Frequently Asked Questions

What is a study association?

A study association (not to be confused with a student association) is a non-profit organisation that represents the interests of students in a particular field of study. It consists of many different committees which organise study-related activities, such as educational trips, lectures and excursions as well as social activities like borrels (typical Dutch get-togethers), dinners and parties. Study associations are run for students, by students, and are a great way to get to know like-minded people and make your life as a student easier. 

Members of a study association often have access to significant discounts and benefits on their textbooks as well as summaries and exam training. These associations often have their own spot on campus where members can hang out, have coffee and receive information or educational resources.


Study associations are run by a board of students in cooperation with its committees. These committees cover a large variety of topics which are usually divided into social and study related committees. Each of these organises its own events and every member has the opportunity to join. This way, every member can add to the organisation (as well as to their resume) with their own input, whilst gaining valuable experience and having fun with other students.

Besides activities, these associations often grant members access to a variety of other benefits as well. Probably the best way to gain the most from a study association is by stopping by, asking questions and seeing how it fits in your life as a student. Chances are they have some things to offer you!

The study association of the Psychology department is the VSPA, which stands for: de Vereniging van Studenten in de Psychologie te Amsterdam (the Association of Students in Psychology in Amsterdam). More on the VSPA, what is does and what it can do for you, right below:

What is the VSPA?

The VSPA, which stands for: de Vereniging van Studenten in de Psychologie te Amsterdam (the Association of Students in Psychology in Amsterdam), is the study association of the Psychology department from the University of Amsterdam. It is over 79 years old and with that one of the oldest and biggest study associations of the Netherlands.

The VSPA is the association of psychology students in Amsterdam (Vereniging van Studenten in de Psychologie te Amsterdam; VSPA). It consists of about 1600 members, making the VSPA one of the biggest study associations of the Netherlands. Everyone who is studying psychology at the UvA can become a member of the association to expand their student lives in both a social and a study related way.

The association is built on her many committees that organise all kinds of study related activities are organised such as a conference, lectures, workshops and excursions. Besides these events, there are many opportunities to make social contact by means of the various parties, travels and ‘borrels’, that are organised. As a member you can join all these activities and even better; you can organise them yourselves! Basically, about 90% of Psychology-related things you experience on campus besides lectures and tutorials, are done by or with the VSPA.

The VSPA room is where the board of 6 students stays every working day. Here, they fulfill all of their tasks to coordinate the organisation, but the VSPA room is also a place for fun and for other members! All members are welcome to come together and chat with each other or with the board while enjoying a cup of coffee. Also you can: get your study books with a great discount, buy summaries, receive information on activities, pick up free pens, markers, notebooks, snacks, merch and more. The VSPA room is situated in the G-building of the Roeterseiland Campus, room G-S.25. Do not hesitate to stop by once in a while, we are more than happy to help or hang out!

Opening hours of the VSPA room are as follows:

Monday 10:00-17:00
Tuesday 10:00-18:00
Wednesday 10:00-18:00
Thursday 12:00-18:00
Friday 12:00-18:00

Address
This is the address of the VSPA:
VSPA, REC GS.25
Nieuwe Achtergracht 129B
1018 WS Amsterdam

Studentculture in Amsterdam

The student culture is really a culture in and of itself. Amsterdam consists of a lot of different study and student associations. Study associations are affiliated with a university and organize social and study-related events. A well-known social occasion is the ‘borrel’. This is actually a kind of party in a cafe with a beer in hand. Borrels are there to have a nice chat with fellow students, together with an alcoholic refreshment. Of course there is also the possibility to join the borrel with Coca Cola!
Student associations are separate associations for students. Most student associations have a hazing system. This is a period in which students have to prove themselves with all sorts of crazy assignments before they belong to the student associations. Think of being dropped somewhere random in the Netherlands without a phone and money. The aim is to come back to the city you come from. In addition, student associations are mainly about fun and getting together. This can be done in many different ways, such as at a get-together, but also on sports fields or in the theatre. There are also many different sports, theatre, music and political associations. In Amsterdam, clubs are open 7 days a week, where students flock in for a party. Every day other clubs have drinks, so drinks are held everywhere. Pils is the most famous word in the student culture. Pils is the Dutch word for beer. Finally, you will often mention the word ‘VO’. This equals ‘Bravo’. It is used to praise someone. VO for you!

Canvas

Canvas is a website the UvA uses to put all information about your courses on. They call it the digital learning environment of the UvA. Go to canvas.uva.nl and log in with your UvAnetID (this is your student number and password). If you’re logged in, all your active courses are placed on the Dashboard. For help, you should click “Help” in the toolbar on the left of your screen. For a quick tour and information about Canvas, you can watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3qigjhY0lw&feature=emb_title.

