When you arrive

What to do when you first arrive in Amsterdam

Your first days and weeks in Amsterdam will be filled with new experiences, new people and a few practical considerations too. Below, we have compiled more information to help you get started. 

First arrival in the Netherlands
Amsterdam's airport is called 'Amsterdam Airport Schiphol', and is located in the south-west of Amsterdam. Schiphol created a special landing page with commonly asked questions about travel through the airport, and measures that are currently in place to protect travellers due to the COVID-19 virus. We strongly advise you to read this FAQ before traveling to the country.

Public transport
From Schiphol, you can easily travel to VU Amsterdam's campus, or to your student accommodation. In the Netherlands, it is still mandatory to wear a non-medical face mask when using public transport, so make sure to bring one. 

In order to use public transport, you will need a public transport card ('OV chipkaart' in Dutch). It’s easy to buy and top up this rechargeable card at the yellow NS ticket machines at all railway stations, including Schiphol. At Schiphol you will find the machines at the central meeting hall, which is called Schiphol Plaza. After you purchased the card and topped it up with some money, you can immediately start using public transport. More information about public transport in the Netherlands can be found here.

These directions have Schiphol as the starting point. In case you arrive somewhere else (for example train station Amsterdam Central), please use the 9292 app (available in English) to plan your route. You can find it in the iOS App Store or Google Play Store.

Key pick-up 
Once you’ve arrived in Amsterdam, the first thing you want to do, is pick up the keys to your new home. At a later time, we will inform you how and where you can pick up your key.

Your first days
During your first days in the city, there are some practical matters to take care off. We created an overview with the steps you need to take, which can be found below. Below these steps is also an overview with other useful information.

Practical information

If you will stay in the Netherlands for more than four months, then you need to register with the local authorities, also called the municipality. If you are going to live at student campus Uilenstede, you need to register at the municipality of Amstelveen.

More information about registering with the municipality can be found here.

You will need to have an IBAN bank account in order to arrange your day-to-day activities in the Netherlands. As an EU/EEA student, you do not need a Dutch bank account. If you are a non-EU/EEA student, you need to make an appointment at a bank office in order to get a student account.

More information about setting up a bank account can be found here.

It is important that you are properly insured during your time in the Netherlands. To simplify the business of arranging suitable insurance during your time in the Netherlands, it is advisable to consult your current insurance company and explain that you will be studying abroad for a semester or an entire academic year.

More information about possible insurances can be found here.

As a student at VU Amsterdam living in Amsterdam, you will be able to register with the GP at the University General Practice (located in the VU Medical Center on our campus) once you have a valid health insurance. More information can be found on their website. If you live outside of Amsterdam, you can look for a GP close to your home.

More information about health care in the Netherlands can be found here.

Our Introduction team will arrange several online activities in order to help you become acquainted with the city of Amsterdam and the university campus, to get to know your fellow students and of course to have fun! The online introduction week will take place between 24-26 August.

Attendance is not mandatory. However, we strongly advise you to participate in the introduction week. Reasons include: 

  • Good start of your social life in the Netherlands; 
  • Smooth and simple way to deal with all practicalities; 
  • A way to get well informed about what's coming ahead before starting you study programme; 
  • Gives you some time to make Amsterdam your home before you busy student life really kicks off.

More information about the Introduction week can be found via this link.

In our Getting Started guide you can find contact details and general information about studying at VU Amsterdam. We invite you to take a look at it! Please note that this guide was created before the COVID-19 situation.

Getting Started 2020-2021

Benefit from this tailor-made online preparation programme to build your academic confidence! 

The Jumpstart programme is specifically designed for Master’s students starting an international programme at VU Amsterdam. You’ll get a customized preparation package that provides you a smooth start at our university. Our primary goal is to help you feel properly equipped for your next academic experience. More information can be found here.

Experience shows that living and studying in the Netherlands for one year costs a student between €900 and €1,700 per month (not including tuition fees). Some students manage to spend less, but this of course depends on your own lifestyle.

Some rules apply when you work in the Netherlands during your studies. More information about the average costs per month, rules and regulations and tax can be found here.

During your stay you will have access to VUnet, the internal network of VU Amsterdam. You will be sent login details during the process of preparing for your arrival. It is important that you familiarise yourself with VUnet, as a great deal of important information is only available via this network. Registration for courses etc is also carried out via VUnet.

Canvas is the digital learning environment from VU Amsterdam. It is a tool that supports our education and is used by both students and teacher. You can log into Canvas with your VUnet-ID, or through VUnet. For students, there is a VU Canvas Student Guide available that show you how to work with Canvas. You can also watch a short video about the system.

Would you like to learn Dutch to help you feel more at home on campus? Of course you do! Luckily, VU-NT2 offers two course modules (8 weeks per level) of the Basic Dutch on Campus course at a greatly reduced rate for international students. You will learn to introduce yourself, do some shopping, order a meal and chat with local students and teachers. Finished the course? Then you receive a ‘Basic Dutch on Campus’ certificate. Check out the website of VU-NT2 for more information.

Students-4-Students@VU offers various programs to students who find it difficult to engage with VU or when things aren’t working out as planned. The programs offered are:

• Study partner
• Studying Together
• Studying & children
• Studying with ASD

For more information please check Students-4-Students@VU page.