Maud - University of Amsterdam

B of Arts/Law
Semester 1, 2019
Studying abroad in Amsterdam was truly surreal - it was everything I hoped it would be and more.

Academic experience

UvA divides the semester into three blocks. I studied five courses overall during the first two blocks and travelled during the third. I took European Human Rights Law, Intro to EU Law, Victims of War, Introduction to Comparative Law, and International Refugee Law. The teaching style varied significantly between the courses and the examinations were run quite differently to UQ.

Personal experience

Navigating a new city, on bike nonetheless, didn't feel real at first. There were many moments on exchange that felt that way, especially at the start, simply because of how beautiful and foreign the city felt. Amsterdam quickly became a second home and the friends I made on exchange became family very quickly. Some of my favourite memories in Amsterdam are just relaxing near a canal or at Vondelpark with friends. I went travelling almost every other weekend as well as after the semester, and found Amsterdam to be the perfect home base. One of my favourite day trips was to Haarlem and the Keukenhof gardens.


I applied for housing through the university and ended up renting through a third party, DeKey. It's a lengthy process and there are some administrative fees, but it was much easier than trying to find a rental on my own. I stayed in a student flat in Bijltjespad, which was in a convenient location. It took less than ten minutes to ride to class and everywhere was less than twenty minutes away. The accomodation itself was somewhat decrepit and had some security issues, but there was a really warm atmosphere and it was very social. Many exchange and local students stayed there, so it was very easy to meet people.


I paid €410 per month for rent, which was very affordable for the central location. I rented a bike through swapfiets, which was €19 per month. It's possible to buy a bike and sell it later, but there is a swapfiets location on campus at Roeterseiland. I chose to rent because swapfiets have a repair service and offer insurance. Public transport can be quite expensive, so I mainly rode my bike. Eating out was more expensive than in Australia, but groceries were on par or a little less.


During exchange, our flat had some serious issues with security, such as no working locks on the windows despite being on the first floor, and an attempted break-in through my flatmate's bedroom window. Being an older building, there were several plumbing issues and the laundry machines barely worked. Communicating with the rental agency, DeKey, was very challenging at times as our security concerns were dismissed at first.

Professional Development

Exchange can be an incredible opportunity to develop transferable skills. For me, I found that the challenges I faced while studying abroad encouraged me to become more flexible all around and increased my ability to adapt and act in new environments. This experience has undoubtedly expanded my professional horizons by broadening the scope of my future work and aspirations. Being able to meet so many professionals with diverse and exciting careers helped to clarify my career goals.


As cliche as it sounds, the highlight of my experience was the people that I met and the experiences we shared. Koningsdag (and koningsnacht) was a surreal experience, with the entire city decked out in orange and pure revelry spilling out into the streets.

Top tips

I would wholeheartedly recommend renting a bike, exploring the Netherlands beyond just Amsterdam, and joining ISN.