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The Netherlands
'"IFMSA - The Netherlands"'
Nederland flag.jpg Nederland logo.jpg
Location EU location NED.png
Participating cities (LC's)

Amsterdam UvA

Languages Dutch
Currency (how much is a Bigmac?) Euro (€); Big mac = 3,50 €
Time zone Central European Time (GMT +1)
Number of Doctors and beds per 1000 people 3.15
Member of IFMSA since... 1951
Number of incoming students per year 90
Who is our NEO Laura Kalkman
Who is our NORE Willeke Ravensbergen
Our official website / Forum / Facebook group (in Dutch)
Come for exchange!

Welcome Note

Welcome to everyone who is interested in an exchange in The Netherlands! We hope you can find all the information you need. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions left. For now…enjoy!

About The Netherlands


The Netherlands has 16.7 million inhabitants. At an average of 480 people per square kilometre, it is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. A large part of the population lives in what is called the Randstad in the west of the country that includes the four major cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. The Dutch population is strongly multicultural. Most dutch people have ancestors who came to The Netherlands as immigrants.

The Dutch people

A striking characteristic of Dutch society is its egalitarian character. Social standing is based more on individual achievement than on origin or birth. The average Dutch person has as an averse to hierarchies. One of the Dutch sayings: ‘acting normally is crazy enough’ is saying it all. The Dutch are also quick to address each other by their first names. Even at school most pupils address their teacher by it’s first name. The Dutch are therefore seen as informal and approachable abroad. They are considered interested and open and are appreciated for their ability to adjust to different customs. Although the Dutch mean it well, their openness and directness is sometimes seen as a lack of manners.

Geography and climate

Full country name: Kingdom of the Netherlands

Area: 41,526 sq km

Population: 16.25 million

Capital City: Amsterdam

Language: Dutch, Frisian

Religion: Christian (52%) (Roman Catholic and Protestant), Muslim (5.3%). Fully 40% of the Dutch say they have no religious affiliation.

Government: constitutional monarchy

Head of State: Queen Beatrix of Oranje Nassau

Major Industries: Service industries, banking, electronics, digital media, horticulture, agriculture and shipping

Major Trading Partners: EU (esp Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, UK, USA

Member of EU: Yes

Valuta: only EURO!


The Netherlands has a maritime climate, because the west-side of the country is bordered by the North sea. Which means that we have cool summers and mild winters. Rainfall is prevalent all year. The summers are generally warm with changeable periods, with average maximum temperatures between 20-25 degrees Celsius. The winter is mild with a temperature averaging between 0-5 degrees Celsius. The maximum temperature is around 10 degrees Celsius, the minimum temperature can be around minus 5 degrees Celsius, usually at night. In winter there’s a possibility to see some snowfall and frozen lakes.

Still, the weather in the Netherlands is very unpredictable and you should be prepared for sudden changes.

Drug and alcohol policy

A lot of students are interested in The Netherlands because of our liberal drug policy. But even here we have rules about the use of (soft)drugs. It is very important to follow these rules, because otherwise it might be dangerous, or you’ll meet the Dutch police in person! We strongly advise you to read this rules and recommendations before you decide to smoke marihuana or hasj.

  • Don’t feel obliged to use drugs, just because you are in a country that is tolerant about the use of it! Not all Dutch people smoke marihuana/hasj…
  • Drugs are not legal! The Dutch government is tolerant about the use of Marihuana and hasj, but all the other drugs are illegal and the police is not tolerant about the use of any other drug. So don’t take them!
  • If you decide to smoke marihuana/hasj there are only two places where you are allowed to do so:
    • A coffeeshop; a pub where they sell marihuana
    • At home
  • It is prohibited to use drugs in the hospital. So please…don’t do it!
  • Only buy drugs in the coffeshops. Don’t buy them on the street. These drugs are often very dangerous!
  • Never carry or buy a big amount of marihuana/hasj. You are only allowed to carry/buy 1 gram.
  • If you decide to use drugs, please do it in a safe environment. The effect of marihuana and hasj is that it enlarges your emotion. So if you feel sad or unsafe, these feelings get stronger!
  • Make sure that you are not alone. This way if you get sick or anything there is someone around to help you. If you are alone, go to bed.
  • You’ll probably be sleepy the next day, so please only use it if you don’t need to be in the hospital early the next day.
  • Don’t use alcohol and marihuana at the same time! It is a very bad combination and you’ll definitely get sick!
  • You can always ask for information about the different drugs in the coffeeshops or smartshops if you are not sure what the

effect will be!

