Anonymous of Holland            -A Dutchman in Korea-

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The reality of moving abroad


Things are getting pretty real these days, and I find myself struggling with all the possible red tape without even actually running into it yet.
Although forums and, surprisingly, the organization that’s going to pay for my studies in Korea make it seem like it’s no big deal, in real life it’s definitely not possible to just decide to go study in another country, hop on a plane and start your university life there.

The Netherlands, much like any other country, has all sorts of conventions in place to prevent just that.
My biggest concern was health insurance. I don’t have an especially healthy body, and considering my weak teeth and my need to take medicine daily due to my ADHD my health costs aren’t exactly low. So for me it’s really important that this area is taken care of even when I go abroad. The most interesting part of this delightful enterprise was that no one’s exactly sure if I’m obligated to keep a Dutch insurance even when I’m going abroad for 3 years. For all Dutch citizens health insurance is mandatory, and that only changes if you move abroad for more than 8 months. In that case, you have to remove yourself from the Basisregistratie Personen (Personal Records Database) since you’ll no longer be considered living in the Netherlands. However, to make things interesting there’s an exception to that rule: if you are under 30 years of age and are going abroad for the purpose of study, you are still forced to keep your insurance even if you’re no longer listed in the PRD. So I told my insurance company about this, and they told me that yes, I would still have to insure myself here in the Netherlands. However, because I would not be considered living in this country, all of my ‘additional coverage’ would be cancelled. Interestingly enough, one of those ‘additional’ things was coverage abroad. So basically what they were saying is that I should continue paying them while getting absolutely nothing in return, because any costs incurred abroad would not be covered by the ‘basic’ health insurance package.

Obviously I wasn’t too thrilled about that, so I looked for ways to get out of it. The thing is that as soon as you work abroad, even if it’s only a part-time job, during your studies, you don’t have a ‘right’ to be insured in the Netherlands anymore. But due to my KGSP scholarship I’m not allowed to work in the first year of my studies, so that one fell through. However, I noticed that internships with a monetary compensation of over €150 per month also count as ‘work’. But my scholarship isn’t an internship. So I spent a few hours trying to find out what the rules were concerning internships, but I was drawing a blank. There just wasn’t any information available on the subject. So I made a formal request to the Sociale Verzekerings Bank (the institution that takes care of mandatory insurances) to judge my case. Now I’m forced to wait a few weeks to hear back from them with the definitive verdict.

I’m not one for letting things get down to the last minute though, so a few days after that I called the SVB to ask my question to a representative to at least get some idea of what the decision might be. According to him, since my scholarship is so big it might be considered ‘income’, in which case I will not be forced to keep my insurance here. However he stressed that that was only his personal take on it and I should await the official decision.
That makes sense, of course, but I just wanted to get everything taken care of, so I decided to cover my bases. If the SVB decides I don’t have a ‘right’ to be insured in the Netherlands, I will cancel my insurance and look into insuring myself in Korea. But what would I do if they decide that my scholarship isn’t income and as such I have to keep my insurance here? Well, one perk of living in this country is that, if you don’t make a lot of money, the government will help you pay for your mandatory insurance. At this moment, since I don’t have a job, I receive €72 monthly to help pay for my insurance, which costs €129 per month. So I thought, well, if I’m forced to keep my insurance, maybe I can get it down to under €72 so I won’t have to pay for it. Of course to check that, I first had to check if I would actually be receiving that €72 if I’m living abroad. This time I had to check with the tax services. Compared to the SVB they were a delight to deal with and we (relatively) quickly came to the decision that yes, if I am forced to keep my insurance here then I will also be eligible to receive the €72 a month to help pay for it.

Glory hallelujah.
So the final step was looking for an insurance company with the lowest base cost for insurance. Since coverage wouldn’t extend to Korea anyway, I’m assuming I will never be able to use it, so I increased my ‘Own Risk’ (the costs you have to pay yourself before your insurance kicks in) from €360 per year to €760 per year and voila, I came out at €70,58 which means that if I am indeed forced to keep my insurance, I will be making €1,42 a month off of it.

So at this point, all I have to do is contact my Korean insurance agency and check out their policy. Of course it wouldn’t be fun if this was too easy either, so my University picked a company whose Korean website is not accessible without some weird software I don’t want to install and can only be reached by phone. To be continued.


Another ‘fun’ thing to take care of is the aforementioned Personal Records Database. If you’re leaving, you’ve got to unsubscribe from it. That in itself isn’t very hard (I hope) but considering I’m currently receiving social security it was made a lot harder. I’m still not exactly sure when I will take care of this, but I’ll try to do it as late as possible. Meanwhile though I can’t (and don’t want) to fool my case manager, so I have to tell her that I’m leaving soon which might mean my social security will be cancelled early. Oy vey.

Applying for my visa is also going to happen soon. I’ll have to apply for a D-4 Student Visa, and I’ll have to visit the Korean embassy in The Hague to do that. Not only is it going to cost a bunch of money (at least €100) but it also requires dealing with the frankly rude and lazy woman who takes care of that kind of stuff there. I had to call her over 4 times after she’d ignored my email for over a week to get into contact with her, and when I finally did she seemed content trying to speak as little as possible and giving helpful advice such as ‘Yes, you can apply for that’ when I asked her about some information about applying for a D-4 Visa.

