Living in the Netherlands/ Accommodation in Zwolle
I spent my semester abroad in Zwolle, in the Netherlands. Already after the first days in Zwolle I realized that I like this city best from the places in the Netherlands that I visited before and that has not changed so far. Zwolle has a beautiful center, plenty of cafes and bars to meet with friends and the connection to the airport or other cities by train is very good.
In the Netherlands, it is more common for Erasmus students to live in a student dorm. The University of Windesheim, through the organization SSH, offers all Erasmus students accommodation in a student dorm if they register for it. There are three student dormitories to choose from:
Rijnlaan is a student dorm, which is quite far from the center or the University of Windesheim and is quite expensive (about 400 €). The advantage is, that you have a single room, but you share with 17 other students two kitchens, five toilets and five showers.
The student dorm Talentenplein is located directly in the center. There you share a room with two single beds, kitchen, bathroom and toilet with a roommate. A room costs about 350 €.
In the student dorm Leliestraat also two people share a room, but there are bunk beds. Kitchen and bathroom are also into the room. The room costs about 330 €. I decided not to live in one of the dormitories. It was important to me that I would also have contact with Dutch people and not only with Erasmus students and I wanted to improve my Dutch and also learn more about Dutch culture and the way of living. That’s why I tried to find a room in a shared flat with Dutch people. It was relatively difficult to find an accommodation on my own. Although I have tried very hard to answer all inquiries and have even written in Dutch, I received only five replies out of 29, of which four only wanted a Dutch person and no foreigner. The last request was thank god successful and I was really lucky with my room and especially the location was very good.
Links for the apartment search:
Groups on facebook:
- Kamers gezocht/aangeboden Zwolle
- Studentenkamer Aangeboden Zwolle
- Woningruil & huurwoning & kamer gezocht zwolle en omgeving
I shared a flat with three Dutch women, who were a few years older than me and with whom I could speak Dutch and I had a big room for myself. It was definitely a very interesting experience to live in a Dutch apartment! Challenging was especially to get along with a gas stove and gas oven and to master the very steep stairs to the second floor and down again. I found it particularly nice that it was possible to climb through the window in the ceiling on the roof of the house and then sit together with your neighbors on the roof. We also had a lot of tools for repairing, so I was able to repair my bike and that of many other students on a regular basis, without having to go to a bike shop and pay for it.
Of course, if you are looking for a place to live together with Dutch people, you always need to be happy that you get along well. My roommates were all very nice and helpful and were also very patient when I spoke Dutch with them, but unfortunately, they were very busy themselves and were not really interested in really making friends with me or doing anything together. For example, if it rained all weekend (which was quite often the case), I was forced to go outside if I did not want to be alone all weekend. In a student dorm, you have the advantage that you have enough other students to meet someone if it is raining. In hindsight, however, I have done much more because of this than other Erasmus students, who then often just stayed in the student dorm.
Because I also attended a field of study, wherein total there were only five Erasmus students (two of them were also from my university in Austria), I did not have that much contact with the other Erasmus students, but I found other ways of getting to know people. But that was actually very positive because I had so much more contact than usual to many Dutch people and also got to know the expat’s group in Zwolle and through them, I could make many Dutch and international contacts and friendships. So, I am very glad that I decided not to live in a student dorm, because I could certainly gain more diverse experiences and get to know the hospitality of some Dutch people.
Because of my field of study, I had to do the semester abroad, which is why I was perhaps not so euphoric before the semester abroad, as many others who decide voluntarily for a semester abroad. In hindsight, I’m really happy to spend that time in Zwolle. During these five months, I learned a lot about the Netherlands, the culture, the language and the people there. What I did not expect was that I had learned almost as much about Austria and so also became aware of what I do not know about my own country and what is self-evident for me. I am particularly happy that I was able to really make friends with Dutch so that even now after my Erasmus stay I still have some connection to Zwolle and can continue to improve my Dutch.