Emergency numbers

We hope you don’t need it, but if you get in any sort of problems here are a few emergency numbers you can call. We advise you to always contact a LEO or NEO as well to help you! You can find their contact details in the ‘Contact details’ topic.

General emergency number: 112

Police if there is no high urgency: 0900 8844


Product prices

Touristic highlights

Everybody knows The Netherlands because of its drug policy, windmills, clogs and tulips. And surprise…we have it all! Take a look at our tourist highlights to make your exchange complete!


De Keukenhof opens its doors in april/may for everyone who loves flowers. It is one of our most famous places and each year thousands of tourists come to The Netherlands to see it. It is an amazing big garden with thousands of flowers. Each year has a different theme and you’ll be amazed by it’s beauty and elegance. If you have a spare day left it’s worth the effort to go there! The Keukenhof is in Lisse. A small town between Leiden and Amsterdam. If you want to go there, just ask the LEO’s how to get there!


About 1100 windmills are left in The Netherlands and only a handful is still in use by hobbyists. There are two known places where you can definitely see them (work). These are the zaanse schans and Kinderdijk. Kinderdijk is included on the UNESCO world heritage list. But in most cities there is at least one left to take a look at. The zaanse schanse is in zaandam near Amsterdam. This is a sight where the don’t only have the windmills, but also a few typical Dutch houses.

The Dutch coast line

Although most people think that it rains for 366 days a year, The Netherlands actually has a beautiful 380-km long coastline where you can spend the hot days in the summer (yes the 366 days of rain is a myth). The coastline is jammed packed with jaw-droppingly beautiful wide sandy beaches, bordered by equally impressive high dunes. The Dutch people love to make a walk along the beach to renew their energy. If the summer arrives with its hot days the Dutch visit the coast en-masse. Especially at the popular beaches of Scheveningen and Zandvoort you can see how densely populated the country is. But this doesn’t make it any less enjoyable! Other nice beaches are in Bloemendaal, Noordwijk, Egmond and Katwijk. For the partygoers there is also enough to do. During the summer there will be a lot of live bands in the festive party tents and parties on the beach!

Besides the coast line, The Netherlands also contains 5 islands which are called the ‘waddeneilanden’. They al lay in the north of the country and are definitely worth a visit. The beaches are beautiful and you can rend a bike to cycle around. The islands are small, so you can see one in a day! There are several boats a day which bring you to one of the islands. If you are interested to go, ask the LEOs for more information!

The bicycle

The Netherlands is the bicycle capital of the world. With its 20 million bicycles it has more bicycles than residents. A trip to The Netherlands isn’t complete without riding a bike at least once. But watch out! Each year over 800 000 bikes are stolen, so make sure you lock it well! Check out the cyclemanual for tips and advices!


There are a lot of museums in The Netherlands which are interesting to visit. We’ll give you a few examples, but don’t hesitate to ask the LEOs for other interesting museums close by.


This world famous museum lies in Amsterdam. It is an art museum with the well-known painting ‘De Nachtwacht’ from Rembrandt van Rijn. The entrance fee is: 14 euro

Anne Frank house

Anne Frank the Jewish girl who wrote the world famous diary. You can actually visit the house where she wrote it! The closet and old chestnut tree are still there. It is definitely word a visit. It’s quite small so it doesn’t take a lot of time, but you will be impressed by the things you’ve seen. The house is in Amsterdam and he entrance fee is 9,50 euro.

Van Gogh Museum

The name already suggests it, but in this museum you can find most of the work from van Gogh. If you are interested in art and/or van Gogh it is word a visit! The museum is in Amsterdam and the entrance fee is 12 euro


Not really a museum but word a visit. Some crazy Dutch people thought it would be nice to rebuild The Netherlands in a scale of 1:100; and actually…it is fun! Madurodam lies in The Hague and it´s great to see a miniature of the canals, windmills and all the other famous sites. The entrance fee is 14,50 euro


The Dutch people are sometimes called ‘cheese heads’ and in a sense that is true! Dutch people love cheese and you can buy (too) many different cheeses everywhere. The villages Gouda and Edam are world famous because of their cheese, but the biggest cheese market takes place in Alkmaar. At this market you get a good illustration of how the cheese trade operated centuries ago. The famous cheese carriers, who formed a guild as early as 1619, still run the market from spring to autumn. So, if you love cheese, it’s definitely worth a visit!

Dutch festivities

The saying ‘acting normally is crazy enough’ counts for most of the year, but there are three opportunities when Dutch people really go crazy! If you are in The Netherlands around that time…party with us!

