Introduction activities August 2019

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is looking forward to welcoming all new international students in August 2019!

During your first days, the International Office will arrange several activities in order to help you become acquainted with the city of Amsterdam and the university campus, to get to know your fellow students and, of course, to have fun! Our introduction team is working hard to put together an engaging and informative programme especially for you! The Arrival Days and Introduction Week will take place from Monday 19 August until Tuesday 27 August 2019. You don't want to miss out, so please mark these days in your agenda!

The Arrival Days and the Introduction Week are offered by the VU International Office and it is free of charge for international exchange students.

Integration into Dutch culture

Successful integration into Dutch culture and making our international students feel at home and connected are key values of VU Amsterdam.  In this regard, the Introduction Week is specially designed to get our international students off to a good start. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you participate in the VU Amsterdam Introduction Week!

Moving to Amsterdam to continue your academic career at a university abroad is both an exhilarating and perhaps slightly scary experience. After all, you will be alone in an unfamiliar place. We know it can be difficult to know where to go, what to do, how to organise, and what to prioritise. The Introduction Week offered by VU Amsterdam plays a crucial role in offering a soft landing for international students and prepares you for your new life in Amsterdam.

In order to ensure that our international students can get in touch with their Dutch peers more easily and get used to Dutch culture, we have several elements planned during the Introduction Week which will stimulate integration:

Mentors. We have roughly 30 Dutch students on board who have studied abroad themselves. They will be there during the Arrival Days to help out during the events of Introduction Week. This is an easy and accessible way to already get in contact with some Dutch peers.

Study Associations. Study associations are an important part of the Dutch study culture. Therefore we invited several study associations to the Arrival Days. By becoming a member of a study association, international students will immediately have access to a vast network of Dutch students. Through these associations they can participate in events which will enable them to make friends quickly and which will ultimately make them feel more rooted in the Netherlands and Amsterdam.

Sports and Culture Associations. Participating in something you love to do is one of the easiest ways to connect with other people. Therefore, we have invited several associations to participate in the Sports and Culture Day.

How to Make it at VU. This event will include intercultural classes and classes on Dutch culture as well as a Dutch crash course. This program is designed to:

  • Help you develop intercultural competencies to connect with people from different backgrounds and to perform effectively in highly diverse environments.
  • Explain the educational style in the Netherlands and its main characteristics. Many students do not realize that courses can be taught in different styles and that the style you are used to in your own country probably differs from the methods used at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. You might make the mistake of entering a study programme in the Netherlands with a set of values and expectations developed in your own country, culture, and previous education.
  • Provide an overview of the activities organized by the International Office to help you plan your future career development.
  • Equip you with basic Dutch phrases and (funny) facts about Dutch culture. Don’t be surprised if at the end of your stay you can’t get the word ‘gezellig’ out of your vocabulary or if ‘stroopwafels’ become your new favorite treat!


Friday 16 & Monday 19 August: Key pick-up

Once you’ve arrived in Amsterdam, the first thing you want to do, is pick up the keys to your new home. If you arranged your accommodation via VU International Office AND you have a room reserved at the housing corporation DUWO you can collect your keys on Friday 16 August and Monday 19 August at Uilenstede (Il Caffe).

If you have reserved a room at one of our other housing corporations you will be informed by email regarding the key-pick up procedure. At a later time, we will also publish this information on this website.

Monday 19 & Tuesday 20 August: Arrival Days

The Arrival Days are part of the Introduction Week. As you can see in the schedule below, our official Arrival Days will take place on Monday 19 August and Tuesday 20 August. Depending on the day you arrive in Amsterdam, you can choose which day works best with your schedule to complete the practicalities. During the Arrival Days you can arrange all practical matters regarding your registration at VU Amsterdam, meet the incoming exchange team, register with the municipality, pick up your student card and much more!

What can you expect during the Arrival Days?
Starting from 19 August, the International Office will host the Arrival Days to welcome you to VU Amsterdam. We hope to meet you all then! To give you an idea of which matters to take care of and in which order, we have included an explanation and overview below.

  • Register with the municipality in order to receive a personal public service number (BSN). You will need the BSN to open a bank account, to take out health care, and to apply for benefits or allowance in the Netherlands. Please note that you can only register with the municipality if you arranged accommodation via VU Amsterdam or if you already have an address in Amsterdam, Amstelveen or elsewhere.
  • Arrange all practical matters regarding your registration at VU Amsterdam, meet the incoming exchange team, pick-up your student card, get to know ESN VU Amsterdam, and much more.

Depending on the Arrival Day of your choice, you can follow the programme as listed below. As you can see, the programme for both days is exactly the same.