This video is also posted on the Help section of your Canvas page. If you scroll down in the Help section, there are 5 tips posted for using Canvas. Hopefully this will help you further!

UvA Schedule

The UvA schedule is quite a difficult one to find out, so do not hesitate to ask other people if you do not get how it works. I hope we can give you enough information about how it works to make sure you know where to be when. I will explain it step-by-step, so hopefully you have your schedule in your timetable after these steps.

Step 1: go to rooster.uva.nl and log in with your UvAnetID (your student number and password) in the top right corner.

Step 2: To see your schedule, you have to add your schedule to the timetable. You can do so by clicking on “Add timetable”.

Step 3: To see a shared programme, click on “Programme of study”. For first year students your whole first year is a shared programme. For second years, most of your year is a shared programme. 

Step 4: search for “Psychology” in the search bar

Step 5: click on “Bachelor’s in Psychology year ….” and then your year and click on “Add timetable in the bottom right corner”

→ now you will see a lot of classes in your schedule. These are all of the classes there are, so now you have to specify your own tutorial groups. I will explain this for the first year classes.

Step 6: On the right of the screen, you find a list of all timetables comprising your personal timetable. Hover your mouse over the Tutorials Academic Skills/Reading and Writing of Scientific Texts – 7201620PXY_Sem1_Blok_1en2en3  timetable and click the button. Because it says Sem1_Blok_1en2en3 you know it is for semester 1, block 1, 2 and three. Now click on “Filter Activities”.

Step 7: click on the tutorial group that is assigned to you and you will see your schedule!

For more information about the timetable, go to https://rooster.uva.nl/help.

Honours

Naast het standaardprogramma Psychologie aan de UvA is het ook mogelijk om extra vakken te volgen bij het Honoursprogramma. Dit programma belast zo’n half jaar aan studie en levert maximaal 30 studiepunten op tijdens de driejarige opleiding. Aan het begin van het eerste studiejaar ontvang je als student een mail of je geïnteresseerd bent om het Honoursprogramma te volgen. Alleen studenten die gemiddeld een 7 staan zullen deze mail ontvangen. 

De extra vakken zullen voornamelijk thema’s zoals als het nature-nurture debat, vrije wil en het lichaam-geestprobleem belichten. In het tweede jaar volg je ook interdisciplinaire keuzevakken (vakken die behoren tot het studieprogramma van een andere opleiding). Aan het einde van het derde jaar schrijf je een Honoursscriptie. 

Wanneer je de bachelor en het Honoursprogramma in drie jaar met gemiddeld een 7 hebt afgerond, ontvang je ook een extra diploma. Dit diploma is waardevol bij het aanmelden voor een stage, een master of een baan

Real Estate Agent

For those who have the budget for it and prefer convenience and security above all, there is the option to contact a real estate agent who will actively look for a suitable living space for you. Be sure to check the following link for an overview of real estate agents that are specialized in helping out internationals:

https://www.iamexpat.nl/housing/buy-house-netherlands/real-estate-agents/amsterdam

Facebook Rooms

Become a member of Facebook groups:

  • Kamer Te Huur Amsterdam (VIV Enterprise)
  • Zoekt kamer in Amsterdam Community
  • Woonruimte Aangeboden/Gezocht (Amsterdam)
  • Kamer Gezocht/Aangeboden

Loads of available rooms are posted there, and you should send an email to a room you are interested in. In the Netherlands we work with hosting evenings, where a few people interested are invited to view the room. This evening is for the people hosting a moment to see who you are and if you are suitable as a roommate for them. The key is, be patient. And keep sending emails and keep replying. You definitely won’t be invited to all the rooms you are interested in. And it will probably take you some time to find a room, so start in time.

Lastly, the best way to get a room is via your network. A study association such as VSPA can help you meet new people and expand your network.

Housing Websites

Most students try to get to a student room via websites. As the range of sites is very large, we will list them for you:

Studentenwoningweb:
– You can register from the age of 16;
– A registration costs € 22,50 and is valid for eight years;
– You can pay via iDEAL or with your credit card;
– You can only respond to student residences in your student city.

The disadvantage of this site is that you have to be registered for a really long time to find a room. The students who have been registered the longest on the website are invited to visit. Then the housemates or the landlord may choose who the new occupant will be. Upon approval, the tenancy agreement will be sent and you will be allowed to occupy the house. Conclusion: the chance that you will get a house when you have just registered is very small. In addition, you can only respond actively to one house and ‘apply for a room’. You cannot be actively interested in two houses at the same time.
The UVA does register Student Home Web as a good option for finding a house.

