How to stay in budget as an international student in The Netherlands

Being notorious for being one of the most expensive countries to live in Europe, trying to make ends meet in The Netherland can be challenging for students, especially those coming from a non-EU country. Therefore, this blog gives some helping hand for you to make your student life in The Netherlands as most enjoyable as possible without financial burdens.

1.”Aanbiedingen”, “Kortings”, “Gratis”

I bet these words sound appealing to me as much as they are to the Dutch people (aanbiedingen = deals, kortings = discount, gratis = free). Pay an eye to these words whenever you go shopping can save you a fair amount of money. As a student myself, I rely on when supermarkets offer good deals on food or household appliances. This way, sometimes, I can buy the same item but with halved price and have a bit of savings for later.

2. Know where to do your shopping

Traditional markets (Vismarkt as it is often called in Dutch) is a great alternative to supermarkets when you buy grocery as food, fruits, and vegetable in Vismarkt can be much cheaper. Besides, freshly-made seafood can also be purchased at a discount if you are a student. Or at the end of the day, some farmers decide to make a final sale to their product, which sounds great right? Besides, if you decide to buy something new, I highly recommend try looking in such stores as SoLow, Action or Flying tiger, Primark, etc. At these stores, you can find items at incredibly cheap price or you may pay even much less than other more expensive stores. Sounds attractive enough? Or when you want to buy some cheap interior decorations, consider having a look on Marktplaats. This trading platform also have offers at amazing prices. And most importantly, the payment is often secured and trusted by many generations of Dutchies.

Vismarkt in Groningen – Netherlands where you can find affordable grocery

3. Healthy home-cooking

Another tip to save your pennies is to have home-made meals more often. Why paying for a plate of salad that may cost 3 times higher in restaurant and cafe? Instead, you can absolutely create your own dish using some more “affordable” ingredients that can be bought in any supermarkets/ markets, of course even better with “kortings” or “aanbiedingen“. Furthermore, making meals yourself can help you to control the amount of fat, sugar and thus lead a healthier lifestyle.

4. Buy what only matters!

I’m sure I am not the only one who may stuff my room with unnecessary things. So the tip is is to buy what you only need. Do not even think about things that you “may” use in the future because that things may end up not being used. Only purchase essentials that you frequently are in need of (e.g. toothpaste, shampoo, etc). Trust me, buying things just because they are cute or “I may need this” might end up a waste of money.

5. Keep an eye on special websites for students in Netherlands

Websites such as UNiDAYS or Studentenkorting offer discounts from different famous brands. So all you need to do is just BE a student and enjoy the DEALS available.

6. Apply for benefits and allowances (only if you are eligible)

One of things that I really appreciate when living in The Netherlands as an international student is that sometimes, I receive financial support from the Dutch government, which makes my life here way easier. There are a few benefits/ allowances that you can apply for such as huurtoeslag (housing allowance), healthcare benefits, etc. All you need to do is to check whether you are eligible for the “toeslagen” (benefits) on the tax and customs administration official website Belastingdiesnt

Hope the mentioned tips can help you make the most of your journey as an international student in The Netherlands!

Feel free to share more in the comments!

6 easy ways to make the best of autumn as an international student in The Netherlands

Busy as you might be, remember that life is so much more than just studying!

The academic year has started means that students’ life can be occupied by so many deadlines which can drain you at some points. Don’t worry, you can always find ways to have a school-life balance!

Take a short walk whenever possible

It may sound simple, but trust me, Dutch nature won’t disappoint you. There’s a close scientific link between strolling for a walk and health benefits. Too good to be true? Well, taking a short walk has been shown to ease nervousness and boost relaxation. What’s more? Strolling away from your study can also help to improve creativity. So get stuck? Just spend some time away from your laptop and step out for some freshness.

Treat yourself to good food!

Personally, this works for me every single time. Do you agree that maintaining a healthy (and tasty) diet is a fancy solution to a happy life? For me, whenever I feel stressed, or depressed, I always rely on delicious dishes to revive my energy. You can choose to either order food online or eat out in restaurants with your buddies. I know it can be costly to eat out sometimes, but trust me, you’re worth it. If life is not about food, what else? Or if you are like me and love to cook, then spending time exploring new recipes can also help. I love the feeling of spending hours in the kitchen cooking my favorite dishes, and feel even better knowing that cooking at home can save me lots of money too.