Monday 19 August
Tuesday 20 August
Register with the Municipality at BelleVUe, VU Amsterdam main building
9:00AM - 4:30PM
Register with the Municipality at BelleVUe, VU Amsterdam main building
9:00AM - 4:30PM
Visit the campus to arrange all practical matters regarding your registration at BelleVUe, VU Amsterdam main building
9:00AM - 4:30PM
Visit the campus to arrange all practical matters regarding your registration at BelleVUe, VU Amsterdam main building
9:00AM - 4:30PM

Wednesday 21 August: Word of Welcome & Scavenger Hunt

Word of Welcome
After the Arrival Days, you will be officially welcomed by VU Amsterdam during the Word of Welcome which will take place in the Aula located in the main building. You will receive a warm welcome by the rector of VU Amsterdam Vinod Subramaniam. The World of Welcome starts at 10:30AM and lasts until 12:00.


  • 10:15                 Doors open
  • 10:45 - 11:00     Introduction by Stipo Jelec, Chairman of the day
  • 11:00 - 11:10     Welcome by Vinod Subramaniam, Rector Magnificus VU Amsterdam
  • 11:10 - 11:25     Herbert Bos, Professor at VU Amsterdam
  • 11:25 - 11:40     Geerte Udo, Guest speaker, Marketing Director IAmsterdam
  • 11:40 - 11:50     Kelsey Sibley, VU alumna, Global Head of Employee Engagement Heineken
  • 11:50 - 11:55     Closing speech by Stipo Jelec, Chairman of the day
  • 12:00                  End World of Welcome

Scavenger Hunt
What better way to explore the amazing city of Amsterdam by foot while competing with your fellow students? Strolling through the city centre, each group of students will have to complete a number of assignments. We will end the activity at a well-known bar in the city centre. Naturally, the first drink is on us and it's also good to know that the venue will be offering a burger and fries at a reasonable price. And, of course, there will be a (very Dutch) prize for the winning group!

The Scavenger Hunt starts after the Word of Welcome in the main hall (ground floor, main building).

Thursday 22 August: How to make it at VU

Studying abroad will surely provide a student with great opportunities. Besides academic knowledge it will teach the student much more, as getting out of one’s comfort zone can certainly equip an individual for future challenges.  In today’s world it’s extremely important to be able to connect with people from different backgrounds, and to perform in a highly diverse environment. During 'How to make it at the VU' several speakers will speak about intercultural communication, career services and the services of International Office. A Dutch crash course is also part of the programme.

How to make it at the VU starts at 10:30AM and lasts until 4:30 PM.

Location: Initium OB-60

Important notice: due to the overwhelming interest in this event, and the fact that Initium can host a maximum of 550 students, we will be opening an extra room where we will livestream the How to Make it at VU event. The event will be livestreamed in room KC07, located on the ground floor of the main building.

10:30 – 10:45 Word of welcome

Studying abroad presents international students with exciting opportunities; however, with these opportunities come challenges that they need to overcome. These include culture shock, language barriers, difficulties in adapting to a different educational environment and socio-cultural issues.

In order to help students overcome these issues, the How to Make it at the VU event has been set up, presenting students with the necessary tools to identify the issues at hand, to learn how to cope with situations caused by the dynamics of a different academic and/or cultural structure, and to get a first impression of what Dutch (educational) culture entails.

10:45 – 11:15 Motivational speaker

To be annouced

11:15 – 12:15 Workshop intercultural competences - Nita Korsten

In today’s world it’s extremely important to be able to connect with people from different backgrounds, and to perform in a highly diverse environment.  In this presentation we will cover the intercultural competencies that you can develop to communicate effectively and to benefit from cultural diversity.

Nita Korsten is a Dutch Intercultural Business Professional whoco-founded Crust Young, a management consultancy that is active in both the Netherlands and the U.S., and that specializes in facilitating intercultural collaboration. Nita shows clients how to make sense of their cross-cultural realities and how to use diversity to their advantage. With over 25 years of experience as a trainer, consultant and managing director in an international company, she brings her knowledge and passion to each project.  Nita has considerable and hands-on experience of living and working abroad and has traveled extensively through various parts of the world.

12:15 – 13:00 Break

13: 00 – 14:00 Presentation on academic environment, followed by student panel – Neira Becar

The educational environment in the Netherlands can be perceived as quite different to that in other countries. Not only do lecturers expect a high level of independence in preparing your assignments and exams, the way that materials and academic knowledge is presented can cause you to ask yourself whether you are doing sufficient in order to pass your course. The grading system often raises many questions, as does the definition of notions such as plagiarism and fraud. During this presentation we hope to inform you about what you can expect from the Dutch educational system. The presentation will be followed by an international student panel, who will share their experiences about how they perceived the Dutch classroom when they first came to study at VU Amsterdam.

