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Erasmus and extra funding

Looking after yourself and having fun

Erasmus and extra funding

As the placement is credit bearing, involves full-time work and is undertaken in one of the Erasmus registered countries, you have the option to apply for the Erasmus Training Programme to receive extra funding. The steps and conditions for this will all be explained in your ‘pre-departure talk’ , where you’ll also receive a handout guide. You’ll have to contact the Erasmus department yourself to arrange this, but it’s worth organising it as a group meeting for all of the Materials students going to Eindhoven, so make sure to pick a time you’re all free. There may be larger talks of this kind given, but I think the time of the year (March – April) meant that there wasn’t anyone for us to attend. Although, to be honest, it was useful having a smaller group and talk, with everyone going to the same country and on a ‘training’ placement, for discussion of specific details to our case.

The main forms you’ll have to fill out are the ‘Training Agreement Part 1’ which you have to complete and send to your project supervisor in Holland for them to fill in their relevant section and sign, so make sure you do this in plenty of time before leaving. Once you arrive at Philips you’ll again need your supervisor to sign a ‘Proof of arrival’ form, and finally the ‘Training Agreement Part 3’ at the end of your placement. (‘Training Agreement Part 2’ need only be filled out if there have been any changes from ‘Part 1’.)

After sending the prior two forms you should receive a first instalment (~70%) and then the last payment only once you’re back in England with ‘Part 3’ completed and signed. The amount you receive will depend on the exact duration of your placement (so may be 4 ½ months not 5).

If you are not an E.U. citizen (sorry if you’re British and reading this in 2019) then you’ll need to arrange your visa as soon as possible after your place has been confirmed, to ensure everything is set to go at the beginning of May. It’ll be useful being in England for this process and if you don’t get this arranged quickly then set backs may mean you have to start your placement later than planned.

The University of Sheffield also offer free travel insurance through the programme, which covers emergency medical expenses and the usual travel allowances of baggage lost or flight cancellation etc. .

Additionally, to sign up for the funding we had to take an initial Dutch language test to gauge our level of learning. It is 100% okay to do badly on this because the point is for you to receive free online lessons in Dutch appropriate for your language level. (Many of us just clicked any answer and next, but my English and minimal German did help me qualify for the advanced beginner in vocabulary! So it’s a bit of fun if you have some time to spare).

You can check your eligibility for Erasmus here:  http://www.sheff.ac.uk/erasmus/outgoing/prospective-out/eligibility

The Erasmus process also advises contacting student finance to let them know you are working abroad as part of your degree for further financial support.  They may give you an extra loan or reimburse some of your flight costs. This is known as a travel grant and you should be sent the relevant steps for applying once you have contacted the loans company.

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Housing

Looking after yourself and having fun

Housing

Finding somewhere to live really isn’t as daunting as it may seem for a city in another country. The key is to start early, once you’ve received your Philips contracts ~ March. The good news is Philips pay you an additional €140.00 a month tax free towards rent. Plus, you’ll find most places available will have bills included, or a system set-up with a set monthly amount for energy that will be refunded if not maxed out- so you can avoid hunting down the best tariff deals amongst Dutch companies!

Another great benefit is that most Dutch companies have an English version of their website available, staff who speak English, and Dutch contracts pre-translated to English for signing. Additionally, Eindhoven often has an influx of international interns only staying for short periods of time, so rental of studios in particular should be flexible on the dates that fit you. You’ll find that there are houses, flats, studios and options to go into halls so it’s very likely you’ll find something!

Philips do have a link with a the company Rostvast, philips-student@rotsvast.nl, where Philips will pay for the brokerage fee for you. However, applying this way will often mean allocation to a room in a flat with others you don’t know, and I heard from others that they don’t settle this arrangement until you’re very soon to leave (which just equals panic to me!). I wouldn’t be worried about living with new people, but I know in previous years a student has found themselves in a flat with people of predominantly one nationality, which meant they preferred speaking their own language and excluded the student. Another thing to consider is there may also be others from Sheffield who you may want to live with!

There were actually seven of us from our year who went out to work at Philips. Initially, four of us tried to find a place together but some companies said there was a law in place in Eindhoven that requires an extra licence for more than three adults to live together. My understanding is that accommodating more adults means that further Government standards have to be met by the landlord. Because of this, you’ll likely find most of the ‘4 people’ properties are further advertised as a 3 adult /1 child or 2 adult / 2children.  Just something to be aware of if you were planning to live together, but worth trying different companies as they may have registered licences in place.

It ended up that three of us rented a house together and the others split into pairs in two separate flats. Really, a key thing to be aware of is that you probably won’t be in student accommodation so the rent and deposit will be higher than you are likely used to and you may have to prove your financial stability and reliability.

