Mathieu - University of Amsterdam

B Advanced Finance and Economics (Honours)
Semester 1, 2019
Amsterdam: the city of tulips, bikes, and red lights. AmsterDAM

Academic experience

For my European semester exchange abroad, I took a fulltime load of 5 elective courses (equivalent to 4 UQ courses) during my 3rd year of university. Luckily my program (BAFE) had a pre-set list of courses to choose from so the enrolment and registration process was quite straight forward. I wanted to learn the European perspective on international markets, hence I studied Macroeconomics and E-business. Being the highest ranked university of continental Europe in Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam gave me the opportunity to study Game Theory and Behavioural Economics under leading European behavioural economists. I also took Political Economy: Dialectical Methodology. Some academic differences I noticed were that there was no prejudice against taking a resit exam (some students would plan to take the resit just to have more time to study) and there were much more relaxed exam conditions (you can start as soon as the test is given, also no calculator requirements).

Personal experience

Living alone for 6 months taught me greater responsibility and time management skills. I had to balance study with social events and travel, while also maintaining a healthy diet and financial budget. Because the exchange was in Europe travel to other countries was super easy. I was able to travel to Belgium and back for only 10€ on a bus. I gained numerous international friends, including a Californian and Italian who were my roommates.


The application process for housing was easy. Everything was done through DeKey. I lived off-campus at a student accommodation about a 30-minute bike ride from the city centre. The accommodation had 24/7 rooftop and common room access which was a blessing. Living away from the city was a great choice because for one, it was cheaper than living closer to the city and two, I was able to enjoy bike riding the beautiful streets of Amsterdam every day. I was living near Bijlmer station which was a populated area, so transport and groceries were easy to get to.


UQ’s suggested cost of $12000-$15000 was spot on, although for Amsterdam I would recommend closer to 15000. The OS-Help Loan and UQ bursary definitely helped fund my exchange.


My net banking code was still being sent to my Australian number because I didn’t realise I needed to tell my home bank that I would be overseas. This was the biggest challenge as I was unable to make any online purchases at first while there (including rent) and I missed out on some opportunities due to this. It was impossible to call the bank from a European number as the bank blocked all foreign numbers. What I ended up having to do was message the bank on Facebook to call me on my European number and then the situation was able to be resolved.

Professional Development

Combined with “unpacking your global experience” session and learning the SEAL method, I now feel confident to put my exchange experiences into professional skill terms. I became better able to adapt to new environments and situations.


My Highlight would be Kings day where everyone dresses up in orange. This is because the Dutch royal family bear the name “House of Oranje”, meaning the colour orange. It soon became Netherlands’s national colour. On Kings Day I went to the King’s day festival where I had to opportunity to see famous Dutch artists that I had been dancing to during the exchange experience.

Top tips

Tell your bank you will be living overseas so you can arrange online banking.
Get a roommate/roommates, forces you to interact with people and you end up doing a lot more with them when they or you suggest ideas rather than staying alone in your room all day.