Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Commerce, 5th year
Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Commerce, 5th year

Academic Experiences 

I studied subjects towards my Finance degree at UvA. Being a double degree student in Commerce/Engineering, I had quite a lot of difficulty finding enough subjects since I have no electives. In the end UQ abroad approved a reduced study load of 4 subjects instead of the normal full time load of 5 at UvA;

- Advanced Corporate Finance
- Econometrics
- Marketing
- Money and Banking (FINM3404 at UQ)

Overall I found the content and exams of similar difficulty to UQ although higher marks were required to pass the courses. On all final exams a minimum score of 55% was required as well as an overall course score of 55%. The semester is also split into three blocks, two of 8 weeks and one of 4 weeks. Most people are able to fit all their subjects into the first two blocks and I would highly recommend this as it frees up a month of travelling at the end of your exchange (or time to study for your resits if you failed any subjects from the first block).

Personal Experiences

Studying abroad was one of the best experiences of my life. With the ISN introduction program you easily make new friends and connections from day one so there really isn’t much to worry about. With constant cheap flight specials all over Europe the possibilities and experiences from your central location are endless.

Accommodation

My housing was organised through UvA’s exchange program and I would highly recommend to anyone eligible to do the same. The biggest company called ‘DeKey’ accepted me and I was able to choose my housing location from a few options. I ended up staying at 189 Prins Hendrikkade for €437 per month. It is a centrally located, studio apartment style accommodation, filled with other exchange students.

The housing market is very competitive in Amsterdam and it can be very stressful and difficult to find accommodation on your own. If you do choose to go down this path the Facebook group ‘Student Housing Amsterdam’ would be a good place to start looking.

Budget 

I did quite a lot of research on the best ways to handle money abroad and I found that hands down the best choice is to open up a Citibank plus account while you are still in Australia. They offer the best exchange rates, no foreign currency conversion fees and also no ATM withdrawal fees. The only drawback is you are unable to lock in exchange rates and if that’s a concern, I would recommend the Commonwealth Bank Travel Card.

That being said it is definitely worth opening up a Dutch bank account for your stay in the Netherlands. The supermarkets in the Netherlands only accept cash or Dutch Maestro cards...no MasterCard or Visa!

All that put aside, the most important purchase you will need to make is a bicycle, as they are the quickest and most convenient way of transport around Amsterdam. The most convenient place to buy this is at the Waterlooplein Markets, although it is likely that you will be ripped off and receive an average bike. My recommendation for a bicycle and many other things is the Facebook group – ‘ISN Amsterdam Online Market’. It is a group for international exchange students that sell just about anything and depending on how urgently they want to sell, you can pick up excellent bicycles and household items for very cheap.

Dutch sim cards are also a good idea and my recommendation would be a company called ‘Simyo’ with a month-to-month contract (another thing you need a Dutch account for).

Academic development and employability

During my studies I learnt a lot about the European market and banking system, as well as experienced numerous different cultures. In terms of future employability, having successfully completed a semester and lived in Europe for a while, I would be much more inclined to accept employment abroad if there was an opportunity.

Highlight

Living in Amsterdam really is amazing. The only way I can describe it is like living in a much bigger and better West End (minus the hipsters). Around every corner is a cool bar or café ready to explore and the experiences you have and the friends you make will definitely leave a lasting impression.

Top Tips

Organise and time your calendar as soon as possible so you can travel as much as possible! The best website I found to travel with was ‘Skyscanner’ and the best way I found to travel was to put Netherlands as the departing country, ‘Everywhere’ as the arrival country and look for flights for the whole next month. That is the easiest way to find the cheapest flights and sort out the dates. Lastly, take every opportunity that presents itself and if all else fails don’t be afraid to travel by yourself – your next friend could be waiting to meet you in a crowded hostel on the other side of Europe!

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