The Netherlands is one of the European Union member countries that changed its currency to the Euro on 1 January 2002.
The most common place to change money is a bank, or a so-called Grenswisselkantoor (GWK). In Maastricht you will find a GWK at the central railway station.
Banks are open on working days and during working hours. Normally they are closed on Saturdays but there are a few exceptions. Check the website of the particular bank you are interested in. On Sunday’s every bank is closed.
Paying for things
There are basically four ways to pay for things in the Netherlands:
1. in cash
2. with a debit card
3. with a credit card
4. through electronic banking
Paying in cash is common, although the use of bank cards (the Dutch words used in connection with bank cards are pin, pinpas and pinnen) is increasingly replacing cash payments.
Opening a Dutch bank account
Having a Dutch bank account is convenient for a lot of monetary transactions in the Netherlands. If you would like to open a Dutch bank account, ING Bank has accounts that cater specifically to students. However, students are free to open an account at any bank in the Netherlands. Each bank has its own requirements and features. Providing you get a so-called World Pass, you will be able to withdraw money from any ATM machine in Europe (so not only in the Netherlands). This will be free in all the Euro countries, whereas if you use your home country account you will probably have to pay each time you withdraw money from an ATM. You will be able to use your card plus PIN code to pay in stores and supermarkets in the Netherlands, and even in an increasing number of stores abroad. For information on how to open a bank account at ING Bank refer to the information on the UM webpage
The Visa Office helps prospective and current students with obtaining, changing and extending visas and residence permits. Students who have to obtain a residence permit for the Netherlands should also report to the City Hall (in Dutch: Gemeente Maastricht) in order to register themselves in the city registrations database. Please note that the City Hall does not issue residence permits!
Most exchange students end up staying at the Guesthouse UM. The buildings are located in the vicinity of the Faculties and are easily accessible by bike or on foot. Unfortunately SBE cannot guarantee that all students who apply for a room at the Guesthouse actually get a room. Applications are processed on a first-come-first-served basis, and we have no influence on that process. Reserving a room at the Guesthouse UM is possible via the on-line reservation system at www.maastrichthousing.com
How to find housing on your own?
Of course exchange students are not obliged to get a room in the Guesthouse UM, even though it is the easiest option. Students can also find a room on the private market. www.maastrichthousing.com: acts as intermediary for the local housing corporations in the so-called “social” rent sector, and is also the portal for the Guesthouse UM.
It may be good to realise that the International Relations Office At SBE cannot and will not interfere on your behalf in case of Problems, issues or even legal disputes, neither with Guesthouse UM, MaastrichtHousing, nor with the corporations and private persons, students or landlords linked to MaastrichtHousing or otherwise. Instead, consult with your own lawyer or the Student Law Agency.
General Practitioner (in Dutch: Huisarts)
The ‘huisarts’ is a General Practitioner (GP), also referred to as family doctor. If you need medical assistance you go to the GP. Only if you cannot leave your house the GP will make a house call. If the GP thinks you need more specialised expertise, you will receive a referral for a specialist in the hospital. Without the referral you cannot see a specialist in the hospital.
If you need to see a doctor between 17.00 hrs and 08.00 hrs, in the weekend or on public holidays (when the family doctors can no longer be reached) call +31 (0)43-387 77 77, and make an appointment to go to the “Huisartsenpost” near the Emergency Room of the hospital.
ONLY make an appointment with the Huisartsenpost if there is an emergency. Otherwise just contact a GP on the next working day.
Check www.hapmaastricht.nl for more information and to find an up-to-date list of General Practitioners in Maastricht and the surrounding area.
• Always call first to make an appointment
• Take a copy of your European Health Insurance Card (or other proof of health insurance) with you when you go to see a doctor.
• Take money with you to pay for the consultation. Sometimes the proof of insurance is not sufficient.
• If you do have to pay for the consultation immediately make sure you get a receipt so that you claim it from your insurance afterwards.
