Exchange destinations compared: Netherlands vs the UK and US

Posted at: 23 Dec 2019 | Communication

The United Kingdom, United States and the Netherlands are some of the top destinations for international students. Are you curious about how they differ from each other? As an international student who has studied in all three, from the outskirts of London to near the Atlantic coast and the Dutch capital - I’m here to share my thoughts with you!

Angel at Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena station


Housing is by far the biggest difference between the American, British and Dutch university systems. British universities are defined by flats and American universities are defined by dorm life, while schools in the Netherlands are generally separate from living spaces.

In the Netherlands, you’ll be renting a room or apartment. You also won’t necessarily be living with other students, which is very different from my first two years of uni life, when I studied at the University of Hertfordshire (UK) and the University of North Carolina in Wilmington (USA). If you live in an apartment, you end up gaining more life skills as you’ll learn to live alone. You’ll interact more with urban life and will have to commute through the city to class.


The type of classes and their sizes depend on your study. In the US and UK, practical and theoretical classes are separated, while in the Netherlands they will be on your timetable on the same day. This is why classes in the Netherlands can be longer than other countries.

There are more independent studies here in the Netherlands compared to America and the UK. Examination-wise it is similar to the UK: a room lined with hundreds and hundreds of desks filled with students and the invigilator. ONE thing you shouldn’t forget when taking an exam is a VALID ID OR PASSPORT - otherwise you will not be able to take your exams.

Travel opportunities

The best thing about studying abroad in Europe is being able to travel. It’s easy and affordable via budget airlines and international trains and buses. This is a different story in America, where travelling from state to state can be very expensive. If you study in Amsterdam you’ll have a great chance to explore neighbouring countries. However, don’t also forget to explore the Netherlands - there are lots of places to see and hidden gems that will amaze you.

Study spots

One of the places I like to study on my own is the Library. Studying at home doesn’t work quite well for me sometimes, so I prefer going to the library. It’s a change of scenery as well as a great place to meet my friends and study together. Unlike the UK and America, where universities have separate library buildings, the Netherlands tends to place libraries within the school buildings. Because of this, the library is only open until 5 or 6 pm, which is kind of disappointing as I like to study late at night.

On the other hand, there are a lot of cafés you can visit around Amsterdam for late-night studying. One of my favourites is the Volkshotel, which is open until 1 am every day and 2 am on Sundays. Coffee and Coconuts has a homey vibe where you can even walk barefoot or you can go to Coffee Bru, which is a perfect place to meet your teammates to work on group projects.

I hope this blog helped give you some insights into studying in the Netherlands and at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS). If you have any questions check out my profile and send me a message!

Check out Angel's first impressions of Amsterdam and the AUAS!

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