Quick guide to become a typically Dutch student

You’re a student in the Netherlands now! Here’s a quick guide on how to fit in with the typically Dutch student population:

  1. The first step: you need to be able to get around. A perfect way to fit in with Dutch students is by getting your own ‘barrel’. A ‘barrel’ is a crappy old bike that rattles on every side, but it works, and it sucks so much you can be guaranteed it won’t be stolen. Don’t forget to spray paint it a ridiculous color for some extra insurance. Maybe neon green or possibly gold?

 Barrel bike

  1. You better get used to eating a lot of bruine boterhammen met hagelslag. If you are from a place where you have access to several hot meals a day, I’m sorry, but that’s not how we do things here. We like our (un)healthy, boring (but also fast and cheap) bread-and-cheese-and-water lunches.
  2. Get a planner or agenda and learn to use it. This is not just a good way to integrate into Dutch student life, but to integrate in NL in general. Time-management is very important in the Netherlands and we loooove a schedule. It’s not easy to get used to the X-TREME-PLAN-SCHEDULE-BE-ON-TIME-ALWAYS-DOES-NEXT-TUESDAY-WORK-FOR-YOU culture, but it will make fitting in a lot smoother.
  3. Consider joining a student organization. Most ‘studentenverenigingen’ are pretty closed off and exclusive of international students, but a study-assosciation (studievereniging) organized by your University or Faculty is a great alternative. There’s often a lot of interesting events and it’s a great way to meet someone. Besides that, the weekly drinks or yearly biercantus are integral parts of the Dutch Student Experience.
  4. Prepare the most typically Dutch student meal: AVG’tje! Most Dutchies grew up on this simple fare: Aardappelen, Vlees, Groenten (Potatoes, Meat and Vegetables). Pour some sauce from a bag (just add water!) over top and enjoy your typically Dutch meal. (Oh, and make sure you eat it at 6 o’clock sharp, of course.)

Dutch food


Speaking of which, here are some other acronyms you should familiarize yourself with:

  • BVO: Biertje voor onderweg (beer for on the road). Leaving the pre-game at your friends’ house? Don’t’ forget to bring a BVOtje! Along with this comes learning the perfectly useful skill of riding your bike while holding/drinking a beer. Proost!
  • SOG: Studie Ontwijkend Gedrag (study evasive behavior). You are SOG-ing when you know you have 10 assignments to complete and an exam on Monday, but you totally have time to hang out with your friends, and oh this is also the perfect time to clean your entire house!
  • WBW: Wie betaalt wat (who pays what) is a website you’ll need to become familiar with as soon as possible. Because what better way to get into the cheapskate habits of the Dutch by getting on a platform with which you can account for every cent you spent on communal items?!