For the entirety of my first year; I lived in Delft, albeit at some distance from the university. Despite the 15 minutes of biking (which was quite the effort during winters); my daily schedule was pretty standardized:
1. Attend lectures in the day
2. Assignments in the evening, in the library or the EWI building
3. Take a walk around the campus; enjoy the weather
4. Bike back home.
I believe this applies to most students at TU Delft. But when one has no courses to study at the university in the second year, the story changes. I chose to do my masters thesis at a firm based in Arnhem; which is situated in East Netherlands, hundreds of kilometers away from Delft. This, as you can imagine; leads to some regular travel between the cities.
The beginning of the Master’s thesis is the most confusing part; and that is the stage I currently am on the date of this blog post. To understand the idea behind the project to be undertaken; one’s role and how it fits in the bigger picture while still finding a research question to answer requires constant contact with supervisors both at the university and the company- hence the regular movement between the cities. That being said – one is always free to do more courses in the second year if they can manage to fit it alongside the workload of Master’s Thesis.
Because of the distance; the expenses add up as well. Looking around for a few cost-saving options; I stumbled upon NS Flex. NS is the company which runs the train services in most part of The Netherlands; and if you have a personalized OV Chipkaart (Public transport card); you can avail the multitude of packages they offer. A few of them which caught my eye were:
1. Dal Voordeel – 5 Euros per month; gives you 40% discount on off-peak hours(weekdays) and entire weekend.
2. Altijd Voordeel – 23 Euros per month; gives everything in Dal Voordeal; and also gives 20% discount during peak hours(weekdays).
3. Dal Vrij – 103 Euros per month; all travel during off-peak hours are free.
These plans, since the inception of NS Flex, can be chosen per month and not yearly. This means; if you predict a lot of travel in a particular month, you can upgrade your plan. I personally currently have an Altijd Voordeel; and am considering a Dal Vrij due to the regularity of travel.
I also took the decision of biking to work and back everyday; and not take public transport. I chose to rent a bike temporarily from Swapfiets. My decision to rent a bike over buying a second-hand one was mostly due to past experiences – I ended up spending a lot more on repairs than I bought the bike for. These rented bikes are serviced for free, and are comparatively economical for a student at 12 Euros a month.
So; if you see yourself travelling quite often during your stay in The Netherlands; consider getting yourself one of the deals from NS and maybe save some extra bucks for those beers? And if not; bike away!