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This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.
Remember to also visit the Participants
section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
Click a heading below to see section content.
University College Utrecht
UCU currently enrolls a richly diverse population of approximately 650 students from various backgrounds and countries. About one-third of the student body is composed of international students from all over the world. Their common interest is their motivation to learn in an international environment.
The program at UCU is recommended for sophomore- and junior-level undergraduates who wish to benefit from a unique opportunity to live and study in Europe in a residential environment. You will live on a small campus separate from the main university. Although students of all levels may find UCU courses interesting, graduating seniors may find the academic environment lacks some of the independence of inquiry and activity that might be expected in senior seminars on the UC campus; the closed social atmosphere may feel somewhat confining for those accustomed to independence and a degree of solitude. Class attendance is taken. Instructors will explain the attendance policy – which is strict.
UCU is modeled on American liberal arts colleges such as Smith and Oberlin. Among the special characteristics of UCU are its small classes (a maximum of 25 students), its system of individual advisors called “tutors,” and its informal environment that encourages individual attention and lively intellectual exchange among students and instructors. All courses are taught in English and grading is done using the American letter-grade system. The college specializes in undergraduate teaching and strives to connect rather than isolate fields of study, challenging you to integrate different aspects of your curriculum.
Because UCU is an honors college, Dutch students must pass rigorous entrance exams to be accepted. It is not an understatement to say that UCU provides an intensive study program. Given its small size and residential character, you will quickly get to know other students, so it is a friendly place to reside and study.
Group work is also very common at UCU as opposed to UC. The idea is that you form a small group and write a paper or prepare a presentation together. Together you are responsible for achieving a good result. It is not unusual that you are graded as a group, and not individually, on these assessments. Part of the learning experience is cooperation, commitment, working in a team, and taking responsibility for what you as an individual and your group as a whole have achieved.
UCU has a tutor system, meaning that each student gets assigned a tutor. The tutor is your academic and personal coach during your studies at UCU. You will meet your tutor during the mandatory UCU introduction week. Final course enrollment goes through your tutor. You need to keep in touch with them about your course preferences and study track. It is advisable to meet with your tutor regularly during the semester, so that they know how you’re doing. One important moment is the mid-term meeting with your tutor. Problems with regard to courses, course work, grades, etc. need to be discussed with your tutor. They will involve the instructor if necessary.
You are required to take four courses per semester. Each course earns 6 UC quarter units (4 semester units) for a total of 24 UC quarter units (16 semester units) units per semester.
Courses are available through the following departments:
- Humanities: philosophy, religious studies, art history, performing arts, Dutch, history, linguistics, and literature
- Science: mathematics, chemistry, neuroscience, pre-med courses, physics, astrophysics, and biology (few labs)
- Social Science: geography, economics, sociology, cultural anthropology, law, psychology, and political science
Generally, it is recommended that you choose courses that are at the 200 and 300 level. With approval from the International Officer and your tutor, you may enroll in a maximum of one course at Utrecht University if it is relevant to your academic work and fits into your UCU course schedule. All courses are taught in English.
University College Utrecht also offers academic core courses that are designed to teach the academic skills applicable across an array of disciplines. These courses cover research methods and statistics, writing and composition, argumentation analysis, statistics, and foreign languages. Clarify with your UC campus departmental advisor which of these courses might be meaningful for your study plan, since some courses from this group count only toward lower-division UC credit.
You will be able to access course information for the coming academic year by May on the UCU website. Upon making your course selection on the UCU application form, be sure to list alternatives in addition to your course preferences in case the courses you have picked are not offered during your term of study.
You will receive your final course enrollment after you arrive in Utrecht, during your Introduction Week.
Switching classes is only possible in the first week of classes. If you are in doubt whether the class you’re in is right for you (class level, course content, etc.), visit your tutor in the first week to discuss your concerns. Your tutor is the person who can try to drop the course for you and enroll you in another one, not the instructor.
For information about grades, see the Academic Information
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Papers are a very common means of examination. Even in science classes students have to write papers, which is uncommon in UC. Go to your instructor or to your tutor if you need extra help with papers for science classes. Generally it is assumed that you know how to write a scientific paper so the instructor may pay little or no attention to it in class. You are expected to take the initiative yourself if you need extra guidance.
Grading is done according to American letter grades, as opposed to numerical grades 1-10 which is common for Dutch universities. Some instructors are not used to letter grades and it has happened in the past that instructors gave numerical grades for short assignments or even mid term exams. If this is the case and if you’re unsure about the letter grade conversion, talk to your instructor and/or tutor. Final grades are always letter grades. Note that grading based on a curve – a form of relative ranking of class performance – is uncommon at UCU/Dutch universities. You will be graded on the basis of objective standards and not on your relative rank in the class. Theoretically speaking it is therefore possible that there are no A’s given if none of the students performed as such.
Grades for the fall semester are typically available in March and grades for the spring semester are typically available in August.
Extending UCEAP Participation
Improve Your Language Skills
Many people in the Netherlands speak excellent English, and English is the language of instruction for all courses.
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation
Travel to Your Host Country
The Netherlands has a temperate climate similar to the American Northwest. Summers in the Netherlands tend to be cool but pleasant, and winters are very cold and wet with occasional snow showers. The weather changes frequently and a sunny morning can change in a few hours to a cold and wet afternoon.
