Sarah - University of Amsterdam

B Science
Semester 2, 2017

Academic Experience

Animal Cognition, Motivational Psychology, Consciousness & Control, Cultural Psychology, Individual Differences. The exams here were very relaxed, which made the whole process of examination much less stressful.

I found that sometimes the assessment requirements were quite unclear or vague which made it hard to know what was required of me. Usually if I was very uncertain I would ask the lecturer to specify what they wanted either over an email or in person.

Personal Experience

I took the INTT Dutch course for 6 weeks, and although I developed dutch language skills, learning Dutch is not necessary in the Netherlands as majority of people speak very sufficient English.

I was able to travel on weekends to Germany and other parts of the Netherlands, as well as to Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Italy and Belgium during the semester. I learnt how to cope better with being alone often, living by myself.


I lived at Hotel Jansen, a student-type hotel out of the city. The room was warm in winter and the building was right by the forest, which allowed me to go running in a place that seemed so removed from the city. My advice would be to apply for housing in one of the lower housing brackets. I unnecessarily paid double what most other exchange students paid for the same basic facilities.


Rent: $300/week.

Transport: invest $150 in a bike and you won’t have to pay for trains/busses locally. 

I believe the advice given by the University of $10-15,000 for the semester is appropriate, if you live modestly. However, living in a city in Western Europe such as Amsterdam can be very expensive if you want to go out on the weekend or if you enjoy eating out. If you would like to travel (and being in Europe, you will want to), I would suggest saving as much as possible, so that you do not feel as though you missed out on anything.

Professional Development & Employability 

I’ve gotten quite good at riding in the rain whilst trying to follow directions on my phone. 

I desire to work internationally in the future, so it has been good to be surrounded by people of many nationalities in a more scientific setting than I have before experienced while overseas.


Riding through Vondelpark each day on my way to class did not get any less beautiful, even as the seasons changed.

Top Tips 

Make friends, as soon and as many as you can. Don’t dismiss them because they’re different, be open to them and curious about how and why they are different to you. I recommend exploring parts of the Netherlands outside of Amsterdam, as this city does not represent the country, just as Sydney does not represent the whole of Australia.