The guidances have been written by AZSAB members and it covers all necessary information and tips for incoming students
By: Nuru Nabiyev 

Amsterdam is not only a financial, logistical, and technological hub of all of Benelux, but also a unique place to study at high-quality universities, grow career-wise, and of course, spend a great time with many international people.

Student Life

One of the reasons I decided to choose The Netherlands is because of its education system. First of all, it is fully in English. There are very few universities that are top 150 in the world and teach Computer Science in English. Cost is high, around 12k euros per year, but it is still very cheap compared to universities in the UK. Almost every major university in The Netherlands is in the top 200 at least and has a lot of various programs.

Dutch government plays a great role in adapting international students in the universities. There are many campuses that are scattered all around Amsterdam and provide great dormitories for international students. Note that most dormitories allow staying only for 1 year. The next year student will need to find a place to live by himself. Usually, a lot of students find an apartment and share it with their newly found friends. It is possible to find a room for about 450-800 euros, depending on the need and proximity to the center. I personally found a great deal for 435 euros, but 15 minutes away from Amsterdam by train, and 20 minutes away from my university (however it does not matter due to pandemic). But how do you find a room or apartment? The market is very hostile in Amsterdam, and it is advised to find a place before university kicks you out like a bird! It took me 2 months to search for a room. There are many websites and listings of rooms, they are greatly discussed on our Rotterdam page (

I personally love the student life in Amsterdam, most importantly due to cosmopolitanism and a huge number of international people from all over the world. Everyone feels like a quest, so there is no tension at all between various people. Of course, some people from our region might face a “cultural shock”, but this passes away fast, and it person adapts quickly. Amsterdam is also a very small and cozy city, so you can’t get lost here.

Universities are very much integrated into city life. All major universities and schools are mainly in the middle of either Amsterdam or business centers. During the first months of studies, there are many excursions and orientation programs that students will find helpful. There are also many independent events hosted primarily for students, where they mainly talk about career, life, books, sports, leisure, and many more. I personally like to use and

Studying in The Netherlands is hard, but it is to the point. What I mean by that, is that university programs are designed to prepare students for the career market, without studying irrelevant courses. Therefore, typical bachelor degrees are 3 years, compared to our 4-year program. Another very important fact for me was that the education system pushes towards more practical work, rather than theoretical. For example, I have experienced more group assignments and projects contributing to the final grade, rather than an exam or individual homework. Therefore, if you are motivated to work in a selected field, then studying here will be interesting, and not that hard.



Career Prospects
There are two possible moments to enroll in programs of the university: in September and February. All registrations are held in student administration offices.Even though Amsterdam is very small compared to Baku, career opportunities are much greater.
Amsterdam is considered a second financial hub in Europe, after Frankfurt (and excluding London if you are reading this after 1st of January 2021). There are also many tech jobs. If Germany and France are considered 1st and 2nd places of capitalization of tech jobs, then the Netherlands is 3rd, even though the population is 5 times less. On the other hand, Netherlands is number 1 in the number of startups per capita, which means that the proportions of entrepreneurs per person in The Netherlands are higher, thus higher chances to meet and socialize with rich people. It is well known that the US, France, UK, Germany have cities where all tech and startups are located, like Silicon Valley in the US; but the Netherlands sees big startups in almost every city – there is no specific city that hosts all the big tech. Dutch government explains this phenomenon due to the high quality of transportation – indeed, dutch trains are one the best in the world.

Enough of advertisement, what about Amsterdam? Here you can find HQs, financial, or technical branches of the following big companies:, Cisco Systems, WeTransfer, Adyen, TomTom, Uber, Atlassian, Google, Amazon, and more. Also, don’t forget about local industry standard giant companies like Shell, ABN, ING, Heineken, KML, Unilever, Nestle, and more. Trick: Amsterdam is great for IT and financial companies, while Rotterdam for logistical and transpirational companies.

I personally work at an IT startup as a mobile developer. Since I’m a non-EU student, I am allowed to work up to 16 hours total. With such a constraint, it was hard for me to find a job at first because most employers require software engineers to work full time. Note that it is easier to find a part-time job in restaurants, cafes, and grocery shops. However, the pay is slightly lower. Why slightly? Well, here we enter the social country.

In the Netherlands, the salary of people is more or less equally distributed, thus reducing the gap between the super-rich and poor people. It is great for the economy since overall life satisfaction is higher, but it might seem to be not great for businesses. However, Dutch law has many loopholes that allow paying less tax, which I’m not going to explain how. Workers also have many benefits. For example, it is really hard to get fired, and there are strong workforce unions, so they have a legal say if they are disappointed with an employer. I would say that the Netherlands, in general, stands between France and the UK in terms of socialistic and capitalistic laws for career prospects. As an Amsterdamer, there are slightly higher taxes for people too.

If you are a student and working 16 hours, then you are eligible for free healthcare, which is usually 100 euros per month. If you are an EU student and work at least 16 hours per week, then the government will also pay for your university fee (~1500 euros) and fully pay any transportation costs during weekdays! On weekends, the cost will be 50% lower.