During the fall and spring the temperature ranges from about 40ºF to 60ºF during the day. A warm raincoat or jacket over a sweater should be warm enough for most days. Light snowfall can occur between November and March. From December to February the weather is windy, cold, and damp. Spring is beautiful, with flowers and blossoming trees everywhere, starting with crocuses in February. From June to August expect some hot and humid days. (Over 77ºF is considered hot.)
Insurance for Personal Possessions
Understanding Your Finances
It is important that you carefully read all of the information available in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and discuss it with the person who will assist you with your finances while you are abroad.
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
Additionally, make sure that you have a bank balance in the U.S. of at least $1,000, so that you can pay your first month’s rent, obtain books for classes, and manage other expenses. Ask your bank what the daily withdrawal limit is and what the fees are.
All of the academic buildings and housing at UCU have computer and printing facilities. You will receive a personal e-mail account. The computer facilities are open from 8:30 a.m. until 1 a.m. daily. There are approximately 200 computers available for use on campus.
All rooms are wired with data ports that can be utilized for a quarterly fee. It is not necessary for you to bring a laptop, but if you prefer to work in your room, you can. Utrecht relies heavily on a local campus Intranet for disseminating critical information about classroom schedules and exams. You need to immediately learn how to navigate the campus Intranet and should check it on a daily basis.
University College Utrecht
Many of the housing units have a shared phone, but you cannot automatically call off campus with these phones. To place outgoing calls, you will need a calling card with an access number in the Netherlands. Receiving calls is free of charge. You can buy calling cards at stores near campus.
After the DCL, you will receive a personal campus mailbox address; however, packages cannot be sent to that mailbox. Have packages sent to:
University College Utrecht
3584 ED Utrecht
UCU students will live on the UCU campus in a residence hall. See information for term housing below.
University College Utrecht Term Housing
You will live on campus in a residence hall in a unit with 6 to 12 Dutch and international students. You are required to live on campus and will be automatically placed in a university dormitory. You will be assigned to a single room, but may request a double room. Each unit has shared bathrooms and a living room. The rooms are furnished, and you will receive a bedding package upon arrival. The bedding package contains a duvet, duvet cover, pillow, pillowcase, fitted sheet, and flannel under-sheet. The bedding is included in your UCEAP fees and is yours to keep. You will need to supply your own towels. There is a phone for incoming calls only (outgoing calls require a calling card). All rooms are equipped with Internet connections.
UCU and UCEAP strongly urge you to take photos of any/all damages you notice upon moving in and to make an appointment for a room check before departure from the program.
UCU has its own campus, so residence halls and academic buildings are never more than a two-minute walk from your dorm.
You are responsible for the cost of all room and board during the program. Upon acceptance by UCU, you will be required to pay a deposit of €200, but this will go toward your housing fees. You will be billed directly by the UCU office; if you are a fall student, expect to receive a bill in June/July, and if you are a spring student, expect to receive a bill in November/December.
Payments can be made per semester or in monthly installments. You can also pay bills by credit card, although there is a service fee for doing so. You may be asked for a key deposit of €25.
A few weeks after the semester has ended, an inventory will be taken of your room. Cleaning fees and any costs to repair damage to the unit will be equally divided between all the tenants (fall, spring, and year students) and billed after the academic year has ended (so fall students may receive a bill after the spring semester).
All housing units have kitchenettes that contain a hotplate, a microwave, a coffee maker, and a refrigerator where you can prepare simple meals. The campus dining hall provides breakfast, lunch, and dinner for students and faculty. Brunch is served on weekends. Meals are served during the semester, but not during winter break or after the end of the second semester. The Dining Hall always serves a vegetarian option and will take any dietary restrictions into account upon request.
In the Netherlands it is customary to have cold meals for breakfast and lunch and a hot meal for dinner. In common kitchens, there may be a cooking schedule. Students often take turns cooking a hot meal. This way of cooking is inexpensive because everyone who attends dinner shares in the cost of the meal. If you decide to cook a meal for the corridor, you have to buy and pay (in advance) for the food yourself. At the end of the month the expenses are divided and paid. The refrigerator and cupboard are also shared. Be sure to label the food you store in the kitchen.
Dinner is often the best time for socializing, so you are advised to have your meals together with Dutch students. It will enable you to learn more about Dutch life and make friends. However, you are not obligated to have your meals together and you can always prepare your own meals if you like.
The UCEAP student budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
UCU students will receive a student card, which provides access to libraries, computer facilities, and discounts on sports and cultural events.
Students with Disabilities
UCU is wheelchair accessible, but there are limited resources for accommodating other disabilities.
The UCEAP student budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Local & International News
In addition to the following sections, read the Health chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad. For additional travel health information, access the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travelers’ Health web page.
In addition to the excellent counseling resources available at De Uithof, private counseling is also available. If you are a UCU student, you can consult with your tutor.
Traffic & Transportation Safety
The University of California, in accordance with applicable
Federal and State law and University policy, does not
discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion,
sex, gender identity, pregnancy,* disability, age, medical
condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status,
citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era
veteran or special disabled veteran. The University also
prohibits sexual harassment. This nondiscrimination policy
covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs
and activities. Inquiries regarding the University’s
student-related nondiscrimination policies may be directed to
the campus Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action
* Pregnancy includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical
conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.