Koningsdag (kingsday)

Everything is orange! On this day at april 26th (for 2014) the Dutch celebrate the birthday of their king Willem-Alexander. It is a national holiday and it is celebrated through the whole country. In most towns and villages large markets are held, surrounded by all manner of festivities. Full of good cheer and draped in orange, the Dutch enjoy the market stalls and terraces and the party ends in firework and, for many, a hefty orange hangover! Ask your LEOs for some information about activities in your city!


Every two years either the World championship or European championship in football takes place. If the Dutch team is participating, which of course we expect, it is great fun! It is an excuse to dress up in orange again, and go out. Most people are going out to see the match in a pub or at a friends place. One way or another, the Dutch are really proud of their football team! The next world championship will be in 2014 The next European championship will be in 2016

Local & National transportation

When travelling by tram, subway or bus, you can use the same ticket for all the buses, trams and subways throughout the country, the ‘strippenkaart’. Tickets are valid for a number of travel zones and for a specific time, based on the number of zones crossed. You can buy tickets in the bus, but a strippenkaart with 15 or 45 units, available at the railway station or the post office, is much cheaper. If you expect to be traveling by bus at least four days a week, it might be cheaper for you to buy a monthly pass at the railway station.


For nation-wide travel, the train is the best option. For travel information you can check the electronic timetable of the Dutch railways via the internet or

You can click there a on the ´English’ button on the top of the page for the English version of the website and travel planner. In the west part of the country, there are also night trains.


The cheapest way to drive through town is by bus. Most buses drive from 7 am till 12 pm.


Dutch food and recipes

As indicated in the famous painting by Vincent van Gogh (the aardappeleters, meaning "potato eaters"), the main ingredient in old-fashioned Dutch dinners is potatoes, usually accompanied by meat and boiled vegetables. The dutch traditionally don't use very sharp spices and are very fond of pouring gravy onto everything. The dutch have however always been internationally orientated and nowadays you can expect to find meals varying from Italy to the Orient and from China to Afrika on Dutch dinnertables, especially amongst younger people. The consumption of dairy products is extremely high, which, according to some scientists, accounts for the high average height of Dutch men and women. The dutch generally eat three meals a day. Dinner (around 6 pm) is the main meal for most people, but some rural families and older people retain the tradition of eating the main meal at midday.

Some typical Dutch delights:

  • Vla: a thick sweet milk pudding which is similar to English custard, made mainly from milk and offered in a variety of tastes ranging from vanilla and chocolate to strawberry. If you get the chance, you must try hopjes-vla and bitterkoekjes-vla which have a very typical and also unexplainable tastes.
  • Karnemelk: literally 'churned milk' (buttermilk). It has a thin substance and is rather sour. It is supposed to be quite healthy, but admittedly you must acquire a taste for it.
  • Hagelslag: traditionally lots of chocolate-snippers which the Dutch sprinkle on their bread. Nowadays it comes in quite a number of (chocolate-) varieties. You can buy this in almost every supermarket.
  • Haring: a typical Dutch delicacy is eating a raw herring (fish) with raw onions. You pick the fish up by the tail and let it slide into your mouth gradually. Of course the head is removed and the fish has been cleaned. The first catch of the season is called Hollandse nieuwe ('Dutch new') and is considered a special treat.
  • Stamppot: a very down-to-earth meal consisting of mashed potatoes with varying ingredients like carrot (wortel stamppot), kale (boerenkool stampot) or endive (andijvie stamppot) and usually served with rookworst, a delicious, smoked, juicy, mild sausage.
  • Pea Soup: Another famous Dutch delight. Dutch pea soup is a meal in itself and is full of fresh winter vegetables and chunks of bacon and sausage. You should be able to stand a spoon upright in a good pea soup.
  • Stroopwafel: is a unique type of cookie that has been around for centuries. They are made with two thin wafle-type wafers that have a very special caramel filling. The waffle is cooked at a very high temperature on a waffle iron then sliced in half. The syrup then spread on and the two halves come together again.
  • Vlaai: this a pastry or a sweet pie typical of the southern regions of the Netherlands (Limburg and Brabant) but available all through the country. It comes in many different varieties and usually contains some kind of fruit filling.
  • Drop: a sweet (liquorice) that comes in a very large number of different forms and tastes, from salt and hard to soft and sweet. It is very popular among the entire Dutch population and is claimed to have something of an addictive-effect if eaten regularly in very large quantities.
  • Poffertjes: these resemble very small pancakes and are traditionally served warm with lots of powdered sugar sprinkled on top. You can make them at home if you have a special pan, but it might be easier to go to a poffertjeskraam (kraam is literally a market stall, but also indicates larger eating-houses) and get them ready made.

