike quite easily—just make sure to always lock it up!
10. Con: Biking rain or shine
While this can also be a pro as described above, you’ll depend on your bike for transportation regardless of the weather! And starting out, especially if you’re a beginner, may be intimidating; the Dutch are excellent bikers and there are rules of the road you need to follow, just as you would in a car. Definitely invest in a helmet!
11. Pro: Make international friendships that last a lifetime
It won’t be difficult to find a biking buddy. Students come from over 190 different countries to study in the Netherlands and you’ll be meeting all types of people. You’ll make international connections that will benefit you for years to come, all while making memories you’ll be telling to your grandchildren (unless they happened in the red light district…).
Ready to take the next step? Get matched with study abroad programs in the Netherlands!
What is it like to study in the Netherlands? That’s for you to find out!
How are those for study abroad in the Netherlands tips? Pros and cons of studying in the Netherlands can be viewed in different lights, a con to some may be a pro to others! Either way, the pros far outweigh the cons, in our humble opinion.
We hope you discovered what it’s like to study abroad in the Netherlands—the rest is up to you! Don’t forget to pick a program that ticks all of your boxes. With a backdrop like the Netherlands, you really can’t go wrong!