Life as a student in Amsterdam
As an international student at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, you will have to arrange a number of things upon your arrival. On this page you will find everything that is involved in living in the Netherlands.
After you arrived in the Netherlands, settled in your new house and explored your new city a bit, there are a couple of practical actions to take:
- register with your local municipality – BSN;
- get your DigiD;
- open a bank account;
- get health insurance;
- insure your belongings.
Good to know
Once you have taken care of the above, there are still some things that are important to consider, such as:
Upon arrival in the Netherlands
Register with your local municipality – BSN
If you stay in the Netherlands for more than 4 months, you must visit your local municipality and register as a resident in the Basic Registration of Persons (BRP) database. This will give you your Burgerservicenummer (BSN). You need a BSN to open a bank account, to take out health insurance or to get a job or internship in the Netherlands. Read more about the BSN at www.government.nl.
Get your DigiD
After you have received your BSN, you can apply for a DigiD. With this ID, you can arrange government-related matters online. With a DigiD, you can log in to government websites such as DUO (student grant), the Tax Office (taxes) or municipal services. Read more about DigiD for expats in the Netherlands here.
Opening a bank account
If you are staying in the Netherlands for a longer period of time, it is advisable to open a bank account. Most people use a Maestro debit card. Many supermarkets do not accept credit cards and some shops do not even accept cash. You must have a bank account if you are working or doing an internship. Read more about banking for expats in the Netherlands.
Apply for health insurance
Dutch health insurance is compulsory for all residents of the Netherlands. Things change if you also do an internship or have a side job. Read more about health insurance for international students in the Netherlands on the page of the Rijksoverheid or on the page of I Am Expat.
Dutch health insurance is compulsory for all residents of the Netherlands. Students often stay temporarily, so they may not be obliged to take out insurance. Things change if you do an internship or have a part-time job. Read more about this on: health insurance for international students in the Netherlands.
Insure your belongings
There are various things you can get insurance for. Personal liability, repatriation and travel insurance, for example, are common in the Netherlands. Another important one is contents insurance. This insurance covers the contents of your student room against damage from fire, water damage or burglary. Many insurance companies offer student discounts or competitively priced insurance packages. It may look expensive, but it is really worth to be well insured. Read more about insurance for expats in the Netherlands.
Additional financial matters:
Cash is used less and less in the Netherlands these days. However, it is still handy to have a few loose euros or some bank notes in your pocket. But what is the current exchange rate and where is the best place to exchange it when you stay in the Netherlands for a longer period of time? And what else do you need to do in order to be able to arrange your financial affairs in the Netherlands? Here we will help you on your way.
Payments in euros
The euro (symbol: €; Dutch plural: euro) is the currency of the Netherlands as one of the 19 Member States of the European Economic and Monetary Union. The official ISO code for the currency is EUR.
Current exchange rates
On Wisselkoers.nl you will find the most up-to-date exchange rates for the euro and other currencies.
Discount cards for students
By showing your student card, students receive discounts at many cultural institutions, on computer software and at gyms. The AHK has special agreements with a number of companies and institutions in the fields of sports and software & hardware, among other things.
The CJP Cultuurkaart is not specifically for students, but for all young people under 30 years old, and gives discounts on (film) festivals, concerts, theatres and museums, among other things. The card costs €17.50 per year.
Fancy even bigger discounts? Then take a look at this small selection of websites:
- CJP Cultuurkaart – discounts for young people under 30 years old
- Studentenkorting.nl – student discounts in Amsterdam
If you experience financial problems during your studies, please contact the CvA Student Counsellor, Heleen de Kam, by email: email@example.com.
Together with you, the student counsellor will look for possible solutions, that will enable you to continue your studies as well as you can or guide you in deciding to defer or discontinue your studies for the time being. Discussions with the student counsellor are confidential and personal information is handled with great care. In general, the sooner you contact the student counsellor, the better advice you can expect to receive.
The National Institute for Budget Information (Nibud) is an independent organisation that informs and advises on financial matters. What does it cost to study? How much borrowing is sensible? Should I live in rooms or at home? Nibud outlines what studying involves.
Health and Safety
Students in need of medical assistance, should contact their general practitioner (GP) by phone. If you do not have a GP, you should register with one as soon as possible. If you are at a loss, you can contact our student counsellor, Heleen de Kam, in case of emergency, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Essential information regarding medical care in the Netherlands
CvA Health Care Programme
Working as a performing musician places physical and mental demands on you, in addition to artistic ones, that should not be underestimated. For a good completion of your training and further career, it is therefore important that you adopt a responsible way of working. To that effect, the Conservatorium van Amsterdam has developed a healthcare programme especially for music students. The scheme lists several healthcare specialists and treatment options, with the emphasis on preventative care. Read more here.