How to speak Dutch

goedemorgen, goedemiddag, goedenavond, goedenacht good morning, good afternoon, good evening, good night
meneer, mevrouw sir, madam
wie, wat, waar, wanneer, waarom, hoe, welk(e)? who, what, where, when, why, how, which?
Dank u wel Thank you
Graag gedaan! You're welcome
Neemt u mij niet kwalijk! Excuse me!
Mag ik u iets vragen? May I ask you something?
Ja, natuurlijk Yes, ofcourse
Wat wilt u weten/vragen? What would you like to know/ask?
Ik wil graag weten of..... I would like to know if.....
Waar vind ik ...... Where do I find.....
Is er een ..... Is there a.....
Spreekt u (taal) Do you speak (language)
Nederlands, Engels, Duits, Frans, Spaans Dutch, English, German, French, Spanish
Nee, het spijt me. No, I am sorry.
Wat betekent.....? What does......mean?
Hoe spreekt u dat uit? How do you pronounce it?
Kunt u het herhalen? Could you repeat that?
Kunt u iets langzamer spreken? Could you speak more slowly?
Ik begrijp het (niet) I (don't) understand.
Wat is je naam/ Hoe heet je? What is your name?
My name is .....
Leuk u te ontmoeten Nice to meet you
Hoe maakt u het? How do you do?
Hoe gaat het met u? How are you?
Heel goed, dank u Very well, thank you.
Ik ben boos/blij/verdrietig I am angry/happy/sad
Tot ziens See you
Leuk u ontmoet te hebben Nice to have met you
Hoe laat is het? What time is it?
Ja, nee Yes, no

To do's


Shortly you will be a guest of a hospital in the Netherlands and you will be employed during your stay. For a while you are actually a staff member. That is why the hospital wants to carry out an entrance examination with regard to infectious diseases; every staff member has to attend this examination. This examination is meant to see whether you are medically suitable to carry out the intended work, without exposing your own health and that of others to danger. Moreover, the hospitals acknowledges a preventative hepatitis B policy with which every new staff member and guests, depending on their work, are obligatorily vaccinated or protected against hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B

Everyday, patients and staff members run the risk of becoming infected with the hepatitis B virus. For instance through jab, cut and splash accidents or by way of open wounds or eczema. Carefully carrying out work is obviously the best way of preventing such accidents. Within the hospitals, guidelines on working safely have been drawn up. Ask the person in charge of the ward where you will carry out work for access and explanation of the guidelines. The hospitals have a hepatitis B policy to reduce the chance of infection. The obligatory vaccination or even protection against hepatitis B applies to new staff members (as well as guests, students, interns) before commencing work. This obligation depends on the risk people run of contracting the hepatitis B virus or the risk they present to patients in their work. To prevent being faced with an unfortunate surprise, it is best when you have yourself screened in your own hospital for carriership and be vaccinated against hepatitis B. When you bring the official data concerning vaccination, buildup resistance and carriership with you, they will register your details (vaccination passport or original laboratory results) here. Only when lacking clear official data, doubts or uncertainties, you will be screened here for carriership and build-up resistance and/or vaccinated. This does however mean that you probably cannot carry out all of your duties. It is therefore important to make sure that all data are supplied correctly.


Tuberculosis Depending on your country of origin, your work and place of work in the hospital, the hospital wish to screen you for a possible TB contagion before you commence work. To determine whether you should be screened for TB, some hospitals sends you the ‘Questionnaire Infectious Diseases’ with a survey of countries with a high TB risk, and wards within the hospital for which TB examination is necessary. By filling in this form you will be able to determine whether TB tests are necessary in your situation. Screening for a TB contagion can be carried out with a Mantoux test or an X-thorax. In both cases it will take several days before the results are known. Until that time you are not permitted to work in the hospital. It is efficient when, if necessary, you have yourself screened for TB in your own hospital. Copies of official data concerning a TB screening that are not older than 6 months will be regarded as sufficient proof. By filling in details on the ‘Questionnaire Infectious Diseases’, the signing thereof and by enclosing the official data, you comply with the demands concerning data provision. Only when lacking clear official data, doubt or uncertainties you will be screened for TB here. As contraindications for a Mantoux test apply:

