Student Associations and Sports Clubs

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    Overview of Student Associations and Sports Clubs in the Netherlands

    Wondering how to make the most out of your experience as a student in the Netherlands? One great way to do so is by participating in extracurricular activities. 

    Study Associations in Dutch University Programmes

    The most popular choice of extracurricular activity for students in the Netherlands is perhaps becoming a member of the study association connected to your study programme. 

    One of the greatest perks of joining a student association is that you will likely enjoy discounts on mandatory textbooks relevant to your study programme, as almost all study associations offer this benefit. 

    In addition, many study associations allow you to sell your used textbooks. You just have to make sure that they’re in good condition and are still a relevant edition. This way, you can get some money back while helping other students get their books for a cheaper price.

    Most study associations plan events for its members throughout the year. These can include everything from parties and pub quizzes, to special lectures or talks by professionals working in a field relevant to your study. 

    This way, you can socialize with your fellow course mates as well as gain a deeper understanding of your course material at the same time.

    If you would like to get more involved, contributing as a committee member for your student association is a great idea too. It’s always worth a try especially if you want to build up your CV, as a good CV will come in handy when applying for internships in the future. 

    Creative Associations for Music, Literature, and More

    You can also find associations that delve into the arts, whereby members engage in film, pottery, painting, dance and more. 

    Many of these are specifically for students and conduct sessions in English, so it’s easily accessible even if you don’t speak Dutch. You can also meet others from outside of your field. 

    There are also many associations centered around music like choirs, musical groups, or orchestras. If you love music and have musical skills you wish to put to use, these associations will offer excellent opportunities to do so.

    Furthermore, some associations focus on literature. These can be writing groups, book clubs, or poetry clubs, where you are free to contribute your own work as well as discuss those of others. 

    Cultural and International Associations

    Several student associations in the Netherlands focus specifically on international students. 

    These associations are especially ideal if you’re looking to join an international community, making it a popular choice for exchange students.

    One common international student association is the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). They operate in several cities across the Netherlands and plan events throughout the year. 

    Most notably, introduction weeks are organized at the start of every semester, so students just arriving in the Netherlands can get a proper introduction to their new city of residence and meet other international students. 

    Though membership is required for the introduction week and grants free entrance to the events for the rest of the year, you can still attend most events without a membership, as long as you pay an entrance fee.

    There are also student associations based on nationality. This is to gather a community of a particular cultural group in the city, in hopes of bonding over shared traditions in a foreign environment. These associations can be for any group of people across the world, like those from Latin countries, Arabic countries, Scandinavian countries, and such. 

    Identity Associations for Vegans, LGBTQ+, and More

    Rather than focusing on a specific activity, many associations instead focus on an identity shared amongst its members. 

    A common one of these that is available in most cities in the Netherlands would be LGBTQ+ associations. These usually focus on providing a safe space for its queer members, along with planing pride parades and other such events.

    Pride parade in the canals of Amsterdam.

    There are also student associations focused on veganism and animal rights. Here, people can share their own experiences and find a community amongst people with similar beliefs.

    Last but not least, there are associations that are based on religious groups. These are typically less student-oriented and involve people from all walks of life. 

    Members usually meet at the church, mosque, synagogue, or other places of worship. Meeting and interacting with other people of the same religious belief – especially when surrounded by foreign culture – can be a great comfort to some.

    Most universities will have a gym for your workouts.

    Clubs for Sports and Physical Activity

    If you want a break from your studies and want to focus on physical activities instead, you would probably be happy to know that sports associations are quite popular among students in the Netherlands. 

    A membership fee is usually required, so book a trial period if you’re not certain about joining.

    There are associations for all kinds of sports in the Netherlands. The type of sports available varies depending on which city you live in, though most commonly played sports such as football, badminton, basketball and hockey are easy to find throughout the Netherlands. 

    It would be a shame not to mention that the Netherlands’ environment is particularly suitable for water sports such as rowing and kayaking. 

    Give these a try if you’re looking for something new and want to take advantage of the vast Dutch canal network that runs throughout the country.

    If you want to focus mainly on the exercise instead of the sport, there are also various fitness associations. Many of these cater to students by providing student discounts so that you pay less for a membership.   

    Water sport is a favourite among students.

    In a nutshell, there are many types of associations you can join as a student in the Netherlands. 

    We encourage you to put yourself out there and search for what’s available in your area. Perhaps you’ll find something that draws on your interests, or even discover new ones.

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