VU is a free university in many ways. Professors are quite open, you can discuss with them any matter and be sure that they’ll help you. At the university itself is quite an open environment (although some doors are closed and not for students’ access, like departments where professors are based). You will get to be in an international environment, there are many students from different countries. There are some weird moments due to bureaucracy at the university, but it’s all solvable. And it is free in a matter of research: you can study whatever you want and be sure that you will find a professor who will support your ambitions.
To my opinion, it is better to stay at the student campus at Uilenstede (provided by Duwo): it’s a lovely area, close to the university (7 min by bike) and to the Amsterdamse Bos (aka forest) with lakes and bike roads, and it takes 25-30 min by bike and 20-25 by tram/metro to get to the center of Amsterdam. However, if you don’t get a room there, there are also housings available at the North-West are of Amsterdam. I’ve stayed at Uilenstede and never regretted it even once! You’ll get to live with people from all over the world, there are gym, cinema, supermarkets and cafes in the walking distance, and you can choose whether you want to live alone in a studio apartment, share an flat with another girl, or share a flat with 12 or 14 people, up to you.
You should definitely get a bike (but be cautious and check the tires when buying) and a rain jacket as you arrive (or bring jacket with you) – these are the essentials to survive in Amsterdam 😀