For example, in order to sign for the house, I had to prove that I alone, as lead tenant, would have at least 3 times the FULL rent amount in my account throughout my stay. (So essentially 6 times what I would pay a month; my ⅓, x 3 to make the full rent amount, and x 3 to show my financial reliability). I thought this was silly as it just ignored the fact that other two tenants were responsible for the other 2/3s of the rent, and put sole ‘proof’ responsibility on me, so be warned if you’re lead tenant! I was also asked to forward on everyone’s Philips contracts showing our income and confirmation of employment in Eindhoven.

Additionally, it is quite common for the deposit to be worth two months’ rent in Holland and you’ll also find a lot of properties renting for a minimum of 6 months but it may still be worth e-mailing to show your interest if time is wearing thin and they want to fill their property!

You’ll also want to look out for a fully furbished place! So with saucepans, crockery and bedding and such, as well as wardrobes and sofas, table etc. However, you’re probably not going to fly out to view the place before signing the contract, so make sure you check any photos available on the website and have a good discussion with the letting agency over the contract and exactly what’s included. Our house was advertised as a fully furnished ‘3 bedroom’ property but on inspection of the website photos, two of the rooms didn’t actually have beds. Fortunately, I questioned this in enough time that they could be added to the contract, and the property, in time for our arrival with no extra charge.

Don’t be afraid to ask or request if aspects of the contract can be altered, there’s probably more room for negotiation actually than with student houses as you’re paying more monthly.

Other advice it to check the location – mainly based on google cycle time! I found a 25 minutes cycle to the HTC and 10-15 minutes into town worked really well. I’d say you want to aim to be closer to town (look up Primark or St. Catharina Kerk) than the HTC, in my opinion, in case you want to walk in. I lived in an area called Strijp-S which was lovely, but for a ease of night out, for example, you may want a location closer to town.

A final note on houses is to say, please check your inventory and contract carefully to make any disputes as easy as possible to resolve. Your deposit will probably be a lot of money and you’ll want that back sooner rather than later and most of it too! Also please consider that in May you could have a deposit out on your current Sheffield house, your Eindhoven house, and your Sheffield house for next year…so saving up around January onwards could be helpful!

Some of the letting agencies myself and other Philips interns used are below;

  • www.rotsvast.nl/en/rotsvast-eindhoven –  does offer complete flat and house rental as oposed to the ‘single room option’ booked through the e-mail;  philips-student@rotsvast.nl as mentioned above.
  • www.stoit.nl/en – the company I was with. Range of properties available. Were very fast at replying for all admin at beginning and end of tenancy which was useful, however soooo strict on contract I cried.
  • goethvastgoed.nl/en/home – offers some great studio rooms within a house of 6 and a garden, also a higher floor apartment flat for two, north in the city with a great view.
  • eindhoven2stay.com – part of Holland2stay, offers studios with roof access in the centre of Eindhoven.

BSN and Stadpas

Looking after yourself and having fun

BSN and Stadpas (Once you are in The Netherlands)

As you won’t be a tourist but actually working and living within The Netherlands you will have to register to get a Burger Service Number (BSN), as a citizen in Eindhoven. You can register at the Eindhoven ‘Stadhuis’, or Town Hall as we’d call it, by calling up or walking in to book a meeting in advance. This will likely only book you a time slot and when you arrive on the day you’ll be asked to take another ‘ticket’ before you’re actually called to see someone.

KEY THINGS TO NOTE are that if you are staying for over 4 months (which you will be if you are on the MEng industrial placement) you will need to state this when you call up to book. This essentially means you register as a ‘resident’ rather than a ‘non-resident’, both involve the implications of Dutch laws, but for the latter, you are not considered to be permanently living there.

For example, the BSN will allow you to be reimbursed for tax reductions on wages, but being a registered resident will also gain you a card, ‘Stadpas’ (pictured), for the rubbish disposal system and discounts throughout the centre.  You don’t have to add a photo of yourself if you just use the card for the disposal units.

pass

 

By law and for your own benefit you want to get this sorted out ASAP on settling in!! You will be taxed about 50% of your income from Philips for each month. To avoid this, as soon as you have received your BSN number you’ll want to e-mail your ‘admission and payroll specialist’ at Philips – the person who e-mailed you your contracts – or the Philips People Services e-mail; PPS.Europe@Philips.com.

I believe you’ll need to do with within the first week of May to avoid being taxed for that first month. Most of us missed that deadline but just got twice the money back in June. You only need to send them your BSN once for it to be effective every month. You can of course let yourself get taxed every month and then just send your BSN off in the final month and still receive all the money back but just in one go instead, however, you’ll probably find you want the money as you go!

On the day of registration, you’ll need your new address in Eindhoven, an address in England, your passport and you’ll also need your birth certificate (good luck prying this from your mother’s fingers!) if you are registering for over 4 months. I recommend having housing contract printed and your home address written clearly down to help speed up the process.

Deregistering can only be done WITHIN 5 days of departure from the Netherlands (I did mine the day of my flight!). It only takes about 10 minutes and you can just walk in and take a waiting ticket on the day. I think you only need your passport, if that, for deregistering.