ROOM.nl
ROOM.nl is also proposed by the UvA as a good website where students can find good rooms. 
– One-time registration fee of 35 euro for 8 years.
– If you are interested in a room you can respond. The person who has been on ROOM the longest has priority when indicating whether they want the room or not. This also means that you have to be registered for a long time. Then you can look at the room and give your approval.  

https://studentexperience.nl
This is a company that owns 3 student housing complexes. It has very nice quality houses and complexes with nice general halls, kitchens and study rooms. You pay a little more than in the rest of the city, but they are ideal homes for students who come from abroad and which does not have a social environment here yet.

https://www.woningnet.nl/
This site is also offered by the UvA. Here the same principles apply as with the other sites. You pay a starting amount to register and then you pay extra annually to renew your account. In addition, you are more likely to find a room if you have been registered for a longer time than if you have just signed up.

Public Transport

Within Amsterdam it is easy to travel quickly by bike, but also by public transport. The tram, bus and metro is a good means of transport to travel throughout the city. The infrastructure in Amsterdam is so good that the trams, buses and metros follow each other in quick succession. 

To pay for public transport it is important to buy a public transport chip card. With this card you can check in when you arrive at the means of transport and check out when you disembark. No more cash is accepted in Amsterdam. 

There is also a company called ISIC. As an international student you can buy a ticket for €15,- to travel with public transport through the Netherlands. In addition, you can use many different services at ISIC for €2,50,- per month.Then you can use the following services: 

  • 15% discount during off-peak hours on national railway (NS)
  • A digital ISIC card, with the best discounts in the Netherlands and the rest of the world
  • Customized application process for international students
  • Automatic top-up option (no more topping on or balance)
  • Travel data, customer service etc in ISIC mobility app
  • Public transport bike (OV-fiets) and storage

https://www.isic.nl/en/public-transport/

ISIC offers a huge amount of extra services such as day trips, travel, cheap transport, discounts on restaurants and much more. Here the website with all services:

https://www.isic.nl/en/student-discounts/

  • Normal public transport chip card

Only Dutch students can get free public transport. International students can buy a public transport chip card. The card is valid for 5 years. 

https://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/purchase-an-ov-chipkaart/apply-for-personal-ov-chipkaart.htm

With this link you can fill in your details and request a personal chip card. 

  • Then you have to upload a personal photo which can be seen on your personal chip card. 
  • Then you can indicate the function to automatically upload the OV-chipkaart. This means that when the amount of money is lower than a certain value, the OV-chipkaart will be charged with money from your bank account. This action takes place automatically when this threshold is reached. 
  • Then you check everything and fill in your payment details. 
  • You can only pay with iDeal and PayPal. 
  • Within a few working days you will receive the OV-chipkaart at home. 
  • There is also a possibility to travel with an anonymous OV-chipkaart. 

When people don’t travel much with OV or don’t want to share their personal information, you can choose to travel anonymously. 

You can share the card with the whole family (but not at the same time). For example, you travel to Amsterdam by train with the anonymous card and your son uses the same card one day later to go to football by bus.

  • The card is available at railway stations, tobacco shops and service desks.
  • If you load a balance on it, the card can be used immediately. 
  • The card is valid for five years from the date of production.
  • A disadvantage of the card is that you can use prices that are not related to age. So a child will cost the same price as an adult. 

Night buses also run between 01.00 and 05.00 hours in the Amsterdam region. The OV-chipcard can also be used or you can buy a separate ticket on the bus. The prices are a bit more expensive and there are less buses at night.

Traffic Rules

Strict traffic rules have been drawn up in the Netherlands and in Amsterdam in order to allow all residents to move around the streets as safely as possible. Here are the most important rules: 

  • Firstly, it is forbidden to drive a vehicle with alcohol or drugs in your body. This is life-threatening. It is not necessarily forbidden to cycle with alcohol in the body. However, be very careful! If you are not an experienced cyclist, be careful on the road. Even experienced cyclists regularly fall hard on the ground when they’re drunk. 
  • All vehicles drive on the right side of the road. Left overtaking is allowed.
  • Since 2019 it is forbidden to hold a mobile phone while riding a scooter, motorbike, moped or bicycle. This law was introduced this year because of the many accidents on the road, caused by one or more drivers who hold their phone. Calling is also not allowed except hands-free, such as a mobile holder on the handlebars or earphones. Fines for holding a phone when driving on the road are €95,-. 
  • Traffic from the right has priority
  • Trams always have priority (watch out for tram rails on bicycles!)
  • On the motorway, in most cases the maximum speed is 100 or 120 km/hour. 
  • Everywhere in the city of Amsterdam there are cycle paths. Drive on these paths and avoid the asphalt roads where cars drive. There are cycle paths for nothing. 
  • Most important rule of cycling in Amsterdam: NOBODY abides by the rules. The bicycle network in Amsterdam does not run on a system, but on intuition. Everyone rides through red, cycles hard and manoeuvres past other cyclists. Be aware that it takes time to get used to the bicycle system, because you have to make the system your own.

