Planning to do your undergraduate studies abroad brings a lot of excitement, but also a lot of options to swipe through. And just before you swipe right for a country, you probably want to know what’s behind that pretty picture.
Subjects you can study in Germany vs. the Netherlands
What might influence your choice most is the specialisation you are interested in. Germany aces the Engineering field of study, but the most popular Bachelor’s degree in Germany are:
- Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering in Germany
- Bachelors in International Business in Germany
- Bachelors in Journalism and Media in Germany
- Bachelors in Social Sciences in Germany
Nobody can beat the Netherlands at programmes related to Water Resource Management, but there are pretty good options in IT or Hospitality as well. Some of the best Bachelor’s programmes in the Netherlands are:
- Bachelors in Computer Science and IT in the Netherlands
- Bachelors in Hospitality, Leisure and Sports in the Netherlands
- Bachelors in General Engineering in the Netherlands
- Bachelors in Liberal Arts in the Netherlands
Student life in Germany vs. the Netherlands
Both countries boast great student facilities, cultural events, historical places and exciting nightlife. But there are some essential differences as well.
Student life in Germany – learn the true meaning of being punctual
Germans like their routines and schedules a lot. Professors are no exception. Being an organised student will get you into their graces, so you’d better get used to sticking to deadlines.
Because Germany is such a big country and a favourite student destination, you are going to meet a lot of other international students, but you can also mingle with local ones. As a student there, you will have a lot to do in your free time. If you like long travel distances you can discover places like:
- the Romantic Road
- the old city centre of Dusseldorf
- Städel Museum in Frankfurt
- the Black Forest in Freiburg
Student life in the Netherlands – relax, man!
Students in the Netherlands have a lot of freedom and are encouraged to take part in many activities. Professors often prefer you call them by their name, without too many formalities.
Like Germany, the Netherlands has a well-grown international students’ community which is very friendly and open to other newcomers.
Their English skills make Dutch students approachable and perfect party buddies, but if you’re looking to form solid friendships with them, you should learn some Dutch.
Unlike Germany, the Netherlands is a small country with a flat landscape which makes it ideal for biking. The advantage is that the travel distances are short. The downside is that there isn’t as much sightseeing variety. But you can still visit a lot:
- the Afrika Museum near Nijmegen
- the old border of the Roman empire in the Netherlands.
- De Efteling, the oldest theme park in the world
- Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Tuition and living costs in Germany vs. the Netherlands
When it comes to the practicalities of living in one of these two countries, we have to say that Germany fares a little better. Compared to the Netherlands, the living costs in Germany are cheaper. Furthermore, it is easier to find reasonably priced and quality accommodation in Germany.
Here are some key points you should take into account:
As far as tuition fees are concerned, hands down to Germany again, as public universities charge no tuition to EU students, and generally low fees to non- EU/ EEA students. In the Netherlands, higher education is almost free for Dutch students, but there are fees for EU and non-EU students.
- Average Dutch tuition fees for EU students: 2,000 EUR/ year
- Average German tuition fees for EU students: 0 - 200 EUR/year
- Average Dutch tuition fees for non-EU students: 6,000/ year
- Average German tuition fees for EU students: starting at 500- 1000/ year
However, If you are from an EU/EEA country or Suriname and you start studying a Bachelor’s at a public university in the Netherlands in 2018-2019, you will only pay half of the tuition fee in the first year. This means that for the first year of studies your fee will only be 1,030 EUR. Good job, Netherlands!
German vs. Dutch culture and lifestyle
As you will spend at least three years doing your Bachelor’s studies in Germany or the Netherlands you should know what to expect when interacting with the locals. The bad news is that both countries have not so friendly climates – they are generally colder and darker. The good news is both countries rank in the top 20 most peaceful countries in the world.
German culture – discover reserved and reliable people
The Germans deliver what they promise so about 90% of what you heard about them is true. They are more reserved and more formal.
But they have a friendly side too. You might not know it, but Germans are big fans of clubs – not only the dancing kind. Many Germans are part of social clubs that focus on different activities: sports clubs, singing clubs, hiking clubs, even animal breeding clubs.
The challenge of German culture is the language. Young Germans speak and understand English, but the rest are not big fans of foreign languages. They will be more open to help you learn German than to communicate in English with you. Also, get ready to see Thor: Ragnarok dubbed in German, as all – ALL – movies are dubbed in Germany.
Dutch Culture – small and cosmopolitan
If Rembrandt, Van Gogh and speed skating are a perfect combination in your mind, then the Netherlands is definitely for you.
Besides the fact that over 90% of the Dutch speak English, the Netherlands is also a favourite student destination because the people there come across as less formal, more open-minded and friendly.
It’s easy to pick a conversation with a stranger or to get the right directions from the first person you meet. However, you should take Dutch friendliness with a grain of salt, as people in Netherlands kind of like fitting people into stereotypes (oops). You know, the British like to drink and the Americans are into hip-hop and R&B, and so on.
Getting your student visa for Germany or the Netherlands
Because both Germany and the Netherlands are part of the European Union, EU students won’t need a visa to study in any of the countries. Non-EU students will have to apply for a student visa, and finding out how difficult the application process is can tip the scales on one of the 2 countries:
Applying for the German student visa:
- The visa fee costs 60 EUR
- Certain non-EU nationalities will have to open a special bank account in Germany to prove they have enough funds to support themselves in the country
- You’ll also need to buy health insurance as part of the application process
- You will need a minimum of 720 EUR per month to cover living costs to get the visa
Applying for the Dutch student visa:
- Most of the visa application process is done by the university that accepted you, so you may be able to get your visa with less hassle.
- The visa fee costs 317 EUR.
- You will need a minimum of 868 EUR per month to cover living costs to get the visa.
Job options Germany vs. the Netherlands
Getting a student job or a job after you graduate in one of these countries is never easy-peasy, especially if you are from outside the EU.
A work permit is required in both situations. Furthermore, student work permits in both countries only allow you to work part-time during school semesters.
Working in the Netherlands – active and fun
Many Dutch students take part-time jobs, and more often than not you will hear them speaking in English if they work in cafés, pubs and bars – because they have work colleagues that are international students like you. However, it is more difficult to get a work permit and find a job after you graduate in the Netherlands.
Working in Germany – work is work, and fun is fun
The German working environment is a bit more serious. Working hours are working hours. Facebook or office gossiping aren’t really their thing. In fact, when Germans go work abroad they are shocked by how people tend to overshare private issue at work.
The good news is Germans value their free time a lot. So, when work ends — it really ends. No work emails and calls once you’re out of the office. A possible challenge in finding a job in Germany – as a student or graduate — is that most jobs require you to speak German.
Universities in Germany and the Netherlands with good employability prospects
Some universities focus on making their students as employable as possible, and Germany and the Netherlands are no exception. Here are some of the best options you have if you plan on working in these countries:
- Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, in Germany
- International Business School of Hochschule Fresenius, in Germany
- EBC Hochschule, in Germany
- Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), in the Netherlands
- University of Groningen, in the Netherlands
- Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, in the Netherlands
Choose with both your heart and your mind
When you are trying to decide where to study, you should try visiting these countries before making a decision. But know that whatever you choose, you’ll find a way to thrive. There are many non-EU people, studying, living and working in Germany and the Netherlands who have positively made it their home. And so can you!