Useful websites:
  • – If you are looking for salary insights, and even jobs
  • – will give inside knowledge of many startups and companies, such as market cap, employee number, and additional info on the financial wellbeing of a company. I highly recommend investing time there to find a place to work. They also have very interesting newsletters every week – great if you are an investor too.
  • – if you are a software engineer, then you know this website. They also show many insights on the IT industry worldwide
  • is familiar to you, and highly used in NL. Once you change your location to Amsterdam, you will receive tons of messages regarding work opportunities. Most of them are spam, but still don’t hesitate to answer them even with suggested messages. Recruiters use filters in LinkedIn to search and send messages, so make sure you fill your “interests” and “skills” to the maximum. Also, invest in your CV, and google for Search Engine Optimization – this will greatly increase the chances of your profile to be a recruiter.
  • – is useful if you are searching for small startups. Also possible for a remote. If you are working remotely, then I suggest you create a B.V. company for yourself and be the employer of yourself and then work as a remote. This way, even though you will pay higher taxes, you will be able to work more than 16 hours per week if you are a student. Yes, that is a loophole.
  • – is a great forum too. There are multiple subreddits that might be very helpful if you want to ask a question and read peoples’ stories related to work. For example, I am subscribed to it from here.
  • – actually useful for many topics, but also has many articles on starting a business in The Netherlands, including tax information.
  • If you plan to open a business, then governmental websites would be useful. Dutch government gives a lot of subsidies to many fields, for example, Eco Transport. This can be a great boost to your business. Also, don’t forget to check the EU’s websites for grants too, they are very generous, especially during pandemics.

If you plan to open a business in Amsterdam and have a good sum of money to invest in the office, then choose Amsterdam Zuid. This is a business area where many big HQs are located, such as ABN Amro, and the World Trade Center. VU University is also there, which might be useful if you plan to hire some interns. Internships can be paid and unpaid, but most of them have to be agreed with the university if you want the university to pay for your interns.
Cost and Quality of Life
CoL is high, but QoL is high too. My monthly spendings per months as a student:
  • 200 euros for food (excluding restaurants or deliveries). Food quality here is good, but with some exceptions. European Union controls many farmers and food producers, so you can be sure that your vegetables, fruits, and anything you buy to eat are controlled and no dirt included. On the other hand, I really don’t like meat here. Some of my friends don’t like tomatoes. It is about personal taste of course, but you can forget about abundant food flavors as it is in Azerbaijan.
  • A one-time date in a restaurant will cost you around 15-40 euros per person. Even though food in supermarkets is not as tasty as in Azerbaijan, there are many international food restaurants, especially in Amsterdam. You can find almost any kitchen in the world. Last year there is a fetish towards vegan food, and you can have great fast-food made entirely from plants. Even though I don’t buy meat in supermarkets, I always order meat food in high-end restaurants, because it is just different quality, but of course, costs much more.
  • 60-100 euros for transportation, usually to work and university. Sometimes, if I travel to another city, I would spend extra 15-20 euros one way. But note that public transportation is one of the best in the world, especially the timing. I use google maps all the time when I use any type of public transportation because everything runs like a clock. Also, I get my work-related transportation costs back, so my monthly expenditure is actually minimum, especially during corona times. If you live close to university or work, I suggest buying a bike instead, because bike lanes are everywhere – from highways to forests. Amsterdam is called City Of Bikes because there are more bikes than people!
  • 450 rent. I talked about the renting issues above, but here I will add that many new residential places are being built around Amsterdam and the city center. I personally like apartments, but typical dutch houses are also great, especially if you share with fellow students.
Apart from dutch cheese, many people associate Amsterdam with a city of sins. Indeed, you can find many coffee shops, casinos, escort-hotels around, but I assure you that these are mainly for tourists, especially from non-EU countries. I know only a few dutch people who use marijuana often, most of them use it maybe once a year, just to “chill”. Indeed, it helps to relax, but abusing it would push towards addiction. Hard drugs are, unfortunately, easy to find as well, but this is illegal in all of the Netherlands. Nevertheless, the crime and drug addiction rate is quite low. There are also free drug facilities in the Netherlands that help people to recover.

Many Dutch people prefer to have a beer, instead. A fun fact: Heineken is referred to as “piss-water” among locals. If you want to impress your new dutch friend with a beer – go to locally crafted beer bars instead, such as Brouwerij De Prael in Amsterdam.

Speaking of drugs, coffee is also widely used among the working class of people – one of the highest in the world. Even though dutch people work 36 hours per week and happiest in the world, espresso shots are prepared at least thrice a day – one in the morning to wake up, one after lunch, and once before leaving work. I personally like to have double-shot espresso with milk. Starbucks-like lifestyle is also a big-no in here, as in Italy and Portugal.

Personal Opinion
If you have reached these points, then you already know 50% of the knowledge about Amsterdam and the Netherlands in particular. Now it is time to experience it! I personally love the city and the international people that reside here. There are also drawbacks that I can’t cope with as someone from the south: lack of sun and tasty cheap food. I don’t even remember when I last time saw the sun! Two or perhaps three months ago. As I write this, it is raining outside, and it is indeed very depressing for me. Of course, many people will find it romantic, but this is not the case for me. I have to admit that this weather makes people productive though, and I bet that is what my boss wants.

How about the far future? The Netherlands, as the name suggests, is 80% below the water level, and it is highly likely that in 2100 Amsterdam will be the new Venice. There is a saying: if germans are the best mechanical engineers, then dutch people are the best civil engineers. Indeed, this is true: the Netherlands have to build many dams that protect their lands from going below the water, maybe they will do something about this later too. The government also has built an artificial island near Amsterdam and many more on the north. This country indeed has a huge motivation to stay afloat and survive! If you also believe in the future of this country, then you can safely call it home as well.