Pharmacy (in Dutch: apotheek)
The GP may recommend medication and give you a prescription (in Dutch: 'recept'). You can buy prescription drugs at a pharmacy. Pharmacies also sell over the counter (non-prescription) drugs, vitamins, medical supplies etc. Drugstore (in Dutch: drogisterij) A drugstore never sells prescription drugs; it only sells over the counter remedies such as throat lozenges, syrups, homeopathic medicines and pain relievers, as well as toiletries, cosmetics, cleaning supplies etc.
Hospital / Maastricht UMC+ (Maastricht University Medical Center+)
You cannot go and see a specialist at the hospital without a referral from the GP. Also, always make an appointment first.
Dentist (in Dutch: tandarts)
Near SBE: Tandartspraktijk van Nouhuys, Hertogsingel 89B, Maastricht. Tel.: +31 (0)43-321 17 36 Near the main location of the Guesthouse UM: Dental Clinics Maastricht, Koningin Emmaplein 10, Maastricht. Tel.: +31 (0)43-325 15 45 You can also check the phone book for other suggestions.
Note: not all medical insurances cover dental costs, so please check this before you make an appointment.
Physiotherapist (in Dutch: fysiotherapeut)
You do not need a referral from a family doctor for an appointment with a physiotherapist. You can just call for an appointment. Please check with your insurance if they reimburse the costs, which you pay in cash and for which you need to ask a receipt. There is a physiotherapist in Maastricht situated in the Céramique Area: Fysiotherapie Céramique, Duitse Poort 11, Maastricht. Tel. : +31 (0)43-351 05 01 email@example.com
Institute for Ambulatory Mental Health in Limburg. Offers help to addicted people, and people who need psychiatric aid. The website is in Dutch, so if you need assistance contact the IRO via firstname.lastname@example.org
In case of an emergency, call the national emergency number 112. Here they will inquire whether you need an ambulance, the police or the fire department and will connect you to the right department. If you need the police but it is NOT an emergency, please call 0900 8844.
At the moment of publication of this guide, coffee shops in the Netherlands are private clubs, and only official residents of the Netherlands who are aged 18 years or older will be eligible for membership (which means allowed to buy soft drugs; hard drugs remain illegal!). The names and details of all members will be recorded on a membership list and checked every single time. If you are NOT a member you will NOT be allowed to enter the coffee shop to buy marijuana or hashish (or a cup of coffee, for that matter).
The drug buying policy as implemented per 1 January 2013 has been subjected to a lot of scrutiny, and as a result the actual rules differ from week to week, and from city to city. Bottom line: check the rules BEFORE you enter a coffee shop, and NEVER buy hard drugs. www.government.nl/issues/drugs
If you are staying at the Guesthouse UM please note: Dealing in and possession of soft drugs and hard drugs is forbidden and shall lead to immediate eviction of the guests and an end to their contract. The police will always be notified.
If you really want to sample Dutch life and get around quickly and easily, make sure you buy a bicycle. Get one just like the Dutch use as a serious form of transport: a sturdy, no-nonsense bicycle, preferably not too expensive so that if it gets stolen you will not feel too bad. Be sure to buy a good solid lock and fix your bicycle to an immovable object, in order to discourage bicycle-thieves. In fact, most Dutch students spend more money on the locks than on the bicycle itself.
Buying a second hand bicycle
Most students buy second hand bicycles; prices vary greatly. Although second hand bicycles are not easy to get, you can try one of these addresses in Maastricht:
You can also ask your fellow students if they happen to have any spare bicycles standing around at home, which is not uncommon. A word of advice: if you have to leave your bicycle at the station overnight do not park it on the premises, since this is the most common place for it to get stolen. Instead, park it indoors at the bicycle garage 'Aon de Stasie Tweewielerspecialist', which is near the station, and simply pick up your bicycle upon return. Check www.aondestasie.nl for rates and opening hours.
If your bicycle gets stolen, you should report it to the police.
General bicycle laws
Please note that the laws for cyclists in the Netherlands are quite strict: • Do not drive against traffic on a one-way street > you will get a fine • Brakes and lights should work > if they do not, you will get a fine.
