As a foreigner, who is considering Utrecht as a study destination, you have most probably already started a thorough research on all the fun activities you can join in the city. You should also check the previous blog post that provided some information about associations, events, programs and trips organized at Hogeschool Utrecht that you should definitely check out prior or after your arrival. This blog post will focus more on activities in the city that are not directly associated with HU, but still worth joining. As Utrecht is one of the most popular student cities in The Netherlands, there is plenty going on, and there are numerous locations where you could meet up with friends, other international students and locals.
The moment you arrive to the city, you will immediately notice how youthful and vibrant the atmosphere is. You will start noticing bikes everywhere, young people walking in groups, laughter coming from the cafes at Neude and all kinds of posters that are advertising student parties and events. One of the many advantages of being an international student in Utrecht is that the city is so culturally diverse that there are plenty of activities directly targeted at foreigners. Websites like MeetUp, IamExpat and InteNations are only some of the options for finding events for internationals. To make sure you will make the most of your experience in Utrecht, below is a list with the 5 must-do’s for all international students that are planning to study in the heart of The Netherlands.
1.Become a member of the ESN Association
First of all, it is for a reason that this one is on the top of the list. The Erasmus Student Network is an international organization that has 452 sections in 37 different countries and aims to make you feel welcome and at home regardless of the chosen study destination. The ESN is consistently gaining popularity in the recent years and offering services to about 190.000 students in different countries all over the world.
ESN Utrecht consists of around 90 students who volunteer and put effort into planning all kinds of introductory and fun activities.
Furthermore, the organization is also there to help you with different practical matters such as arriving to The Netherlands and arrangement of housing. ESN Utrecht aims to provide an easy platform for international students to meet up for different parties, dinners and sportive events in the city. Some of the events that regularly take place during the first and second semester of the study year are Introduction week, International Kitchen, Pub Quiz, Discover Holland Weekend, Movie nights and many more. For a full list of the events and information about joining the organization please click here.
2.Join one of the Utrecht Free Tours
Second of all, what better way to get to know your new home than joining a three-hour walking tour around the beautiful streets of Utrecht. Every weekend a number of tourists as well as international students like you have the unique chance to see the city through the eyes of locals and learn more about Utrecht’s rich history and culture. You will have the chance to visit top rated tourist attractions such as the Domtoren, the St. Martin’s Cathedral, The Oudegracht and more. The tours are free of charge and normally scheduled for 12 o’clock on Saturday and 14 o’clock on Sunday. The meeting point for the tours is The Dom Tower in the city center where a guide will be waiting to show you around. Please refer to this website for further information.
3.Learn Dutch at The Language Café Utrecht
Spreek je Nederlands?
Another must-do during your stay in Utrecht and the Netherlands is learning the language. As mentioned before, almost everyone in the country speaks fluent English, however, since you will be staying here for some time, why not learn some Dutch?
The fun part of it is that even if you believe that you are good with languages, you will still find Dutch one of the biggest challenges of your life. As many other internationals struggle with the same, a good idea is to join them in The Language Café Utrecht.
Every Wednesday, internationals have an opportunity to meet up in an informal environment and learn some Dutch or other languages. Furthermore, you could also teach others your mother tongue while making friends and meeting new people. More information about the event could be found here.
4.Visit the English Comedy Night at Café Hofman
In case you get tired of learning Dutch, another good way to spend an evening in Utrecht is by visiting the English Comedy Night held almost every month at Café Hofman. This event is gaining more and more popularity among internationals in Utrecht and it is often joined by locals as well. Normally, there are 4 comedians participating and performing in English. This type of an event could be a fun idea for a night out with friends from school or an opportunity to meet other internationals and locals. You could subscribe for the events on Facebook and be notified when the next one is organized. Simply follow this link.
5.Travel Around and Discover The Netherlands
Lastly, one of the biggest advantages of living and studying in Utrecht is that the city is located in the very center of the country. This gives you opportunity to easily travel around and visit cities during your stay in Holland. This is definitely a must-do, because this beautiful country has so much to offer. In case you don’t qualify for the free OV-chipkaart, another option to travel around cheap is to follow the deals for day-trips on spoordeelwinkel.nl or you can buy NS Dagretour tickets that are occasionally sold in big stores such as HEMA or Kruidvat.
To sum it up
Making the most of your experience in Utrecht should be the main objective of your study abroad period. When you sign up for an international program at HU, you should expect to meet new people and encounter different cultures. This makes the study period extremely enriching and useful for your future development. Although this blog post provides some ideas on ways to have fun and meet people, you should also do some further research, talk to currently enrolled students and join all HU Facebook groups for additional information.
If any further questions arise please feel free to leave a comment below and also make sure to share this blog post with friends on Facebook and Twitter!