First things first: for practical information like arranging somewhere to live, opening a bank account or getting yourself registered at the town hall, check out the guide compiled by EUR’s international office. Now that you know that, we’ll walk with you one season at a time to make sure you have a smooth sailing during your first year in Rotterdam.

Autumn: buy a bike and complain about the weather

Chances are, you arrived in Rotterdam by the end of August and got to enjoy a few days full of sunshine and summer-like temperatures. When it gets to nearly October, however, you’ll be having an inner monologue that goes like: “Look at that grey sky, so depressing. Why does it rain almost every day? No, it rains a couple of times a day! Sometimes the sun does peek through, but it’s gone again in seconds. And why does the wind act like a first class b*tch all the time? How can I live like this? What am I getting myself into?”

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OK, we admit it, the weather is the downside of living in this country. But hey, it allows you to build a new skill: complaining about the unpredictable weather. Dutch people are obsessed with this topic, so this is the best moment to train yourself in weather-related conversations. You can start by confidently greeting your Dutch classmates with a ‘Hoi’ and then elaborating on how yesterday’s precipitation didn’t match the forecast and how that brief sunshine at 4.37 pm changed your life for the better. The more details you mention about the weather, the more likely the Dutch will embrace you as their new family member.

Seriously, though, be prepared. Invest in a raincoat. On rainy days, you’ll thank yourself for not showing up at classes like a drowned rat. If you wish to go all-out, a hurricane-proof umbrella is next on your list. Rotterdam is a windy city and average umbrellas will definitely suffer a painful death after a short trip through the Weena.

Another basic skill you must definitely master to make your life easier is cycling, as it’s the fastest way to get around in Rotterdam. Not to mention the cheapest. So, buy a second hand bike (check it out on Marktplaats or Facebook group Commodity Market Rotterdam or buy it from fellow internationals who are leaving the country). The uglier the bike, the better. Otherwise it’ll get stolen in no time. Renting a bike is also an option. By showing your student card, you’ll get a brand new rental bike from Swapfiets for 12 euros a month.

Winter: time to ‘go Dutch’

How to beat winter depression, you ask? Two words: comfort food. While Rotterdam is a very international city with many foreign cuisines on offer, you should start with local food. You’ll probably have heard of typical Dutch food like haring, poffertjes, oliebollen or stroopwafels. But in the winter, nothing screams Dutch as loud as stamppot met andijvie en rookworst. Just head to the nearest HEMA restaurant and indulge yourself in their mashed potatoes with thick gravy and juicy sausage for only 3.50 euros (warning: portions are big).


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While enjoying your heavenly stamppot at the HEMA, you can look around and watch people, because Dutchies are one of the most interesting beings you’ll ever find. They are infamous for their direct approach and bluntness (often misinterpreted as ‘rudeness’), also for their frugality (often misjudged as ‘stinginess’). They have a weird way of washing dishes, they swim like fishes, they manage their time effectively by following a strict agenda and they always, always, make an appointment for everything.

The term ‘Going Dutch’ wasn’t invented for nothing. When you go out, you’re expected to pay your own bill. Even if it’s someone else’s birthday party and they’re the one who invited you. And on first dates, splitting bills is normal (we hear you cheering in the background, guys!). If you don’t have a date and are tired of swiping through Tinder, Rotterdampas is the only company you need. For 12.50 euros a year, you can do 750 cool activities around the city, either free or with discounts.

Spring: explore the country

By now you’ll have acquired plenty of friends with whom you’ll typically spend your weekend getting drunk at the nearest bar. Always cherish your friends and your friendships. But do it the Dutch way. When it’s their birthday, sing the typical birthday song, give them a cadeautje – little gift – and tuck in the receipt so they can return it to the store if they don’t like it. No, it’s not awkward at all.


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Spring is the best time to explore the country by train. Look out for Kruidvat’s day ticket offers. For 15 euros, you get unlimited train travel for a day. Don’t feel guilty for doing touristy activities (you have to do it once in a lifetime!): go and visit the cheese market in Alkmaar, hop on the wooden boat  in Giethoorn, climb the windmill in Zaanse Schans, sing along in Volendam, cycle around the island of Texel. Taking a water bus to Kinderdijk, cycling to Delft or The Hague, sunbathing in Hoek van Holland beach are options closer to home.

In this period, you’ll experience the greatest and most celebrated national holiday of the year: Koningsdag or King’s Day. The Dutch massively party their ass off on 27 April. So, put on your best orange outfit, paint your face with the colours of Dutch flag, dance like there’s no tomorrow and enjoy the garage sale called ‘vrijmarkt’ around the city.

Summer: what now?

As the summer approaches and you’ve settled into your daily routine, it suddenly hits you in the face: you’ve fallen in love. With the city, with the country, with your new life! You don’t remember your life before Rotterdam and can’t imagine living a life without bitterballen and patatje oorlog. Well, good news for you: the Dutch government wants you to stay! They offer a one year visa for Dutch university graduates called the orientation year visa. During this period, you’ll be able to look for and get a job without a working permit. In this orientation year, you will have to find an employer who wants to be your sponsor as a highly skilled migrant.

Last but not least, although the Dutchies speak English pretty well, it’s always a good idea to learn their language.

Make yourself familiar with a few Dutch expressions Source:

So, buckle up! As Winnie the Pooh put it: a great adventure is about to begin!