The Humble Abode (Renting in NL)

Just a picture of my new room because I love it.

Rent is what constitutes a major chunk of your expenses when you’re living here in the NL. However, knowing that there is a possibility of receiving certain rental benefits is a real game changer. When I started digging about this, the information I found wasn’t really clear.  So, I decided to write it all down in this blog.

 

The Dutch Government provides the rental allowance to people if you satisfy certain conditions. The following link will be helpful to check the eligibility criteria.

https://www.belastingdienst.nl/wps/wcm/connect/nl/toeslagen/content/kan-ik-huurtoeslag-krijgen

The whole process of getting the allowance is a little time consuming and a tricky one, but patience bears the sweetest fruits. You would receive approximately 50% of your base rent as allowance. You pay the full rent first and then you receive the allowance from the Government into your bank account. You first check your eligibility for the allowance and then go ahead with creating a DigiD for yourself on https://mijn.toeslagen.nl/. Once you apply for the DigiD, you will receive an SMS and a letter by post (that is what I received in 2017) giving you an activation code that needs to be used to activate your account within five days. If you fail to do it on time, you need to repeat the process again.

Once DigiD is activated, you fill in the form on the website as per the numbers that are given on your contract and wait. It is be noted that you will NOT receive any allowance for your gas/water/light/internet usage. So, don’t include that amount in your application. It usually takes long (took me about four months) to get the whole thing processed for the first time. You could be asked to personally visit the tax office with a set of documents and submit it after which the application will be processed.

If you move, you submit your address change at:

 https://www.delft.nl/delften/Municipal_services/Reporting_a_change_of_address

It is forwarded to the to the tax authorities. Further, you will have to submit a change in the rent again but this time it will be hassle-free.

P.S: Always check your postal mailbox.

 

The Quarterly-Life @ TUD

New Year’s over and the Quarter 2 is almost coming to an end. Time passes by so quickly. The very first day of the quarter, you are all enthusiastic about a new beginning. It’s a fresh start. You attend all your lectures, do all your chores and life seems good. Within a month or two, you’re already prepping to write your exams.

This is the story of every student who has probably been in the semester system previously. You will always feel that the examination comes in so quickly! There is no time to take a break in between. If you need to score well, you need to be consistent with your studies. That is the case everywhere, but here, it is more fast-paced because of the quarterly system.

TU Delft is one of THE best places you could study in. The emphasis is on self-learning. The amount of effort that you put into learning a topic will determine how good you are going you will be at it. Every lecture is for two hours with a break of fifteen minutes in between. Lectures will be recorded so that you can go through it again if you didn’t understand it the first time. Lecture slides, homework, assignments, extra reading material, everything is made available on Brightspace. Good use of these materials will help ace a course easily.

Dept of Electrical Engineering (EWI)- TU Delft

A week before the examination is the study period. There are usually no lectures during that week. There are plenty of places on the campus that are open during the examination period to enable students to study in the college. The library is so far, the most popular choice of study, it will be open until 2am. But if it full, you could always go to Aula or EWI to study during the day. EWI has tables in the cafeteria, the ground floor and there is a study hall on the second floor. Recently, it has been decided to open some of the lecture halls during the exam period.

 

Library- TU Delft

These are the few things that you need to know before/after you have decided to come here. All is good, but I must mention that it takes a lot of consistency in studies to perform well in the exam. You need to be mentally prepared for that kind of work once you are here. It is not going to be easy, but it’s not impossible either.

(P.S The next article will be something more cheerful because exams will be over! Good luck studying!)

Winter Break

With almost a week left for the year to end, the whole of Delft is quiet. Two weeks of vacation has managed to get every single soul out of the city. Foreseeing this, I decided to go see the Christmas celebrations in Cologne and Brussels. I must say, the whole of Europe has amazing train connectivity. The trip was totally worth it.

Christmas Market- Cologne, Germany

Cologne has one of the world’s most famous Christmas Markets which is open until the 23rd/24th of December. The HUGE Christmas tree with every inch of it covered in lights leaves one dumbstruck. The aroma of the deep-fried food, the mulled wine, and the music can lift anyone’s Christmas spirits. A word of caution- none of these food stalls accept a card, so keep cash handy. The market has a lot of pretty Christmas souvenirs to take home. The weather being cold, beautiful handwoven woolen scarfs, caps and gloves that are for sale tempt your soul to buy them.

Christmas, however, is a family holiday and most of the places shut down around that time. This is the case with the whole of Europe I believe. However, all the stores, museums resume activities again the day after Christmas. It would always be wise to plan a trip bearing this in mind so that you aren’t disappointed when the activities are shut down.

