I moved to Nijmegen in the Netherlands six months ago and I’ve been in love with the place ever since. Here are my top 10 reasons why you should consider studying in the Netherlands too!
- World class universities
The Netherlands is home to several world class universities and was ranked as the 7th best country in the world for university education in QS’s World University Rankings last year. Many Dutch universities pride themselves on their small class sizes, close relationships between students and tutors and emphasis on collaboration and group work.
- International community
The Netherlands is a popular choice for studying abroad, meaning that the university cities have significant international communities. I’ve loved meeting people from all over the world and learning about their cultures. If you want all the diversity of Leeds but in a new location, the Netherlands is the place for you!
- Dutch cities
There’s more to the Netherlands than Amsterdam! Despite being such a tiny country, there are lots of great cities which offer something unique: Rotterdam is for the hipster art and music fans, Utrecht for the history fans, and beautiful Delft for those who enjoy quaint canals, tea rooms and markets.
- Dutch countryside
There’s also the stunning countryside to explore on foot or by bike such as the Pieterpad, a trail stretching almost the entire length of the Netherlands that thousands of people walk sections of every year. Places in the east of the Netherlands such as Nijmegen also lie incredibly close to the German border, and many people take the lovely rural journey across the border to the quiet German towns of Kranenburg and Kleve.
- Learning Dutch
Linguists say that Dutch is one of the easiest languages to learn for native English speakers as much of it is very similar to English – for example, ‘what is your name?’ is ‘wat is jouw naam?’ in Dutch. Universities usually offer language courses quite cheaply too. I took a course on ‘Social Dutch’ at a discounted cost at my university and feel more confident in asking for directions, ordering food and drinks and catching a bus.
- English speakers
But even if you don’t manage to learn much Dutch, almost everybody in the Netherlands speaks English. This year the Dutch overtook the Danes to be officially ranked as the world’s best non-native English speakers. People are always comfortable to switch languages for you, so you’ll never be left lost or confused!
- Bikes galore!
The Netherlands has an amazing cycling culture as the country is so flat – we go everywhere by bike here. Cycling on the roads is more dangerous in the UK, but bikes and cyclists are respected in the Netherlands as they have priority on the roads.
- Carnivals and festivals
The Dutch love a party and have many carnivals and festivals throughout the year, such as Sinterklaas in December, Carnaval in February and Koningsdag (King’s Day) in April. Most celebrations basically revolve around wearing a crazy outfit and singing, dancing and drinking on the streets.
The Netherlands is renowned for its liberal attitude to several issues in life, especially homosexuality, sex education and gender equality – Amsterdam even has the ‘pink point’, a special LGBTQ+ information centre. I’ve heard that LGBTQ+ students are told to be more cautious when choosing study abroad locations, and the Netherlands is a place where anyone can feel safe and accepted.
Located towards the centre of Europe, it’s often incredibly cheap to travel to other places from the Netherlands. There are several small airports such as Eindhoven that offer cheap flights, a great international train service and the Flixbus, Europe’s answer to the Megabus. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Brussels, Bruges, Berlin, Copenhagen and Cologne last semester, often travelling for as little as 30 euros return.
I hope that you’ll consider the Netherlands for your study abroad adventure, and that wherever you end up you’ll have the best time of your life!
Written by Rachael Vickerman – Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands