Answering FAQs!

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Katlyn Clarke
December 21, 2023

Today I'm answering a few of the questions I'm always asked by family and friends, as well as the biggest questions I was trying to answer the summer before I arrived in Amsterdam. 

How do you set up a phone plan?

A few days after I got to Amsterdam, I went to a nearby Vodafone location. The first shop didn’t sell SIM cards, so I visited another location and they had some in stock. I have an iphone 13, so it physically worked for me. I think I paid 15 euro for the SIM itself, and the Vodafone staff set it up for me and made sure that it worked. After the card was in my phone, I made a Vodafone account and purchased a bundle that included both data and calls/text! Some of my friends with newer phone models went for the E-SIM card. I don't know much about it but in your first few days it's nice to figure these things out together! If you don't know what you're doing or don't want to travel alone just yet, ask someone else! They're probably trying to get their phone to work too. 


Did you set up a bank account? 

I did not set up a bank account in the Netherlands. In fact, many people who I spoke to advised me against it just because it is highly inconvenient, and you’ll have to close it out before you leave along with deregistering from city hall and IND (the end-of-abroad tasks add up). Additionally, you have to wait until you’ve registered at city hall and the IND in order to get your BSN number and other information. I don’t think anyone I know opened a bank account. Personally, about a week before I went abroad, I went to a local bank branch and switched to an international debit card that helped me avoid fees from ATMs and worked at most locations. Some places do not take visa and master card in the Netherlands! It is always a smart idea to keep a few euros on you. 


Where do you go grocery shopping?

I went to a few places—wherever I was closest to when I decided to go to the store! There’s the Jumbo, Dirk, Albert Heijn, Plus, and probably others but these are the ones I rotated between depending on where I was. Albert Heijn is the priciest, however one is always around! I usually frequented either the Plus or the Dirk, as I found the Dirk was cheaper for me and I could walk to the Plus from my housing. There is also a Dirk located right in the heart of the city. Many locations carry the same products but the inner city stores can be smaller and may not have super specific items. If you’re looking for a more “American” department store experience, the Jumbo stores are literally Jumbo and you can find anything you need. The HEMA stores also felt more like a Target to me too! Just remember: anything you buy, including nutrition labels, will be in Dutch. 


Where did you live?

I applied for housing through the IES Abroad Amsterdam program and it was first come, first served! And yes, that made me nervous, but it all worked out for me! I ended up living with 20 other students at a hotel in the Bajeskwartier. All students were put at different hotel locations throughout various parts of the city so you could choose what location/living style worked best for you. What appealed to me was that I knew I’d be with only 20 others, and in a program of 150, that number seemed comfortable to me! Plus it was close to two of the University of Amsterdam locations that I was splitting my time between. None of us lived with roommates, but I believe most locations had shared kitchens. I was a 10-minute walk from the metro, and biking is also a viable option. I did not bike at all during my time in the Netherlands, and it’s totally OK if you don’t either! Lots of people walk, and I feel like if I was there for longer maybe I would’ve tried the biking situation, but in many scenarios it seemed to me like a greater hassle to bike than walk. So on foot I went. 

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Katlyn Clarke

Hi! I'm Katie. I enjoy iced matcha lattes, sunset walks, and Bernedoodles! I'm a huge book lover, and will easily pick up the newest summer romance. I also have a knack for crafting playlists for friends and could listen to the same song all day!

2023 Fall
Home University:
Franklin & Marshall College
Creative Writing
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