Amsterdam is a creative and culturally-vibrant city with lots of opportunities and activities for students. The city has an abundance of cinemas, theatres, museums, bars, clubs and festivals – and your UvA or VU student card will often get you a student discount.
Amsterdam municipality registration
The municipality of Amsterdam oversees a number of public services that you will come in contact with as a (new) resident of the city, such as waste removal and parking. Living in the AUC student residences means that you must be registered as a resident in Amsterdam. Once you've registered, you'll be given a citizen service number (‘burgerservicenummer’ or BSN). A BSN is required for many things in the Netherlands, including opening a bank account, visiting a doctor or getting hospital treatment.
Science Park and AUC’s campus are located in Amsterdam Oost (East), which is home to lost of cultural hotspots, such as cafés and restaurants, museums, parks and a student-run cinema, that AUC students frequent.
Public transport in Amsterdam consists of a network of metros, trams, buses and trains. You are rarely more than 10 minutes away from one of these means of transport. From AUC’s campus, there is bus service (bus line 40) with several stops in the Science Park terrain and train service from the Science Park railway station. Most public transport in Amsterdam runs until around midnight, but there are also night buses and limited intercity connections. From many railway stations, in particular the bigger ones like Amsterdam Amstel and Amsterdam Centraal, you can easily catch a train to other destinations within the Netherlands.
If you are eligible for a Dutch study grant (‘studiefinanciering’) from DUO you will also be able to request and receive a student travel product for your ‘OV-chipkaart’ (public transport card) with which you can travel throughout the Netherlands for free either from Monday to Friday with a discount in the weekend or vice versa, with certain restrictions. If you are not eligible for a Dutch study grant, you are not eligible for this student discount.
For the buses, trams and metros in Amsterdam, as well as public transport systems throughout the Netherlands, you will need to use the ‘OV-chipkaart’ (public transport chip card) system. There are two types of cards that you can use: a personal card, which is tracked and allows passes and discounts, or an anonymous card, which is untracked and shareable.
Frequently, the most practical way to travel around Amsterdam is by bicycle. Bikes, new and second-hand, can also be bought at shops all over the city. Avoid purchasing bikes on the street with extremely low prices, as these are almost invariably stolen goods and buying a stolen bike is considered a criminal offence. Bicycles should always have a serial number (‘serienummer’) which can be checked for its (possible) theft history. In addition to your bicycle, you should invest in a decent lock.
Buying or renting a bicycle
Many resources are available to purchase or rent a bicycle, both new and second-hand. Within walking distance from Science Park, you can find several bicycle sellers and repair shops that will typically have a selection of new and used bicycles for sale. Online is also a good resource, with Facebook Marketplace and Marktplaats (Dutch re-sale site) as popular options for second-hand bicycles. However, it is good to be mindful of scams when buying through these sites. You can also acquire a bicycle on a monthly subscription-basis via a company called Swapfiets. Renting is also a possibility for short trips or visitors, but will be more expensive over a longer period of time.
Cycling tips and traffic rules
If you are inexperienced in cycling, especially in a city, it is helpful to have some tips and best practices. Always give right of way to taxis, trams and buses, and give way to all traffic approaching from the right, unless otherwise indicated. Put your hand out to let other people know if you are going to turn left or right, especially in busy streets with more traffic (both cars, scooters and bikes) this can easily prevent accidents. Never leave your bike unlocked and preferably lock it to something immovable (e.g. bike rack) and through the wheels and the frame. Lights at night are required.
The Amsterdam tourist board has put together a helpful guide on cycling safety.