While known most for its Red Light District, coffee shops, and nightlife that would make your mother blush, Amsterdam goes far beyond that. Rich in World War II history, art, café culture, and of course stunning canals make this place a must for a study abroad experience and the quintessential European lifestyle.

Amsterdam unquestionably has everything you could want in a city. The feeling of gezellig rings true in its quaint canals, historic architecture, cozy cafés, and of course the friendly and welcoming people. Be a part of a vibrant city with a laid back attitude, and have a truly memorable study abroad experience.

Photo credit: Per Salomonsson.

There are many scholarships available to international students.

Culture and Immersion

Amsterdam is truly an international city, and this can be seen in the varied cuisine of the restaurants and hearing different languages while traveling around the city. While Amsterdam is great for a vacation, it is even better for a long- term stay because there is so much to see and do.

On the weekends, take a ride on your bicycle to one of the Brown Cafes, named for their tobacco-stained walls, or take in a weekend market at Waterlooplein or Nieuwmarkt. If art is more your style, lucky you because there are hundreds of museums to keep you busy, most notably the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum. For just 40 euros, pick up a Museumcard to gain free or reduced cost access to museums and attractions all across Holland.

Nightlife is also a thrill in Leidseplein or Rembrandtplein. Ringed with bars and clubs with loads of seating outside, this area is a must for socializing, dancing, and live music throughout the year.

Amsterdam is so diverse in what it has to offer including the Artis Zoo or Vondelpark. Locals call it the Central Park of Amsterdam, and on a sunny day, people come from all around to enjoy the park’s cafes or just relax in the sun with a picnic. Even the public library is a sight to be seen. It’s five plus floors are reminiscent of a trendy Apple Store.


Being one of the most popular cities in Europe, Amsterdam does not come cheap. There are, however, many affordable places to grab a snack or sit for hours over just one cup of coffee. While credit cards are taken at many places, they require a pin and many times an electronic chip. Grocery stores will only take cash or bankcards with a chip. ATM machines are very easily accessible though, and cash is taken everywhere.

Culture Shock and Support

Amsterdam is one of the most expat- friendly cities in the world. English is more widely spoken than Dutch many times, and the Dutch people are extremely helpful. There are many resource websites available, but the most helpful for both tourists and local expats alike is Iamsterdam. It provides a comprehensive source of information from what concerts are happening in the city, where to find the best Dutch restaurant, or how to find a doctor.

For student housing information, visit DUWO. If your school program provides housing or a homestay, it is best to take advantage of that. Housing in Amsterdam can be very expensive and difficult to find. If you happen to lose your passport or just need to renew, there is also an American consulate centrally located in Museumplein.

Insider Tips

There aren’t too many cars in the city center, but there sure are a lot of bicycles. It is the main form of transportation for locals rain or shine, and bike paths are better maintained than most roads. If biking isn’t your cup of tea, rest assured that public transport is very easy to navigate and reliable most days. With four metro lines, numerous trams, and buses there is always an easy way to your destination. All you need is an OVchipcard that can be purchased (and topped up) at most metro stations and will give you access to all forms of transport.

For out of city excursions, there are also a multitude of trains that leave from Central Station and other main stations throughout the city at any time of day.

Amsterdam’s location makes it a perfect spot for exploring the rest of Europe. Within an hour by train, you can explore the smaller towns in Holland like Delft or arrive in Antwerp or any of the small towns in Belgium. There is even a direct train to Paris that only takes four hours. Schipol airport is just a fifteen-minute train ride from central station, and from there the possibilities are endless.

Contributed by Erin Dowd.


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