Chocolate Manneken Pis and the gorgeous Waffles- Brussels

Post-Christmas, I had the chance to visit Brussels and Antwerp. Both the cities left me in awe of their beauty. Brussels has almost every tourist attraction at a walkable distance from the city center. The most amusing place for me was the Manneken Pis. It is basically the statue of a boy who is peeing into a pond. He is dressed up in various costumes. You wouldn’t believe it if I told you that there is an entire gallery that houses all the costumes that he has been dressed to date. The neighborhood of this statue is filled with waffles stores. It would be a crime to not try it. It is food for the soul.

 

Grand Place, Brussels

Antwerp managed to make it to my list of the best shopping destinations. The street just outside the station is a shopper’s paradise. You will find probably every possible brand of clothing and a wide variety of choices for food too. The Thai wok just outside the station is a must-try food. (P.S the quantity  is too much).

With these three places, my short trip came to an end and I am all geared up for the upcoming year!

Winter is Here

My hyper-excited self, seeing all that snow!

If you follow Game of Thrones, you know what I am talking about. Only this time, it is literal. One week ago, one of my friends told me that it is going to snow the next weekend. I tried to hide my excitement just so that I wouldn’t jinx it. Even if it were to happen, I expected it to be just a light shower. Just sprinkle some magic all around and vanish. Nevertheless, I was still excited!

10-12-2017

I woke up (for the first time) at 8 am. I took a good look outside the window and went back to bed. It was just another day when its cold, the sun is not out, you have high hopes of seeing snow and ended up feeling a little disappointed.

11am, I woke up again, looked out my window when I noticed the shower. After a week’s confusion between whether its snow or hail (aka snoil), I had to confirm. I put my hand outside and I had snowflakes on my palm! I had seen snow earlier but had never seen a snowfall. It was an enthralling sight. After making plans with a couple of friends, we suited up and headed out. Oh boy! I was dumbstruck by the view.

Partners in crime.

Braving the cold, we reached the road in front of the EEMCS faculty. The sky wasn’t to be seen anymore. Snowflakes everywhere, going into our eyes and mouth. Hands were bone-chillingly numb. However, it didn’t succeed in hampering our spirits. After a battle of throwing snow at each other, we walked to the Library. A breathtakingly beautiful sight.

After realizing that our shoes were drenched in snow, we decided to head back home and ended up stopping in the middle of a road for a picture (don’t ever try it). Finally, after treading in the snow for another 10 mins, reached the room and the first thing I did? Go sit next to the radiator and wait for all the senses to return! The first winter in Europe, the first snowfall in a lifetime-it was an amazing day!

 

 

First Impressions

August 20th, 2017, I was finally in Amsterdam! A bright beautiful Sunday morning when the shuttle bus picked me and a few other students on the first trip to the campus that day. The entire experience was fascinating, weird and hard-to-believe. After about 45-50 mins, we reached the campus of TU Delft. All the images I had seen on Google were right in front of me. The dream had turned into a reality. My name is Manasa. I am from India and TU Delft is my first experience across the world away from home.

Moving to a new place is just as scary as one can imagine. In my head, I visualized a hostile environment where I was the lone Ninja fighting the world. Being my skeptical self, I was genuinely surprised by the way it all turned out. The beauty of the vast pastures of land with cows, sheep, horses, and windmills blew my mind away. I was still a little anxious about interacting with the people here. Once I set foot on campus, my anxiety faded eventually. Europe had already won me over and I knew it was going to be the beginning of something good.

Post a warm welcome, the volunteers helped us out with almost everything from unloading the luggage to dragging it across for registration and leading them back to the bus to be
taken to the housing- they did it all. People giving you a smile and greeting you as they walk by was something that wouldn’t have happened back home. I have to mention that if you’re on a cycling lane, people will shout out to you and ask you to move away instead of ringing their bell ( ringing the bell at someone is considered rude I believe, never seen anyone actually using the bell).

The first week came with a warm weather and a lot of work-unpacking, settling in, shopping and more shopping. It took a while to get used to the sun setting at 9pm in the night. On a couple of instances, I have forgotten to have my dinner because it was so bright outside. As for the weather, I am from a really warm country and Netherlands’ warm was still a little cold for me, so I always had a hoodie on. Since I couldn’t handle the cold, sitting under the hot sun made me so happy and that is something I wouldn’t have done back home.

I knew Europe was going to be beautiful but I did not expect people to be so polite and friendly. That has definitely been the highlight for me so far. I figured out one thing for sure, no matter how prepared you are, your initial opinion will change after you reach here, for the good. The initial fear and the anxiety will go away and you will like this place.