Settling down in Rotterdam

Over the past few years, the Netherlands has grown to be one of the most attractive destinations for higher education in the world with a rapidly increasing number of internationals. We welcome over 200 foreign students every year. As exciting as this opportunity may be, undertaking a study abroad can often also be an overwhelming experience, especially at the very beginning. This is why we have prepared for you a few very simple, but useful tips on how to make your transition to your new home – Rotterdam - easier and more enjoyable.

Traveling by bike

One of the most popular aspects about The Netherlands has always been the large number of bikes and cycling in general. Local people from all ages can be seen cycling on a daily basis whether it’s to work, to the store or just for fun. And there are many reasons why – it is free, healthy and with the excellent city infrastructure, also quite fast. This is why, we would strongly recommend you to get yourself a bike from the very beginning so you can save some money and time, while seamlessly adapting to the local lifestyle. Some places where you can find a bike are:

  • Rijwielhandel Campusbikes – a bike and repair shop in the Erasmus campus
  • Facebook groups such as “Bike for sale in Rotterdam” and “Bike marketplace Rotterdam”
  • Swapfiets – rent a bike for €15 per month including free repair

OV chipkaart

Rotterdam is quite a modern city with a very well-developed and accessible transportation system - there are several metro lines, trams, buses and trains. In order to use them, you can either purchase a ticket from a machine or apply for an OV chipkaart, which is the most convenient option especially for students. We would advise you to purchase the personal (yellow) OV chipkaart as you can both load it with credit and benefit from special discount. For example, for €50 a year you can receive a 40% discount every time you travel by train. In some stores, you can also find special day cards (around €16 each), which allow unlimited travel throughout the whole day.

Rotterdam Pass

Another useful tip is to get a student discount card such as the Rotterdam Pass, which gives you special discounts to more than 500 attractions and sometimes even a free entrance. The Rotterdam Pass costs €60 per year and some of the places it covers are the famous Euromast, the Cube houses, Pathe cinema, Rotterdam museums and also a few spots in The Hague. In this way, you can explore and enjoy what the city has to offer without it being too heavy on your pocket.

Opening a bank account

When moving to the Netherlands it is essential for you to open a Dutch bank account. There are several banks to choose from, including ING, ABN Amro and Rabo Bank. In order to apply for one, all you need is to be registered in the municipality and to provide a document which indicates that you are enrolled in a local university. Since sometimes it may take longer to become a citizen, ING also offers the possibility to apply for a temporary bank card. 


Discover the city

Rotterdam is a city of architectural and cultural diversity, which offers many intriguing places to explore. It is a home to the biggest European port and it is visited by over a million tourists every year, who come to admire the unique landscape, the modern architecture and the multi-cultural vibe. Some of the most remarkable places we recommend you to visit are the Erasmusbrug, Markthal, Hotel New York, Museum Park, the Maritiem and the Photography museums and of course the Euromast, which unfolds a breathtaking bird’s-eye view of the city. Rotterdam is also a very lively city in the evening, especially if you go to the Meent or Witte de Withstraat, where you will discover a wide range of excellent cafes, bars and restaurants. And if you are looking for a cosy and quiet place to study during the day, we would suggest you check out @home café, Coffee Company, Cat café, the Student Hotel and Kralingse Plas, in case you enjoy studying in the park. Other interesting spots that are worth paying a visit are:

  • Nhow – a restaurant with a beautiful view of Erasmusbrug
  • SS Rotterdam – a boat with a bar, cafe and a pool
  • Delfshaven – a historical neighbourhood with typical Dutch houses and canals

Lastly, every Tuesday and Saturday there is an open market in front of Markthal, where you can find anything from fresh meat and fish to clothing and flowers at a very reasonable price.

Cultural diversity

Rotterdam is a home to more than 175 nationalities and over 45% of the population is foreign-born, which makes it one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. This is why it is also the perfect place for international students because being away from home can often be difficult, but this city definitely makes the experience more enjoyable. For example, here you can find cuisine from all over the world – Chinese, Italian, Indonesian, Mexican, Spanish and more. There is even an entire Chinese neighbourhood next to the central station and plenty of shops with imported food. Apart from that, many international festivals are organized every year, such as the International Film Festival and Rotterdam Unlimited – a free music festival, which celebrates cultural diversity. All of this makes Rotterdam a captivating city, which offers not only remarkable architecture, culture and food but also a unique feeling of belonging.   

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Photo credit: Jan Bijl