CvA Student psychologist
Psychic tensions can affect your physical well-being and your ability to make music. When these tensions cause you to get stuck, you can turn to the school psychologist.
The psychological consultation hour offers students low-threshold help, support and advice with emotional and psychological problems (depression, low self-esteem, sleeping problems, mental stress).
The psychologist can refer to other care providers if necessary.
For more information and contact details, see MyAHK (login is needed).
Physiotherapy for musicians
The Conservatorium van Amsterdam refers the specific need of music students for physiotherapy to Bleeksma physiotherapy. Physiotherapist Arjen Bleeksma specialises in the recognition, treatment and guidance of physical and mental problems resulting from the specific strain that the profession of a musician can entail.
For more information and contact details, see MyAHK (login is needed).
Please note: appointments are made directly between you and the practice, not via the CvA. The treatment is at your own expense, or at the expense of your health insurance if you have supplementary insurance. To be sure, check your insurance policy.
Confidential Advisor AHK
It is of the utmost importance that everyone at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam can study and work in a pleasant environment. Safety, mutual empathy and respect are conditions for a good working environment and a successful study period. To counter any undesirable sexual intimidation and/or aggression, the AHK offers support by means of a code of conduct, confidential advisers and a complaints procedure. Read more here.
The AHK’s Code of Conduct.
Study and disability
If you need certain facilities or adaptations to access and participate in education and/or taking exams as a result of a (learning) disability (for example dyslexia), you can contact the student counsellor of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. She can refer you to the contact person of your study programme with whom you can discuss which facilities or adjustments you need to be able to progress with your studies. The discussions are confidential. The student counsellor can also refer you to organisations outside the conservatoire. Read more here.
Students in need of medical assistance (corona-related or otherwise), should contact their general practitioner (GP) by phone. If you do not have a GP, please register with one as soon as possible.
If you find yourself at a complete loss, you can contact our student counsellor, Heleen de Kam, at email@example.com, in case of an emergency.
GGD – The Municipal Health Service
The GGD is the executive branch of the municipality in the field of public health. The Amsterdam Public Health Service protects, monitors and promotes the health of Amsterdam residents. This is also called public health care.
You can contact the GGD for, among other things:
- COVID-19 – information on corona testing and vaccination;
- Sexually transmitted diseases (SOA) – such as HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
Health insurance – click here
Narcotics: legislation & CvA school rules
What should students know about use of alcohol and other drugs? What do these substances do to you? What is the effect of their use on your memory and study performance? How can you get through your student days without a hangover? Where can you get your drugs tested? And if you are worried about someone who drinks too much or abuses drugs, where can you turn to?
The answers to these and other questions can be found here.
If you need help
Your student life is a period full of new experiences: a new city, education, house and responsibilities. For many students, this also includes get-togethers, club nights and parties. Sometimes it can be a challenge to find the right balance.
Going to college with a hangover or calling in sick because of a Tuesday slump is not of immediate concern. However, what if it happens often enough to worry you and/or starts to affect your study results? Or if it makes you feel down, anxious or stressed for a prolonged period of time? It is possible that your substance use (or gaming or gambling) has got out of control. Read here what you can do.
Language skills for international students
Lessons at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam are taught in Dutch or English. Therefore, every student at the CvA must have both a passive and active command of Dutch or English.
Almost everyone in the Netherlands speaks English. You will find that the Dutch are very considerate towards non-Dutch speakers and will quickly switch to English to make things easier for them. But it can still be useful to learn a bit of Dutch. Knowing the language will help you understand Dutch culture and society better.
Teaching programme Dutch and English
An English course is taught at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam every year. The course is offered in cooperation with De Taalkamer.
The study secretariat of the CvA can give you more information about this. The CvA study secretariat is open daily from 10.00-12.00 and 14.00-16.00, with the exception of school holidays. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also go to the website of Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam. Here you can find language courses at different levels and for many languages.
Map of religious gatherings in Amsterdam
Many religions are represented in Amsterdam. The most important ones are listed below. Click on the map below to go to the interactive map where you can find addresses for religious gatherings in Amsterdam.
|Evangelical or Pentecostal church|
|Roman Catholic Church|
|Protestant Church Netherlands (PKN)|
|Christian church (other)|