<P>- Foreign nationals born before 01-01-1972

- persons with a demonstrated tubercular infection in the anamnesis

- persons with a BCG vaccination in the anamnesis

- persons with a documented positive Mantoux in the past


When you arrive from abroad, you should, in principle, always be screened for MRSA with a throat and nose culture. We advise you to have this examined before you leave for the Netherlands. When you have had unprotected contact with an MRSA patient in a hospital or social service institution, you must be able to submit a withdrawal culture, from which can be proven that you cultured negative for MRSA. In the hospital you are always screened again for MRSA with a throat and nose culture. It takes 3-5 days before the results of these cultures are known. In expectation of this result you are permitted to carry out your work. If you do not bring an official declaration of a negative withdrawal culture, you are not permitted to start carrying out your work in the hospital in expectation of the culture. It is only possible to start in expectation of the result when you will work on a non-surgical department. If your internship is on a surgical department, you have to wait for the results of the MRSA-test in the Netherlands.

What to bring?

Hepatitis B vaccination data

- Copy of your official vaccination data (passport with vaccination dates, date titre definition, titre value, nature of the vaccination, official laboratory results of carriership examination)

TB data

- Data concerning previously carried out TB screenings (data and official results of Mantoux tests or x-rays)

- Data concerning BCG vaccination

- If you are placed in the LC of Leiden, you don't need to bring TB data

MRSA data

- Data of the most recently carried out MRSA screening (only official results/ declarations are valid). This needs to be done one month in advance.


Obtain a health insurance BEFORE departing for the Netherlands as International students in the Netherlands are required by law to have adequate health and third party liability insurance. Proof that you are adequately insured is at times also necessary to obtain a visa or to be properly registered at the academic hospital for the period of your elective. Health insurance protects you against financial consequences in case of any medical assistance or medication required during your stay in the Netherlands. Since dental care is an optional element in most healthcare packages, please check whether this is covered.

Also take out comprehensive liability insurance. Third party liability insurance protects you against financial consequences in the event of damage being caused accidentally to another person or to their possessions. Liability insurance can be obtained in the Netherlands after arrival. Health insurance can also be obtained after arrival, however, as previously mentioned you might be required to obtain it prior to your arrival for administrative reasons.

Some academic centers in the Netherlands will provide you with an authorized ID-badge (depending on where you are placed for your elective). This ID-badge will act as an insurance card for medical and legal liability on hospital grounds ONLY. We therefore strongly advise you to obtain additional legal liability insurance.

There are two private insurance groups that we advise you to contact to obtain health and legal liability insurance:

1. Lippman (

2. AON Consulting (

Both insurance groups offer similar coverage for about 40 euros/month for non-EU students. Visit the web-sites for further information. You can obtain the insurance policies by filling out an on-line electronic application form, the official insurance statement will then be emailed to you or sent to your home address/ visiting address in the Netherlands. Please do not hesitate to contact the Local or National Exchange Officers for assistance in obtaining health or liability insurance.

Our health care system

The hospitals

In The Netherlands we have 8 local committees, of which 6 are SCOPE active. For more information about each city and the hospitals please go to their information page.

Amsterdam UvA: Academic Medical Center (AMC)

Groningen: University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) or Martini Hospital

Leiden: Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC)

Nijmegen: University Medical Center (UMC) St. Radboud

Rotterdam: Erasmus Medical Center (EMC)

Utrecht: Utrecht Medical Center (UMC)

Cultural differences

Working hours

Working hours depend on the department you are in. In general they expect you to be at the department from 8.30 - 17.00.

If you want a free day, or come a couple of hours later, of leave earlier, there is always a possiblity. You have to discuss this with your tutor though, because otherwise they will call the LEOs where you are!! So don't just leave or don't show up, call the department! Also if you are sick.

Language in hospitals

Most Dutch people can speak English. The main language in the hospitals is Dutch though. Doctors want to explain things in English to you, but most of the time they speak Dutch with the patients. This is to be sure there is no misunderstanding. So prepare yourself, that you probably won't understand everything that is going on. Remember though that the doctors are taking you as much in account as possible, but that it is not always possible to talk in English.

National Social program

During the summer months of July and August, IFMSA-The Netherlands organizes a National Social Program (NSP) for all foreign students attending either a Professional or Research Exchange in our country. The NSP’s are organized in the cities of Amsterdam, Leiden, Utrecht and Maastricht.

The program of the summer of 2014 is:

Will be organised in July and August. The exact dates will be announced later!

Every student can participate in the social program. You will receive an NSP booklet with further information mid-june. A facebook group is made and every student is welcome to join! The name is: National Social Program - The Netherlands 2012

Exchange conditions

Contact details

Contact details NEO: Contact details NORE:

Cities offered for exchange

Amsterdam UvA

Amsterdam VUmc