For more information, see; www.eindhoven.nl/documents-2/registration-of-nonresidents-and-delivery-BSN-1.htm (a great website in general for a guide to Eindhoven life!)

 

 

 

 

 

Banking

Looking after yourself and having fun

Banking

I highly recommend you setting up a Dutch bank account whilst you’re out in The Netherlands and to have your income paid directly into it, you’ll get free NL withdrawals and avoid exchange rates. Also some big stores (Albert Heijn) may not accept U.K. cards!

I initially transferred over some savings for my first month to live on prior to the first ‘payday’ (around the 29th usually), but for most of my time I lived off the wages from Philips so having my account and banking app really helped. It just eliminates the transfer steps, time and charges involved with exchanging the money back to pounds and then back to euros again. I also went out with some euros in cash for the first few days before the account was set up, and with some money on my Post Office Travel Card that I set up prior to flying out. However, once I was required to top-up this card I didn’t use it further, as by then I could just use my bank debit card.

The bank I went with, ABN-AMRO, had a small branch on ‘The Strip’ at the HTC so its was very easy to walk in and book an appointment. They were very friendly and informative in this office and are used to setting up accounts for international employees. You’ll need your NL address and passport but can still book an appointment before you’ve received your BSN and then update them once you have one. All banks in NL do require a small payment a month for their service but as an employee of Philips at the HTC this is discounted to only 70 cents with ABN-AMRO.

The details for activating the card will be sent in the post and are very simple to follow. I managed most of my banking and made transfers using the ABN-AMRO app and ABN-AMRO card reader (provided in post), as setting up online banking involved requesting another card. You’ll probably be offered insurance from the bank to cover any damages caused by you (e.g. you crash your bike into a parked car) which costs about 7 euros extra a month. It’s up to you whether you want to get this, none of us did in our year as we believed it was covered in the uni erasmus insurance, but it is worth checking this again – although though we all had our individual tumbles on the bike, there were no damaging or dangerous incidents to others.

Additionally, this bank allows free withdrawals in many European countries (excluding Germany) which was great for the traveling I did. Over the 5 months I did have to transfer over some more money from my British account, in addition to my income from Philip, however I did travel nearly every weekend which all adds up. To help avoid this, I paid in pounds where possible online using my U.K account, where no extra charges were involved e.g. my Disneyland Paris ticket.

As mentioned earlier, before I went out I also got a Post Office Travel card but I hardly used it as I had the Dutch account, but it’s something you may already have and can benefit from. Other sites you might want to check for transferring money are;

Finally, make sure you inform your bank that you’ll be abroad so they know not to cancel it if you ever do use it!

If you need a GP

Looking after yourself and having fun

If you need a GP

I had to visit the doctors whilst I was out in The Netherlands but fortunately a company in Eindhoven called SGE international focused on providing a health care service for international citizens of the country. This was a great service with the receptionists, GPs and pharmacists all speaking English.

Additionally, booking appointments was really easy and I was seen very quickly, also prescriptions could be picked up by someone in your place and in my case were re-newed without needing to see the GP again. They are only open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays but you could also consult the GP with a phone appointment, which I did one lunch time.

Health insurance is compulsory for taxpayers in The Netherlands and as I did not have this I initially had to pay for all my appointments and prescriptions. However, I could claim this back using my EU health insurance once back in The U.K, with the bills and proof of payment.

Avoiding International Phone Bills!

As you’ll be abroad for 5 months you may want to consider getting a dutch SIM card for cheaper data usage and texting others who changed their SIM. Although I didn’t do this, I asked my mates which companies they went with and their advice:

  • Lebara: “Had the cheapest data”
  • Vodafone: “Had the best customer service and worked in the rest of the EU”
  • Vectone: “Was good because it had a bit of everything in it. In this package I got 500 international minutes which was really valuable to me as I called the UK often”

    “However, they were quite tricky to figure out sometimes and if you had a problem you had to wait a while on the phone to get it fixed”

Of course the deals may have changed by the time of your visit!
(p.s. Thanks friends)

Also a suggested link for a cheap and fast way to unlock an EE phone: DoctorSim
“May be cheaper for other mobile phone providers.”

Alternatively, a few of us signed up to international deals offered with our mobile contracts, and kept our british SIM. For example, my friend got a certain about of international minutes and data with Tesco Mobile. I already had free EU calls with EE extra but paid a discounted amount for a daily allowance of data, only charged on the days when I switched data on.

Obviously, no deal will be perfect but you’ll probably find data useful for days out when you want to find your way around a new city (some paper maps are expensive!). I’d also suggest pre-downloading some areas on ‘Google Maps’ and ‘Tripadvisor’ to save you some money and hassle.

Alas there is one benefit though, most of the city centre in Eindhoven has WiFi; mainly through eduroam or a restaurant connection.