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Useful apps to download when moving to the Netherlands

Date:23 July 2019
Oh the joys of 21st century life
Oh the joys of 21st century life

Moving to a new country can be hard - you don’t know anyone, you don’t know the language, you don’t know where to go… Luckily you have your phone! I’ve made a short list of all the apps that will help make your life easier when moving to the Netherlands and coming to study in Groningen. This will save you some struggles and make your life easier. 

  1. Travel apps: 9292 or NS Reisplanner (translate to JourneyPlanner) (or both) are must-haves for living in the Netherlands. Both apps show how to get from A to B with public transportation. 9292 is more commonly used for busses, metros, and trams and the NS is more for long-distance travel - however, both work well. If you are arriving at Schiphol Airport and you need to figure out how to get to your new house in Groningen, these apps are the way to go. For cheap, long-distance bus rides, Flixbus is a great alternative to flying or trains. There are busses that go all across Europe, like the 3-hour bus ride to Hamburg for only 10 euro (which departs from Groningen’s train station!). 
  2. Weather apps: The Netherlands is known for its super unpredictable weather. One day it can be sunny and 32 °C and the next it could be 18 °C and rain. Having a weather app (or multiple…) can help you prepare for any weather. Due to the unpredictability, I recommend getting a few to check the weather. Furthermore, the app “BuienRadar” (directly translate to Shower or Storm Radar) shows a radar of any incoming rain showers or storms, along with a meter of how much rain will fall and for how long. With this, you can anticipate when to go outside or to bike, as biking in the rain is no fun and should be avoided at all costs.
  3. Whatsapp: while it may come as a given for Dutch and European students, the app Whatsapp is used by basically everyone in the Netherlands. It’s a chat app that's used for texting, video calling, voice calling and voice messaging, basically any form of digital communication here. A must-have app before coming to the Netherlands!
  4. Banking apps: almost everything in NL is paid for digitally, via cards or by transferring money. Having a banking app is a good idea, and almost all banks now have an app to manage your finances on the go. If you have a Dutch bank account, installing Tikkie is a good idea as it allows you to request money from people. A great idea for introduction weeks when you are meeting new people works better than splitting the bills into restaurants or bars. Another great finance-related app is WieBetaaltWat (directly translates to WhoPaidWhat), which is a handy app for when multiple people in the same group pay for each other. It’s easy to keep track of who paid what and how much. 
  5. Google apps: a handy tool is to download the Google translate app and download offline mode for the Dutch language. While almost everyone here speaks English, Google Translating a few words you see often is never a bad idea. You can download whole dictionaries of certain languages, so even when you don’t have an internet connection, you can still easily translate.  It’ll help you orient yourself quicker and before you know it, you’ll know exactly what an ingang/uitgang is. Doing a quick duolingo course before arriving in Groningen will help with recognizing words as well, or maybe even being able to say a few phrases! Another useful and obvious Google app to install is, of course, Google Maps (how else are you meant to find your way around a new city right??)

Bonus tip: 

Intro week apps: If you are participating in ESN or KEI week (or both) you can download the respected apps for the events! An easy way to review the timetable and other useful information. Next to useful information, the apps also provide easy access to the photos and videos taken during the event. 

Which apps do you think are most useful? Let us know in the comments below!

About the author

Hey! I’m Danique, a Dutch/American studying International Relations and International Organizations with a mild obsession with coffee, cats, and rowing. If you can’t find me, look for the girl (almost always) wearing pink and writing blogs.