So I only have until 23rd January in The Netherlands, and with exams and other trips, I think I will have to choose between Rotterdam or Maastricht! Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated, for those who have been to both cities, or even one of the cities.I think it would also be a crime not to visit the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam before I leave too. I believe I have done pretty well in the time I have had so far in the country, especially seeing as though I am meant to be studying too. Also, I have visited Germany & will have visited Belgium in that time. Hard to believe its all coming to an end in The Netherlands 😥
So I have now been in the Netherlands for 15 weeks and counting, so naturally I have had the opportunity to explore what the country has to offer. It has also made me think about Nijmegen as a representation of a ‘Dutch City’, and I have come to the conclusion that it’s not your average Joe (so the Americans say).
I started to think about this when I traveled to Leiden at the weekend to see one of my friends from my university in Sheffield. I felt like I had lost the excitement I had for living in the Netherlands- however it only took one trip to get rid of this feeling. I was taken away with how beautiful Leiden was- this may be because the sun decided to show its face at last! Nevertheless, it was characterised by many typical Dutch traits, which one often associates with a city in the Netherlands. Take, for example, the horizon long view of the cannel, which stretches across streets and streets. You see this when you go to Amsterdam, or Utrecht– but in Nijmegen this doesn’t exist in the same way. This is also the image which every tourist coming to the Netherlands for a holiday has. Leiden itself is in close proximity to Amsterdam, and Den Haag is only about 15 minutes away by the train. I really liked Den Haag– being the main city for Business and Government matters; you truly felt that you were in a city like London or Berlin. The shopping, a top priority of mine, was perfect in terms of a Dutch perspective- since nothing could every compare to my beloved UK high street. Therefore, if you get bored in Leiden, the other big cities are very close- by. This fact made me a little bit jealous to be honest.
Comparing this to Nijmegen, I personally don’t think it reflects the true ‘Dutchness’ of the country. As a location it’s great if you want to be close to Germany seeing as its very close to the border. However, although the transport links are second to none, it is still the other end of the country to the bigger and more ‘bustling’ cities such as Amsterdam and Den Haag. This does not mean that I don’t like being in Nijmegen, it is just something I have noticed since being here. It is only natural to compare each city your visit to the one which you live in. I think Nijmegen is great as a student city, seeing as the university here is meant to be one of the best in the country and in Europe. Plus, you are surrounded by other students which is always a good thing! Also, there are also many international students at the university which means I don’t ever feel out of place. So I guess you could say I have a love- hate relationship with Nijmegen!
This leads me on to 10 things which I have learnt about my time in the Netherlands so far:
- If you see a cash point, even if you don’t need money, I would advise you to withdraw some. This is because trying to find a cash point in the Netherlands, well in Nijmegen, is like trying to find a needle in a hay-stack.
- Make sure you have enough food in the house for Sunday, because if you have a hangover- there is no possibility to buy anything to cure it, unless you wait until 4pm.
- The Netherlands fails to understand that you might want only one potato, not 30.
- The cashiers scan the food items faster than your eyes can blink; leaving you wishing you had some kind of super power to pack your bags.
- They do not see the importance of Starbucks.
- Some Dutch manners are definitely borderline illegal in the UK.
- The Dutch do not know how to place a light in the middle of the room- well this is the case in my student complex, and makes me feel like I am living in the dark ages as soon as it gets dark.
- The public in the Netherlands like to stare a lot when you compare it to other countries. For example, the moment I stepped in to Germany I felt like I was invisible- (I’m not being paranoid, other people have noticed this too.)
- Dutch people also find it hard how to say my name correctly (curse of the Irish spelling continues to haunt me).
- Last but not least, is to make sure you persist in your attempt to speak Dutch. It may be frustrating at times- but you really have to go the extra mile if you want to speak it!
I think that is it for this week. I have another fun weekend planned, involving a trip to Den Bosch with one of my Dutch class friends, and may even go out on Saturday. I haven’t properly been out for a while- so it’s on the cards 🙂 it is also only a week and a half until my weekend in Belgium!
This leads on to one final note, and that is: make the most of travelling and exploring other places whilst you are abroad. For me it has been the most valuable part of being in another country and has made it possible to be able to explore the culture. Before I know it the YA will all be over and I will be back home doing all the serious final year stuff! But it’s not over just yet and there are plenty more fun and no doubt stressful things to come.