Specific regulations for Maastricht
In the city centre and at the central station, you are only permitted to park your bicycle in the provided racks. There are more than 5000 public racks throughout the city centre. There are also five supervised bicycle parks where you can park your bicycle for 50 cents per day. One more important reminder: you are not allowed to cycle in the pedestrian area of the city centre.
If you park your bicycle anywhere else, there is a risk that it will be removed and confiscated by the city council, or you may be given a parking fine for your moped or scooter. Confiscated bicycles can be collected at the storeroom located at the Bosscherweg 245-249 on Monday from 12.00 hrs - 17.00 hrs and Thursday from 09.00 hrs - 12.00 hrs.
The Netherlands has a dense railway network which is perfect for travel between city centres. The carriages are modern and clean and, although many Dutch people complain about delays, the trains usually run on time. Smoking is not allowed on trains, in the station and on the platforms (although there are special zones on the platform where smoking is permitted; these zones are indicated by a tall pillar, containing ash trays and the words “rookzone”. Anyone caught smoking outside these zones will get a heavy fine). Information about departure times of the public transportation including buses, trams and metros: www.9292.nl/en
From Maastricht you can go by train to practically any destination in the Netherlands. Some destinations can be reached directly from Maastricht; for other destinations you have to transfer to another train at a station. Check www.ns.nl/en for timetables and ticket options for inside the Netherlands. International train travel: www.nsinternational.nl
The OV-chipkaart is the payment method for public transport in the Netherlands. For more information check: www.ov-chipkaart.nl/home-1.htm
Driving your own car
• Drive on the right hand side of the road;
• Parking violations are punished rather severely: look for signs that say 'betaald parkeren' (=paid parking) or a blue sign with a white P in the middle;
• Wearing your seatbelt is mandatory;
• Using your cell phone in the car while driving is only allowed as long as it is hands-free; To drive a car in the Netherlands you must
• have a valid license that is recognized by Dutch law;
• be aged 18 or older;
• have third party insurance and drive a registered vehicle.
Once you have obtained your residence permit (if you need one) you can travel freely in the Schengen countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland). However, as long as you do not have your residence permit, it is wise to check whether you might need a visa before you want to travel. If you want to explore the rest of Europe, there are several opportunities to do that without depleting your entire savings.
ISIC Card If you travel outside of the Netherlands and want to be eligible for certain student discounts your UM card will often not be enough to identify you as a student, and an International Student Identity Card is often required. For more information on how to apply for an ISIC card go to www.isic.org
For information about working in the Netherlands, refer to
InterUM is the university’s employment agency. Refer to www.eu/employee_home_en.php
For those of you who do not get enough exercise riding your bicycles to and from the university, UM SPORTS organises a comprehensive sports programme to suit the needs and wishes of all students > check www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/lifeum/sports-maastricht for more information, or follow UM SPORT on Facebook: www.facebook.com/umsports
Private Sports Clubs
There are many other gyms and/or sport associations. As a general rule such gyms and/or sport associations are more expensive than UM SPORTS, but are usually open to students and eager for new members. Other gyms and/or sport associations are too numerous to name here. If you are looking for a specific sport, ask at the UM SPORTS desk or search the Internet, and keep your eyes open for posters and promotions.
Where to go to for a drink or a bite to eat...
This is just a short list of events. More events are organized in the proximity of Maastricht.
TEFAF: The European Fine Art Fair www.tefaf.com
Lowlands: yearly music, art, theatre, film, comedy festival www.lowlands.nl
Pinkpop: music festival (one of the largest in The Netherlands) www.pinkpop.nl
Rock Werchter: music festival in Belgium: www.rockwerchter.be
Tomorrowland: music festival in Belgium: www.tomorrowland.be
Events calender - Maastricht: www.visitmaastricht.com/events-calender
Preuvenemint 24 - 27 August 2017
An extremely popular four-day culinary event that takes place on the main square in the inner-city of Maastricht: the Vrijthof. This event is held every year, in the last weekend of August. For more information visit www.preuvenemint.nl
King’s Day 27 April
The Dutch celebrate their King on 27 April (his birthday) by either going to one of the places the King visits on this day or you can visit some of the bigger cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht or Eindhoven.
