Moving to the Netherlands

Moving to the Netherlands

article by Linh Nguyen
2nd- year student at Creative Business HU


Coming to the Netherlands was THE BIGGEST decision I ever made at such a young age. It took me such a long time to finally come to my final decision. In this article, I would like to share my experience of how I came to the decision of studying in the Netherlands: what was taken into consideration; expectation vs reality;  some final tips for actions to take when moving abroad.

1. The Netherlands

I have always known I wanted to study abroad for my bachelor’s!

Why? We are living in such an amazing globalized world, where moving across the globe has never been easier. It’s such an incredible opportunity to broaden not only your knowledge but also your view on the world, to live independently and to experience a whole new life by yourself! So the real question here is, why not?

Why the Netherlands? I believe this really depends on an individual’s preference and situation. However, for me, my initial ideas were that I wanted to live in Europe and I wanted to have my bachelor in English. I took a lot of time researching which country I want to go to since a lot of European countries have courses offered in English. The Netherlands, for whatever reason, stood out to me.

Expectations? If you google the Netherlands, most of the pictures you are likely to see are old buildings, streets full of lights, tulip fields or beautiful canals. I read a lot of articles on how life in the Netherlands is like and watched many Youtube videos on what you need to know before moving to this country. I remember my impression of the Netherlands was what a calm but vibrant place, friendly, but professional and most importantly a safe country to live in.

Reality? After 2 years of living here, I can confidently say I did my research well, my life here is not much different than what I expected and if anything, it is even better. I have a somewhat balanced work and personal life, I go out mostly during the weekends. Dutch people are respectful and open-minded. Utrecht particularly gives me a great feeling of safety as I don’t feel highly alerted even if I go out late at night (but of course being careful is always better).

What could have I done better? I was not proactive while conducting my research. I personally didn’t know anyone who studied in the Netherlands at the time, so the only thing I could do was look it up on the internet. However, what I could have done was join groups for international students (or Vietnamese students in my case) living in the country and ask them more questions regarding the education system and life here. My university even scheduled a Skype call for me with a Dutch student so I could get to know more, but I only asked questions about the study programme and the school but not about living in Utrecht, for example. I would recommend prospective students to reach out to people, be curious and stay informed just so you will lower the chance of getting a culture shock.

2. The university and my study programme

As you are considering moving to a whole new country to pursue a better education, which university and which study program you want to follow should be taken into consideration fundamentally. This was my main focus while doing my research. What were my requirements? Preferred major, school and life quality.


Preferred major? At first, I was conflicted between marketing and communication. And funny how it all worked out when I found out HU offers Creative Business which covers both of the subjects I love (plus the media side). Not to mention, if you are also curious about how businesses work, CB would also equip you with foundation knowledge on how a business is structured and how to start your own company. There is a mixture of theoretical and practical courses in combination with many workshops and diverse assignments. All of these really drew my attention because I needed an active and down-to-earth study.

School system? I wanted a more practical study rather than a theoretical study and that was the reason why I went for a University of Applied Sciences.

*Every information you may need regarding HU and Creative Business can be found here. To see how the student life is like, you can check it out here.

Life quality? This depends on the individual. In my case, I am definitely more of a city girl, I enjoy the fun, busy, fast-paced lifestyle so one of my priorities was to live in a bigger city, not a small town. I was looking mostly into schools in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag and Utrecht.


I am 100% happy with my choice – majoring in Creative Business at HU. My courses are arranged exactly the way they were presented on the school website. The only surprise I had (which is a good one) is that Creative Business is much more futuristic than what I could have expected. The courses are designed to force you to think ahead of the future, predict trends and learn plenty of IT skills. I love the fact that CB is preparing me for ‘jobs that do not exist yet‘.  The study is also really close to real life: I was able to work with real-life cases for real companies. All of these experiences were super inspiring and gave me a sneak-peak into the real world. Not to mention, Utrecht is simply great, it is such a lively student city with many cafes to visit, restaurants to try out and parties to go to.

*You may or may not know this, but Utrecht has a central location and actually is the biggest train hub in the Netherlands which makes it so easy for you to travel back and forth to another city (Amsterdam is only 30 mins away!)

3. Expenses

Money is a major factor which going to affect your decision to study abroad. It is really important for every student to make sure you (or your family) have the ability to support yourself throughout your study time. I personally had as an aim to study somewhere that is not too overpriced, and I can live quite comfortably (as much as possible, as we are all broke students). This played an important role when I decided to study in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Expectations vs Reality

I knew from the beginning that the Netherlands was not a cheap country to live in. The currency difference (Euro – Vietnamese Dong) is 1EUR = 27.000VND so believe me when I say WOW, money is really a whole different deal here.

However, I do have to say I was still taken aback by the actual living expenses here. For international students (not in the EU), the tuition would be more than 8.000 euros/ year (this I already knew). But what I didn’t know was how competitive the housing market was and how expensive was transportation. For a room in a shared apartment, do expect to pay from 300EUR to 650EUR (keep in mind it is super difficult to get a room in the Netherlands, in general, so start early. Transportation is more expensive than in other EU countries, but you do get what you pay for: trains and buses are fairly clean and on time here.

“When there is a will, there is a way.”

Although it is a bit more expensive than what I had in mind, I still believe it is the price I’m willing to pay for what a good life I have right now and how much I’m enjoying the country. There are many ways you can save/ earn more money during your study time (I would elaborate on this in my next blog article so stay tuned).

4. Practical Actions to Take

Get your paperwork ready: You can do this yourself or go through an educational agency. Have all your papers prepared and pay attention to all the deadlines of the universities of your choice. Even when you move abroad, you will have to take some important papers with you. Have a specific place to keep all these documents and scan all of them onto your phone/ drive.

Prepare your medications: everybody knows this but I want to remind you all again to take this seriously. Even if you are young, healthy and in shape, you don’t know what could happen in the future (take the case of the COVID-19 pandemic that is happening right now)! You know what meds work for you and you should always have the essentials (fever, pain killers, coughing, etc.).

Look into the transportation: How far is it from the airport/ train station to your place? How are you going to get there? It can be super scary for a new student to move to a new country not knowing how to move around. You should look into this before moving there: can you go by train/ bus? Can you get an uber? Is there anyone who can pick you up?

Take pictures of your room as soon as you get there: Usually, when you get a new room, you will have to pay a deposit just in case you break anything around the house. It is important to remember to take as many pictures as possible of every corner of your room and house (especially if you live an older house). Things may go south when you move out and you would really want to prove if this is the current state of the room when you first move in. You really don’t want to lose your deposit over something that is not your fault!

In conclusion, studying abroad is supposed to be exciting and life-changing. Make the most out of your time abroad and live your best life! However, keep in mind this is not something for everybody, if it is not for you and you would prefer to be closer to your family and friends. No matter what enjoy your student life and live to the fullest!

gtag('config', 'UA-179017044-2');