Living in Holland
Life in Holland
You will feel welcome as soon as you arrive in Holland thanks to its friendly, open mindset and large number of international students. Holland has a rich history and culture, with pretty canals, 14th century buildings, and famous museums. Some of the world's greatest artists are from Holland, including Rembrandt and Van Gogh.
It is easy and convenient to travel to other cities in Holland and beyond. Paris and Berlin are a three-hour train journey or a one-hour flight from Amsterdam, and your visa allows you to travel freely throughout Europe.
Why live in Holland?
Try delicious new food
Holland has a wide range of food from Holland, Europe, and beyond. Dutch specialities include stroopwafels (caramel wafer cookies) and potato croquettes (deep-fried balls of mashed potato). The multicultural nature of Holland's largest cities, like Amsterdam, means you can find food from all over the world here.
Dutch is the first language in Holland, but nearly everyone is bilingual, so it is a great place to practice your English.
Holland is the perfect place to live if you would like to explore more of Europe, due to its excellent travel links. The Eurostar from Amsterdam travels to London and Brussels. There are also lots of airports and a great, affordable, rail system across the country.
Within Amsterdam, there is a fantastic public transport network including metros, buses, trams, ferries and trains to help you explore the capital.
Culture and customs
Windmills, tulips and clogs
People often associate Holland with windmills, tulips (flowers) and clogs (wooden shoes). Windmills are no longer used to grind grain but more than 100,000 have been preserved for visitors. Colourful tulips are grown in huge numbers near Amsterdam between April and May. And while few people still wear clogs, you can buy them as souvenirs in many shops.
The Dutch tend to be very direct (outspoken). Being direct is not considered rude but is a sign of honesty and trust. Most people have a laidback attitude and are not easily offended.
Holland is famous for cycling. The flat landscape and investment in cycling infrastructure in cities like Amsterdam make it easy and safe to travel everywhere by bicycle.
The Dutch are known for their liberal, open-minded attitude. This means that they are tolerant of different behaviours, proud of equal rights, and are accepting of new cultures and ideas.
King's Day (it was Queen's Day until 2014) is celebrated every year on 27 April, the current King's birthday. You can expect street parties, live music and everyone dressed in orange. In Amsterdam the Dutch monarch's birthday calls for a huge carnival with boat parties along the canal. It's a public holiday in Holland. Read iAmsterdam's 10 fun facts about Kings' Day.
Travel and transport
It's easy to travel around Holland – and the rest of Europe – thanks to fast rail and bus networks. The Dutch rail network is one of the busiest in the world, with trains running between all major cities. There are direct intercity trains, local trains and high-speed trains. Many cities also have a metro systems and trams, including Amsterdam and Rotterdam. You'll also find trams in The Hague and Utrecht.
A contactless smart card system called OV-Chipkaart is used to pay for the metro, buses, trams and trains in Holland.
Amsterdam Airport Schipol is the fourth busiest airport in Europe and provides international flights around the world.
A mixture of sunny, cloudy and rainy weather. Average temperatures are around 3°C-16°C.
Cold, sometimes with fog, frost or snow. Average temperatures are around 2°C-6°C, but can often fall below 0°C.
With bright, clear days, early spring tends to be the driest time of year. Average temperatures are around 10°C-17°C.
Warm and sunny, although cloudy and rainy weather can appear without warning. Average temperatures of around 17-20°C.
Holland’s healthcare system is widely regarded as one of the best in the world. Across the country, doctors’ surgeries and hospitals have high standards and excellent facilities. Most doctors speak and understand English.
- Pharmacies - called 'apotheken' - are widely available and stock both prescription and non-prescription medications.
- Dentists - called 'tandarts' - are not usually covered by basic insurance policies but may be available at an extra cost.
All international students are required to take out medical and travel insurance. Find out more about Student Insurance.
'It's nice to have a diverse classroom'
I really like the diversity that you can find here in the Netherlands. You can find people from everywhere in the world here and they’re all open to talk, have a conversation and meet you for who you are.
Leopoldo from Venezuela
Studying International Foundation Year