Memorial Day - Liberation Day
Following Memorial Day (always 4 May) comes Liberation Day (always 5 May), the day on which the Dutch celebrate their total liberation from the occupying forces in 1945. It is celebrated throughout the country, and usually a lot of open-air concerts take place.
Oktoberfest (Germany) 16 September - 2 October 2017
Although admittedly a German tradition, Maastricht students cross the border en masse to take part in this wild festival of drinking, singing, and generally being happy together. Feel free to join in with a gang of German students to enjoy this truly European tradition. The Oktoberfest in Munich receives six million visitors annually, making it the world’s largest fair. For more information visit www.oktoberfest.de/en
Sinterklaas 5 December
Through the centuries Sinterklaas has been considered the patron saint of children. According to legend, he saved his town from starvation and he is said to have revived three dead children. He supposedly arrives in the Netherlands somewhere around the middle of November on his steamboat from Spain. This boat is loaded with gifts and populated by Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes), his helpers who come down the chimney to deliver the gifts. One explanation why Sinterklaas has zwarte pieten to help him is because the Moors dominated Spain for several hundreds of years. Another, more popular, explanation for zwarte piet being black is that he has come down the chimneys so often that he can no longer wash off the dirt. Sinterklaas is not only a holiday for children: also grown-ups like to participate in the fun. This is often done by giving serious, silly or homemade gifts - the latter is called a surprise, usually with a relevant funny or slightly sarcastic poem.
Though this is not so much an official festivity, much less an annually recurring one, it is well worth mentioning. Every year, the Dutch hope for a severe winter as this will freeze solid the lakes and canals in the northernmost province of the Netherlands, Friesland. Only then can the Elfstedentocht take place. This Elfstedentocht is a race on ice-skates, that passes through 11 cities in Friesland (hence elf steden or eleven cities) and is almost 200 kilometres long. The life of the winners of this event will never be the same again - they become national heroes and are recognized wherever they go. A surprising fact is that the winners are seldom trained Olympic ice skaters, but modest farmers who have been training as a hobby.
Carnaval 11 - 13 February 2018
Most people who live in the southern provinces love Carnaval and celebrate it with passion. Virtually all businesses close for a three-day celebration. People get dressed up and go from bar to bar, singing, dancing, drinking and being silly. As long as you dress up (preferably also paint your face) you are more than welcome to celebrate with them. Go to a shop called In ’t Panhuis (address: Markt 74 in Maastricht) for your own dazzling Carnaval outfit.
Generally, shops in Maastricht are open every working day, including Saturday. Moreover, most shops in the city centre and selected supermarkets are open on Sunday as well.
Most supermarkets are open from Monday through Saturday from 08.00/08.30 hrs - 21.00 hrs, some (such as ALDI) close at 19.00 hrs. There are usually extended hours on Thursdays and limited hours on Saturdays. Some supermarkets are open on Sundays. Needless to say that alternative opening hours apply during holidays. Always check the notice on the entrance of your local supermarket.
In the Maastricht City Centre you can find tons of shops (cloths, shoes, cosmetics, electronic device, interior). All kinds of shops you can imagine are to be found in the city centre. De Bijenkorf and HEMA are real Dutch department stores where you can find everything you wish for. Refer to the VVV webpage for more information about the shopping facilities in Maastricht: www.visitmaastricht.com/shopping
The VVV (tourist office) provides information on finding your way around Maastricht, onto busses, to cultural events (theatre - museums - movie theatres - local attractions) and more. For information check: www.visitmaastricht.com
Public Library of Maastricht
The public library of Maastricht contains more than 500,000 books, magazines, CDs, but also DVD’S, and CD-ROMs. The library is divided into four floors, and has several computer terminals on each floor where you can access the library catalogue. For information on the opening hours and the different membership cards check the Library website: http://bibliotheek.centreceramique.nl