Bikes

The main means of transport in Amsterdam is the bicycle. Everywhere around you can see bikes, bikes and more bikes. It is by far the fastest and most efficient means of transport in the city. 40 percent of all journeys in Amsterdam are made by bike. Throughout the city there are special bike paths so that traffic is well organized. In addition, bicycles often have the right of way in traffic. Be careful when you get on your bike! The bicycle traffic is one gigantic chaos but works very efficiently. Cycling through Amsterdam is healthy, practical and fun!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=226&v=V8QCt-2SAbg&feature=emb_logo

For more information look at our Soft Landing page!

Drug Policy in the Netherlands/Amsterdam

The so-called “Opium Act” sets out the rules pertaining to drugs in Dutch law. The Opium Act makes a distinction between soft drugs and hard drugs.

Soft drugs, such as marijuana and hash, are less damaging to health than hard drugs, such as ecstasy and cocaine. But soft drugs are also illegal in the Netherlands. This means that those found selling, producing, dealing or in possession of these drugs are liable to prosecution.

HOWEVER: the Netherlands applies a policy of toleration in relation to the sale of soft drugs in coffee shops. This means that the sale of soft drugs in coffee shops is a criminal offence but the Public Prosecution Service does not prosecute coffee shops for this offence.

Neither does the Public Prosecution Service prosecute members of the public for possession of small quantities of soft drugs. These quantities are defined as follows:

  • No more than 5 grams of cannabis (marijuana or hash);
  • No more than 5 cannabis plants per household.

What this means for you as a student: 

You can easily and safely buy cannabis-products (up till 5 grams per person) in coffee shops and smoke in public without getting arrested in Amsterdam. Officially, you will have to show identification proving you are 18 or older. 

Hard drugs include, for instance, heroin, cocaine, amphetamine, LSD and XTC (MDMA).

The production, sale and possession of hard drugs is forbidden in Amsterdam. Recreational use at festivals will often be tolerated due to its wide-spread use, but possession of more than 1 XTC-pill is legally seen as dealing and is therefore a criminal offense. 

Regardless of what or how much you are planning on using: always get your drugs tested! There are two testing centres in Amsterdam. One of them is right next to campus: GGD, Valckenierstraat 4, 1018 XG Amsterdam. Here they will (for almost no cost) test a sample of your XTC (or other type of hard drugs) and let you know what it is composed of, if it is recognized in their database and more. You will not get in trouble for going to these test centres and they will keep your info anonymously. Another one of these centres is called Jellinek, located in the south of the city: Jacob Obrechtstraat 92, 1071 KR Amsterdam.

National Holidays

There are a number of important days off in the Netherlands. In addition to the usual holidays, there are also holidays on which students and employees are given time off.  Hereby a number of holidays:  

  • Good Friday. On this day the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is commemorated. In 2021 Good Friday will take place on Friday 10 April. On this day, everyone is free from working. 
  • Easter. Easter Day takes place on Sunday 4 and Monday 5 April.  
  • King’s Day is perhaps the most Dutch and authentic holiday of the year. On Monday 27 April 2021 all Dutch people will take to the streets, dressed in orange. There will be big parties throughout the country. A tradition during King’s Day is to sell things in the streets. In addition, many children try to earn a buck by playing their musical instrument on the street. A nice place to visit during King’s Day is the Vondelpark.  The whole park is full of children, nice stands with stuff, music and fun. For many, this is the day of the year!
  • On May 5, the Netherlands commemorates the liberation of the country during the Second World War. Throughout the country and also in Amsterdam many events are organized, like parties. In addition, many festivals take place on this day!  
  • The most important holidays in a row:  
  • New Year’s Day: Wednesday 1 January 2021 
  • Good Friday: Friday 2 April 2021 
  • Easter (first and second Easter day): Sunday 4 and Monday 5 April 2021. Free day for everyone
  • King’s Day: Monday 27 April 2021 
  • Liberation Day (many parties and festivals): Tuesday 5 May 2021 
  • Ascension Day: Thursday 13 May 2021. Free day for everyone. 
  • Whitsun (first and second Whit Monday): Sunday 23 May and Monday 24 May 2021. Free days for everyone!
  • Christmas (Christmas Day 1 and 2): Friday 25 and Saturday 26 December 2021

From 2021 onwards, the UvA will officially hold a second holiday during the year for the first time. The UvA will be closed from 3 to7 May 2021. In September 2019, this decision was made to offer students and lecturers more peace and quiet in the second semester.