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Total population: 16,335,509 inhabitants (December 2005), Holland is the third most crowded country in the world Ethnic composition: 90% of the inhabitants are ethnically Dutch, and 7% have their roots in one of the following countries: another EU member state, Indonesia, Suriname, Turkey, Morocco, or the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba Foreign residents: 3 million (without Dutch nationality) Religion: 52% identify themselves as Christian, 40% claim no affiliation, and 8% belong to other religions National language: Dutch. Nearly everyone also speaks English, especially in the larger cities and towns. Many Dutch people speak German and French as well. In the northern province of Friesland, Frisian is spoken as a second language by some 600,000 people

Average prices

A cup of coffee/tea in a café 1.50 euros A cheese sandwich 2.00 euros A Big Mac 2.95 euros Dinner in a typical student restaurant

10 euros A cinema ticket 7.50 euros A text message on your mobile phone

from 0.07 euros

42 Study in Holland

Daily life

In daily life, you may suddenly find yourself thinking about the things that you take for granted at home, such as finding a place to live, taking out insurance, finding out whether you’re allowed to work, and getting used to a different currency. But you are also bound to have some practical questions too, like how to get a mobile phone, how to send a parcel home, what are the rules of the road, etc. For more information and useful links, see www.international-students.nl. For a general view of life in Holland, take a look at the interesting movies on www.vi5ions.nl.

Student culture

The higher education institutions are spread throughout the country and very few of them have campuses. The buildings of a single university might even be scattered throughout a city. Nevertheless, there certainly is a student culture. Around each institution, a network of associations brings students together for study-related activities, sports and recreation. These associations are run by students and some are internationally oriented. Students also have their favourite pubs, restaurants and other meeting places. In general, we can say that the Dutch higher education community seeks to be part of society and not isolated from it.


By international standards, Holland is a safe country, with low levels of violence and street crime. The police are friendly and helpful, they have a duty to protect everyone and can always be safely approached. If you contact them, don’t worry about language difficulties as the police will always find someone, free of charge, who speaks your language. In an emergency where there is a danger to life or a crime is in progress you can contact the police, fire brigade or ambulance by dialling 112 from any phone (free of charge). It is essential that you take out insurance when you arrive in Holland to insure your belongings against theft and accidental damage. For general information on insurance, look at www.ace-ips-nl.com.


Although differences between incomes are relatively small in Holland, most students live towards the bottom of the economic ladder. If you have an average student income – from a scholarship for example

  • you will find that one-third of it will go

towards housing. Food might cost you another third. Fortunately, most higher education institutions offer hot meals at reasonable prices. Many cities have pubs (eetcafé’s) where you can eat cheaply and well. But the cheapest way to eat is to do your own cooking. The remaining third of your money will go towards books, travel, and other expenses.


The Netherlands is more varied than you might think. There’s plenty to see, from strolling through town, making a boat trip on the canals or lakes, lazing on the beach, to walking in the woods and dunes. Have a look a www.holland.com to see what the possibilities are. There’s no shortage of entertainment either. Major international stars regularly play at Dutch stadiums and other smaller venues. Parkpop (in The Hague in June) is the biggest free live music festival in Europe. Musicals and the theatre are also very popular. With over 1,000 museums, there’s a lot for you to discover in the Netherlands (more information at www.concert.nl and www.museumserver.nl in Dutch). At Queen’s Day or when the national soccer team is playing, people dress in orange and go partying in the street.


Dutch cuisine is not exactly world famous. The Dutch themselves do not have a fine tradition of cooking, and hot meals are limited to one a day, traditionally in the evening. Breakfast generally consists of sliced bread with cheese, sliced meat or jam. Most people have sandwiches for lunch with the addition of perhaps soup, a salad or fruit. For the evening meal, large quantities of potatoes and vegetables are accompanied by a relatively small serving of meat or fish. This traditional diet is also the most economical. In recent years, however, Dutch tastes are becoming more international and refined. You will find a large variety of products (pasta dishes, rice, curry) in the regular supermarkets, and many restaurants offer a wide range of international dishes.

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