A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Ahh Holland, the land of managers. Statistics show that Dutch managers are the best in the world, and I have absolutely no reason to doubt it. They are friendly, precise, clinical, adjective, and final adjective. Just think how easy it was to get to Leiden university from your international climes, and think of all the managers that had to manage that process? From the upper echelons of the University management, to the middle managers of the admissions centre, to the managers of paper files and stamping machines. The financial managers making sure you paid your fees were no doubt particularly manageable on that day that they managed your euros. One could be forgiven for thinking that indeed, there is no job in Holland that doesn’t oversee the management of something. I guess I’m managing this blog… it seems contagious.
But there is surely no place better to see this management in action than at your local Dutch bank. The banks here are literally crawling with managers. I saw as many managers come and go through the swinging doors of my beloved RaboBank in the brief period I was there (being managed) as there is debt on my credit card. Men, women, possibly children too, all wonderfully arrayed in the cheapest business suits and cleanest teeth paint showered me with management questions on all sides. I was in veritable management heaven, with compound management interest.
The first thing International students should know about their banking situation in Leiden is that RaboBank is the closest and most convenient bank to a) the welcome centre (this is where you go to arrive) and b) the station (this is where you go to leave). It is also the premier bank of, you guessed it, Leiden University, which changed banks this time last year from ABN AMRO bank, another bank which is green and yellow and which I just can’t get excited about. Your best bet is to go to Rabo or ING… no, just trust me and go to Rabo and save yourself the hassle, everyone else is doing it, it’s blue and orange and basically Leiden’s cheapest business-hours party drug.
The nearest manager will hook you up with is something called a ‘students’ packet’. I stifled my applause at this name, for various reasons, but mainly the fact that it is just so Dutch to be literal. I thought ‘student account’, or maybe ‘an account for students’ may have been a better way of putting it, and yet then I thought ‘what if it’s a whole lot more than just an account?’ Only time would tell… So the manager then takes your address detail and tells you they’ll manage the posting of your bank card to your room (fancy, but a lie) and once the managers at the post office have sent their vehicle sub-managers to do this job, you’ll be ready and set to go! But most importantly and impressively, when you receive your ‘packet’ (think of a situation akin to a line-up-for-lunch-at-a-penitentiary) you’ll get the famous branded rabobank card-reader, truly a sight for sore eyes.
The rabobank card reader is much like any card reader you may have used. I had never used one before this, which may explain my credit card debt (I didn’t buy those diamonds in Nigeria OK?!), but in any case, any ridiculous chrome plastic electronic gadget that has buttons on it, adorned with blue and orange, is already my idea of Nirvana. Once your nerves have settled enough to take a proper look at it, you’ll think you’re holding a toy mobile phone for a 2 year old child. This is a point only emphasized by the fact that it is completely unusable for a rational-thinking, intuitively-minded adult citizen of Earth.
Unfortunately in this era of technology, however, it is the most infuriating things that are generally the things we need. You need your card reader to transfer money (to the university, to the housing office, to your friends for the vodka, all in reverse order) and you also need it to check the balance of your internet banking, which is unremittingly called ‘internet banking’. To log in to your internet banking, find the log-in page on the rabo website, fill in your card details. To get the log-in code, press ‘I’ for ‘inane’ and it will ask you for your PIN. Sift through the insane level of what you thought was useless documentation to find this (it also was managerially delivered in the mail) and once you’ve received the log-in code, you put that in on the website too! Well done, you’re in! …but the fun isn’t over yet! Although there is an IKEA style manual in your mountain of documentation, the hard truth is this: even though you’ve logged-in to a secure internet banking system with a card reader, the secure internet banking system doesn’t work unless you use your card reader to make transactions… Seems like the managers have been managing the shit out of this one…
To make a transfer then, go through all the steps under ‘nieuwe opdracht’ (senders, receivers etc.) on the website. You will have to send your transfer to an ‘outbox’, where it will sit forever until you ‘action’ it. When you go to ‘action’ it, a screen comes up with your beloved card-reader and once again you have to push your card into the top of the reader. This time press ‘S’ for ‘serzly?’, and then enter the dragon for the last herculean challenge. Step 1: Enter your PIN again, Step 2: Enter the number on your screen, Step 3: Enter the three digits of your transfer AMOUNT before the decimal point. The reader will not explain this, and the website is in Dutch. This is not intuitive at all, but you’ll understand me when you do it.
OK, so that’s it, I hope that was helpful and entertaining. I hope you are now fully funded and managed and that there should be no more stress or anxiety about using your toy-phone. Unfortunately, unlike most toy mobile phones, it does not come with candy, but I am in the process of writing to RaboBank to get this for the fall-semester intake. Happy financing my fellow managers all, and should you have any questions, queries, qualms, problems or nouns, do not hesitate to have them on my desk 9am Monday sharp.