Tips for students setting up home in the Netherlands, from a ‘new arrival’

Tips for students setting up home in the Netherlands, from a ‘new arrival’

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Student Hallie Engel feels duped by Duwo after finding all the furniture they supplied her to be “much cheaper” in shops around town, but she manages to pick up some good deals here and there…

After a few months in the Netherlands, I have a trove of advice for foreign students.  Watch out for the tram tracks when you’re on bicycle, or you may take a nasty spill and sport a big purple bruise on your derriere for a couple of weeks as I did in September.  Take advantage of sales at Albert Hein and stock up on the good stuff when it’s discounted.  Pack an umbrella in your bag, even when the sun is shining.  

And never buy furniture from Duwo, the student-housing group.  They’ll try and seduce you with a long list of items, from chairs to flat screen TVs, with promises of having everything set up and waiting when you arrive in your new home.  Their burly workmen will come to your home and, like helpful elves, silently arrange your new wardrobe and desk.  I fell for their charms, and while I admit that it was nice to clamber off my flight from Dubai and into a room with a waiting bed, I am still reeling from the aftershock of the following week when I noticed all of the items I’d purchased from Duwo for sale in shops around town at much lower prices.

Of course, the Dutch students knew better than I and didn’t purchase anything through Duwo, but they have parents to take them shopping and schlep everything over to their new places in a car.  Arriving in a country where I had nary a friend, I wasn’t sure how to go about procuring the accessories required for finer living, or whether there would be a place to purchase them anywhere near my new home in a far flung corner of East Amsterdam. 


When I spotted a branch of Praxis, the Dutch superstore for home wares, bang at the end of my block, I got a bad feeling.  Upon going inside and seeing the same fridge I’d purchased from Duwo for EUR 100 less, my blood began to boil.  The situation worsened when I walked past a bed shop later that day and found that I could’ve purchased a comfy queen-sized number for less than I’d paid for the humble twin I sleep on.  

Not that I haven’t saved money in creative ways, helping to make up for the fleecing.  The blue chair at my computer desk was salvaged from the curb by my building, a cast-off of a former neighbour.  My cosy sofa was like a gift from above: I opened my door one morning, and it was sitting in my hallway, begging me to adopt it.  I suspect a few fellow students had placed it there engaging in a little booze-fuelled roughhousing; their loss, my gain.  

My wall is decorated with vintage album covers from the 60s and 70s, which I found on the street one night while bicycling back from a visit to the corner pub; if I hadn’t grabbed them, they would’ve probably ended up at Waterloopleinmarkt. 

Photo Youtube footage
Waterloopleinmarkt

My solitary wine glass was nicked from the balcony on my floor.  I observed it for a week, after which I decided it was officially abandoned and for the taking.  If someone forgets another, I’ll have a set--all the better to enjoy those three-euro bottles of Albert Hein wine, which might go on sale again soon…

 

Hallie Engel is an American student and budding writer living in the Netherlands.   

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