Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan hub of cultural diversity, tolerance and history. The Dutch can be incredibly forthright, which is refreshing once you get used to it. However, most of my closest friends were other international students from the US and Europe on Erasmus Exchange and friends of my boyfriend’s from playing professional rugby in the European circuit.

Because I went with another person I opted not to stay in the accommodation the university organizes for its exchange students. Friends indicated that where you are allocated involves a bit of luck, with some accommodation being right in the city centre and other rooms being well out of Amsterdam. We organized an apartment through airbnb and this in itself ended up being a good way of meeting people.

Continuing my third year of Arts majoring in Philosophy at the UvA couldn’t have been better. In the humanities school, the classes are smaller and taken as 3 hour seminars. I found that they were a lot more interactive and because of the cultural cross-section of the classes the discussions were incredibly rich. Lecturers took a personal interest in their students and really invested themselves into getting the best out of you. I’ve come home with a much clearer direction for my studies because of it.

In saying that, it can take patience sorting through to get subject approval and enrolment sorted. The best advice I could offer is keep organized, do your research and relax into the processes. The Dutch administrative systems are notoriously complicated.

I joined a writer’s workshop, played social touch football and worked for an English-speaking comedy club. All of these things were a really good opportunity to get the feel of the city as a local rather than simply a student and I would recommend it to anyone considering Amsterdam for exchange to branch out while you’re there.

If you love live music, it’s worth checking out Melkweg and Paradiso when you get there. Lots of artists start their European tours with warm-up performances here so you’re likely to stumble across something world-class for relatively cheap. Flee markets and vintage stores are something else Amsterdam does really well. Albert Cuyp markets in De Pijp, Waterlooplein, the Nine Streets and the Jordaan are all areas that are worth riding your bike through!
 

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