Have you been searching for a place with all of the following -- tall people; a vivacious nightlife; little wooden shoes; sophisticated canals lining beautiful cities; natural greenery?

The Netherlands, also known as Holland, is the epitome of European beauty and the heart of international affairs. Diplomatically, the Netherlands is home to the International Criminal Court in the Hague and the city of Maastricht, a historically important city to the creation of the European Union. The innate beauty of the Netherlands merely supplements the country’s crucial international position. Studying in such a unique place is a rare educational experience.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam has resources for either side of the spectrum. If crowded parties with scantily-clad strangers quell your hunger, there are parties and social functions aplenty. If traditional cafés surrounded by well-kept gardens and traditional Dutch architecture fit your bill, you also cannot go wrong in Amsterdam.

Rotterdam

Rotterdam has the largest port in Europe, that was at one point the largest port in the world. After experiencing severe infrastructure damage at the hand of the Germans, Rotterdam was rebuilt in a more modern fashion, incorporating steel and glass high-rises. There’s a reason why Rotterdam is known as the Manhattan of the Maas.

Maastricht

Maastricht, a city within walking distance of Belgium and Germany, is historically known as the birthplace of the Maastricht Treaty, which officially transformed Europe into a single Union. However, big, grand, and industrial are not words to describe Maastricht; bikes trump cars and city festivals cause quite the hullaballoo here.

Where to study in the Netherlands? With whom should I stay? These are but some of the questions to consider when choosing a program. Make sure to consider all the options before making a final decision, though.

Language

Dutch may be the official language of the Netherlands but nearly 83% of the population speaks English to varying levels of coherence. Venturing around the cities and the classrooms can be accomplished without a drop of Dutch. Then again, no one is stopping you from learning the Dutch tongue for social interactions with larger social groups or the elderly. NRCSA is one program that offers 15, 20, or 25 hours of Dutch language lessons a week.

Housing

Dutch cities tend to be quite modern and well-equipped for study abroad students. Thus, programs offer a variety of living accommodations from apartments to home-stays to dormitory living.

If you have to organize your housing independently (which is typical if you directly enroll in a program), you can find furnished student apartments across Italy through UniPlaces.

Academic Life

Dutch schools are becoming increasingly international, meaning you could take all the steps from a bachelor’s degree to a PhD without any Dutch-instructed classes. Whether you’re at the University of Amsterdam or Leiden University, academically driven students from all over the world are sure to be joining you.

While Dutch schools have international influences, the education system there is unique in that professors use a 1-10 scale that is linear and not curved. Anything between an 8 (very good in Holland) and 10 (excellent) would be considered an A+ in the US and to a certain extent in the UK.

While much of the Netherlands innate beauty can be enjoyed on feet and on bikes, there are famous restaurants, museums, arts galleries, and festivals to investigate. Arming oneself with scholarship money to explore Dutch culture and pay for university tuition can be a game-changer for some. Here are a couple of scholarships to study in the Netherlands:

Contributed by Daniel O'Kelly

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