Then of course there are vaccinations (not that difficult, but difficult on your wallet), medicine (how am I going to get a year’s supply of ritalin across the border?), banking, phone plans and taxes to take care of.


Moving abroad is probably just as fun as forums and the organization that’s paying for my studies say it is, but the weeks leading up to it sure aren’t.
If you’re planning on moving or studying abroad, don’t forget to take care of everything well in advance. It’ll save you lots of headaches.


9 comments on “The reality of moving abroad

  1. Kate
    28 June 2014

    “If you’re planning on moving or studying abroad, don’t forget to take care of everything well in advance.” That’s something I know so well and still it’s something that I am also very reluctant when it comes to actually doing it. :D But moving abroad is no joke and should definitely be, as you’ve pointed out, organized well, otherwise it’s going to cause needless stress and headaches.

    • Anon Of Holland
      29 June 2014

      If I wasn’t so lazy I’d be tempted to do a step-by-step guide for people planning to move to Korea or at least join the KGSP program, but I’m guessing there’s already people who’ve done it much better than I ever could. Hopefully this will at least serve as a bit of a warning because as I understood it from my University contacts in Korea people don’t really think about this sort of stuff until it’s already too late.

  2. roselaurijssen
    2 July 2014

    Despite all the arrangements you have to make, I hope you enjoy the Netherlands! Insurance wise, you’ll be okay. Those strict rules only apply if your a citizen and it’s always good to have a health insurance wherever you go. Best of luck! And say hi to the dom tower if you are visiting Utrecht :-)

    • Anon Of Holland
      2 July 2014

      Haha, Rose, ik denk dat je m’n post verkeerd begrepen hebt. Ik ben Nederlander, maar ga emigreren naar Korea.
      I do indeed enjoy it here though ;]

      • roselaurijssen
        2 July 2014

        O lachen! Ik las het even snel op het strand, helemaal verkeerd gelezen dus haha! Wat gaaf joh! Waarom Korea?? Heb je een Nederlandse verzekering voor daar? Wij zijn geëmigreerd naar Canada en ik gebruik Oomverzekeringen. Erg prettig en vrij goedkoop!

        • Anon Of Holland
          2 July 2014

          Nou, ik zit dus nog op het antwoord van de SVB te wachten om te weten of ik verplicht ben hier een verzekering aan te houden of niet. Ik ben via de universiteit verzekerd, maar in die verzekering zitten nogal wat gaten..dus mogelijk ga ik ook eens bij OOM kijken inderdaad als extra vangnet. Waarom heb jij gekozen toch in Nederland een verzekering te nemen en niet gewoon in Canada?

          As for waarom ik voor Korea heb gekozen..ik heb eerder 3 maanden vrijwilligerswerk gedaan daar, en dat beviel me zo dat ik nog 3 maanden extra ben gebleven. Ik was altijd al geïnteresseerd in Azië, en ik was het stiekem wel een beetje beu aan het worden in Nederland (het niet kunnen vinden van een baan op niveau had daar ook wel wat mee te maken) dus toen ik zag dat er een kans was om een studiebeurs te krijgen dacht ik ik probeer het maar gewoon.

          • roselaurijssen
            5 July 2014

            Dat klinkt heel goed!! Ik ben nog nooit in Korea geweest maar lijkt mij een heel mooi land met veel cultuur!
            Dat beu van Nederland snap ik wel. Het is een leuk land met mooie plekken maar ook veeel mensen. Ik verkies dan ook de natuur & rust boven de drukte :-).

            In Canada moet je het werkvisum een aantal maanden hebben voordat je een deel uit mag maken van hun zorgverzekering systeem. OOM covert eigenlijk al mijn zorgkosten dus je zal waarschijnlijk de andere op kunnen zeggen als je bij hun afsluit. Je kunt het helemaal zelf samenstellen, en de lichtste dekking is al prima geregeld.

            Wanneer ga je richting Korea? Augustus??

  3. Anon Of Holland
    8 July 2014

    De reply ruimte is geloof ik op, Rose, dus ik doe het even zo.
    Korea is inderdaad prachtig, maar als je op zoek bent naar natuur en rust zit je in de steden waar ik ga studeren ook niet echt goed =p In Seoul alleen al wonen bijna 10 miljoen mensen. Eerder ben ik daar op het platteland geweest though en dat was echt amazing. Dat soort uitzichten zul je hier in Nederland niet vinden.

    Ik heb me al wat ingelezen mbt OOM. Ziet er inderdaad super uit, zeker de studentenverzekering. Voor €50 per maand net zo goed verzekerd als ik nu ben voor €130. Ik zou haast hopen dat ik toch m’n basisverzekering aan moet houden.
    Hoe gaat dat met het declareren enzo? Veel moeite, of valt dat wel mee?

    Ik vertrek eind Augustus overigens, dus er is nog eventjes de tijd om wat te regelen gelukkig.

  4. Pingback: Things just keep getting realer! | Anonymous of Holland           -A Dutchman in Korea-


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