Keep a positive attitude and have something to look forward to!

I know that life sometimes can be hard on you, but keep in mind that the hardships are just temporary and they exist to help you stronger. Enjoy the process of your journey and believe that the obstacles will just train you to be wiser. I tend not to focus too much on the negativities that the bulky workload can cause, instead, I make plans for the winter break which is something that I can look forward to. Searching for where to go, what to do, and where to stay or how to make the winter vacation as much fun as possible is just a much more relaxing and exciting process than reading 40-page articles for my study.

Groningen city in autumn

Do some shopping! But do not exceed your budget (as a student)!

The feeling that you can investigate in yourself and make yourself look nicer or embrace your styles and charactersitics through what you wear is one of the best feelings. And especially, in the autumn there are many good deals from fashion chains, which makes shopping a good “excuse” to spend money. Furthermore, from October onwards, Christmas decorations will have been displayed in quite a number of stores. Need a change for your mood? Then I bet cute and cozy Christmas ornaments or candles can also bring you warmth. However, as a student, you may not want to surpass your monthly limit! So make a good budget plan so that life will be easier.

Have a short vacation (if possible)

Taking a day or two from home sounds like a good idea too! You can choose to explore the autumn nature in The Netherlands (trust me the Dutch nature in autumn won’t disappoint you!). Or a day back to childhood to some theme parks in The Netherlands sounds fun too? List of where to go can be infinite so don’t worry if you cannot decide yet! Take your time, sit back and relax, feel free to take my recommendations on such places as Efteling, Wildlands Adventure Zoo, Moco museum or simply taking a walk in De Hoge Veluwe which is the biggest national park in The Netherlands (and many more)!

treat-yourself-good-sips-of tea-or-coffee
Treat yourself to good food and drinks

It is totally fine to be lazy!

Don’t feel like doing any of the above-mentioned activities? It is totally fine if you decide to spend a day in your own room. Reading your favorite book(s), Netflix and chill, cooking, cleaning and re-organizing your room can still be a source of happiness. Or strolling around and having a sip of hot chocolate in your favorite cafe while looking out the streets that are full of autumn leaves can be so tranquil too.

Overall, my tip is to do whatever makes you comfortable and happy. Each of us will have different ways to spend our time and whatever you do, make sure you enjoy it!

Are you a happy international student in The Netherlands?

So what do I do living in this land of bicycles?

“Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance, you must keep moving”

How it started

The Netherlands has never been my dream destination for education, Europe was still a completely new land to me as where an international student would stream to. But in the end, I found myself land in this country where I would love to call my second home.

I reluctantly packed my luggage and stepped on the one-way flight to Amsterdam in the midst of the Corona pandemic. My decision to still go knowing that the come-back day was still an open question gave me mixed feelings. I was worried, sad and frustrated, thinking about having no acquaintances in The Netherlands, my stay had not been set yet, the virus was still present taking away thousands of lives per day. Honestly, I did not know what to expect except for the fact that I came here for a better education and (hopefully) living environment. Apart from those motivations, I was completely lost. But still I decided not to return my tickets and be here.

Riding a bicycle on a winter day in Groningen

Being a happy international student

Now that I am writing these lines, I am being wrapped up in warm blanket, in my recently renovated room while the wind is blowing hard outside. All in all, my life has been getting better each day, or at least I believe so although I must admit that it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The struggles behind are still there, raw and real, always! But I believe they all help to build the person I am today, much stronger and always love more to receive more!

It cannot take just seconds to paint the whole picture about my life here in The Netherlands, obviously. Therefore, my next blogs will be more detailed about life experiences in The Netherlands as an international student. How staying, studying and traveling are like, and everything else that life has to deal with.

Particularly, I will dive into my life experiences in Groningen – the biggest city to the north of The Netherlands. I bet you have never heard of it, but trust me, Netherlands is not just about Amsterdam. You may be amazed at how magnetic this student-friendly city of Groningen can be. All I could give is that this is now my tweede huis (second home) , and will always be.

So I really appreciate your patience until these last lines of my very first blog about The Netherlands!

Stay tuned for my next blogs! And hope to see ya soon in Groningen – The Netherlands!