Things to do in Summer on a Student Budget
With summer coming up, obviously we students would like to spend some time to rejuvenate from our past year of hard work. If like me, you are stuck here in the Netherlands due to tickets back home being waaay out of your budget, you may be wondering just how you could kill time and not be bored out of your mind. Well, my past month of contemplation and research on things to do instead of fermenting in my room may serve you some good tips as well. Hopefully, I could help you a little more than some of those blogs with the same old boring tips.
Find a summer job
Yes, this isn’t exactly the ideal thing to do during your summer but this could help expand your student budget to accommodate more of the things you want to do. For me, this includes writing this blog although it isn’t exactly a “summer job”, but you get the gist, it helps with actually affording to do things. Plus, its still very enjoyable compared to sitting with your nose stuck on your reader preparing for an exam. Some summer jobs I heard of from my peers could include working in the market, pet sitting or maybe trying out being a barista at a cute café somewhere. Moreover, it’s also still a lot more enjoyable then your usual uni study routine, so maybe give it a go.
Explore the Netherlands
If you’re stuck here doing your thesis, this may also be an option. Get a weekend subscription on NS for a whole month of free travelling for about 35 euros (don’t quote me on this) and you could explore every corner of the country during the weekends. I mean, you might as well since you’re studying here and what better time to go than during the summer.
Volunteer at a festival
Being on a student budget means, well, that you can’t always afford to go to all the festivals the Netherlands and the surrounding countries have to offer you. There are a lot of these (I mean A LOT) and sadly I can’t go to most of these as tickets are usually in the 250 to 300 euro range and I need to pay rent. However, many students opt for volunteering at a festival. Doing so will get you free entry into the festival (and sometimes free tickets to other festivals the same organizer will host) and free goodies/merch in return of a couple of shifts pumping beer or checking bags or doing some other no-brainer job. (I personally haven’t done this but am planning to next year for BKS, hmu if you want to go too hehe.)
Travel to neighbouring countries
Ok, this will be a big section because I will be throwing all the tips I found so far on here.
Usually accommodation takes up quite a lot of the budget, even if you stay in a hostel or an Airbnb and split with friends. Thus, in this blog, I’ll only include options that are either free or cost next to nothing.
Staying at a friend’s place would probably be the best option for this. Wageningen has quite an international community and I’m sure your friends would love a visit from you during the summer. Not only do you get free accommodation but you’ll also have someone to hang out with and show you around.
Another option would be house sitting. Again, this could be for a friend who’s off adventuring to Southeast Asia or doing god knows what but otherwise you may also test your luck on sights such as Trusted Housesitters. You usually would have to stay for somewhat of a longer time (over a week or more) and feed their pets. However, these houses are usually niiiiiceeee. More than most fancy hotels could even offer you. However, you do have to subscribe to them for a small fee, though. But, again, this is nothing to what you’d have to pay for accommodation otherwise.
Last up is Couchsurfing. It’s pretty self explanatory, you stay on someone’s couch. Its a community where you’ll kind of “apply” to stay on someone’s couch/spare room/spare bed. If the potential host is interested in hosting you and has availability then you’re good to go. It’ll also provide a good experience from a local point of view and you’ll probably make some friends along the way. Obviously, you’ll be staying at a stranger’s place so your own discretion is required if you go with this option. I’ve heard some good and bad anecdotes from couch surfing so maybe use this as your last option if you’re desperate.
Getting to places
I hate Flixbus but yes, it’s quite cheap. This has been quite a popular option for students to travel as you could hop on one from Utrecht or Arnhem and go all the way to Paris or Berlin or whatever bucket list city you just have to visit at one point. You’ll probably have to sit there for quite a bit (like 7 hours or so, yikes) but hey, if you’re able to sit through it’s quite bearable and if you’re going with a friend, it really isn’t that bad. The longest one I’ve taken is probably one from Paris to Cologne with a transfer where I had to stand in the sun for an hour last summer. That I would not repeat, so do try to avoid going on routes with transfers. But overnight busses from Paris to Utrecht are really not that bad. Do try to use the restroom when the bus stops though, the ones in the busses are…not the best.
Blablacar is also an option. Personally, I prefer them a lot to Flixbus and they also tend to be cheaper and faster since there aren’t as many stops. The pickup/drop-off points are also usually a bit more flexible as you can discuss with the drivers. Furthermore, if you are quite sociable, Blablacar drivers do tend to be down for a chat. One of my favourite Blablacar rides was when I went to Groningen with a Romanian double-bass professor who teaches in RUG and was part of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra (he had quite an interesting life story, which I wouldn’t get into here). But point is, you never know what kind of characters you’ll meet through this.
But overall, the best option would probably be carpooling with someone you already know, since that’ll be more relaxed, obviously. Another option could be through the Wageningen Carpool Facebook group, although I never actually successfully gotten a ride from there.
If you do want to travel a bit further, though, you can find affordable flights through Skyscanner as long as you’re not too picky with your dates. Furthermore, Ryanair also has flights that are very affordable, especially if you have an ESN membership (you get free baggage). One of my friends visited me from London and she paid 8 GBP for it. 8!!! (Do note that this was a year ago, though).
Being a food tech student, of course I’d like to try the local cuisine as well if I travel. However, it might eat up your travel budget if you constantly eat out when travelling. Thus, if your accommodation offers it, try to cook most of your meals. However, if you don’t feel like it, don’t always opt for a sit-down restaurant. Find street eats and ask locals where they usually hang out for a casual meal.
Also, try find activities that you could do for free, or put your student card to use. Not to be cliché, but I’ll bring up Paris again. Almost all the museums are free if you’re a student so DO NOT PAY FOR THOSE TICKETS. Just book 2 days in advance and they’ll let you in with your residence permit. Otherwise, you could also just walk around and explore the city, if you’re into that. It’s also a way to skimp on public transport and you get to see more of what you would’ve missed otherwise.
And, bring your own water bottle. Please.