14:00 – 14:15 Student psychological counselors

The psychological and social challenges of studying abroad are often overlooked in the preparatory stages of arranging your stay in a different county. However, surveys conducted amongst the international students, as well as past experiences within the international office show that a large number of students faces study related issues, psychological issues and difficulties in dealing with feelings of loneliness and homesickness. Our student counselors are experiences psychologists and specialized in study-related questions and concerns and offer both individual counseling and training programs for students.

14:15 – 15:00 Jellinek

The Netherlands is known for its tolerant policy on drugs, but what most people do not realize is that drugs are officially illegal in the Netherlands. Understanding Dutch drug policy can save you a lot of problems. Jellinek is the capital’s expert when it comes to drugs and alcohol use. Its representatives will share their knowledge about the effects and dangers of the most common recreational substances used at this time in Amsterdam nightlife.

15:00 – 15:20 Bike boys presentation on safe biking

Rendel and Thijs started the Bike Boys in September 2016. Being students themselves, they kept hearing stories from international students who had purchased bikes at a very high price, or bikes which did not meet quality standards. Being a student to student organization, since the start of the Bike Boys in 2016, Rendel and Thijs have sold and rented out hundreds of bikes to international students. Safety is a very important aspect of the services that they offer, as cycling in Amsterdam can be quite intense. During this presentation they will give you some important tips on how to navigate the streets of Amsterdam, and how to blend in with the locals cycling-wise.

15:30 – 16:30 Crash course Dutch

Koentact: there’s a reason this language school claims to teach Dutch the fun way. Bringing never-ending energy and a large dose of humor to the classroom, their last crash course Dutch left more than 400 students with a smile on their face. After attending the crash course, you will learn some of the basics of the Dutch language, allowing you to pronounce the infamous ‘ggg’ sound, order a drink, and potentially even flirt with a local.

Friday 23 August: Campus Tour

Join us for the Campus Tour and get to know the VU campus!

During the tour you will be introduced to all hotspots of the main VU building such as the library, the security office, the university restaurant, study areas and learn of hidden gems such as the rooftop terrace. You will also receive a short overview of other faculty buildings, visit the botanical gardens and learn about VU Amsterdam's history.

After registration, you will receive the time and the location of the event.

Monday 26 August: Sports and Culture Day

This day is organized to give you an idea of what the VU Sports Centre and Cultural Centre Griffioen have to offer.

Sports programme

Sporthal 1                      
Sporthal 2                       
Fitness centre                     
01:00PM - 05:00PM  
Indoor soccer                 

01:00PM - 05:00PM

01:00PM - 05:00PM
Fitness (free practice)

Studio 1                
Studio 2
Studio 3  
Martial arts room
01:30PM - 02:30PM  
Pole dancing            
02:30PM - 03:30PM
Pole dancing
03:30PM - 04:30PM
Pole dancing

Cultural programme

Griffioen room            
Feniks room                     
Pop room                             
01:00PM - 02:00PM  
02:00PM - 03:00PM
Urban fusion

03:00PM - 04:00PM

Urban fusion
04:00PM - 05:00PM



Please note that there is no sign-up in advance. It's first come, first served. Important: the cultural workshops (salsa, urban fusion, percussion) have a limited capacity. Full = full.

Sport Centre, Uilenstede 100, 1183AM Amstelveen
Griffioen, Uilenstede 106, 1183AM Amstelveen

Tuesday 27 August: Greater Amsterdam & Closing Party

Greater Amsterdam
To truly experience Amsterdam, be sure to head out beyond the borders of the city centre and explore the wider Amsterdam Area with these top day trips. In less than 30 minutes from Amsterdam, you'll find beautiful cities such as Haarlem, the majestic windmills at Zaanse Schans and historic towns like Volendam. By visiting these places you'll see more than just Amsterdam.

The activities as part of Greater Amsterdam are fully booked.

What better way to end your first week in Amsterdam with a party at not one, but two great venues? The Closing Party is a great way to celebrate both the end of your first week here, but also the start of a new academic adventure in Amsterdam. Between the two locations, it is only a 2-minute walk.

Paradiso, Weteringschans 6-8, 1017SG Amsterdam
Melkweg, Lijnbaansgracht 234-A, 1017PH Amsterdam

The Closing Party starts at 10:00PM and lasts until 4:00AM.