‘Sometimes you have to go far to meet the greatest people.’

An exchange is both scary and excited at the same time. The safe environment is left for a new country, a new city and.. a place with new friends! During a stay abroad, an encounter is made with different people from many different places. People around you might not speak the same language, have the same habits or have dinner at the same hour, but that is what makes it interesting, right? Befriending an international student will not only give you a new (best) friend, but it will bring you many benefits and widen your horizon. So, why should you befriend an international student?

1. Practice your language skills
Most of us, can speak English, but maybe you do not feel confident enough in your English proficiency. By having an international friend, you can practice your English skills easily by just talking about day-to-day life. Or, you are aiming to learn a new language, but you have no one to practice with? An international student can be a great help! You can practice your Spanish skills with your new Spanish friend, so that you will be able to order more than dos cervezas next time you go to Spain. Or, maybe you want to practice a less common language? International students come from all over the world, so there will sure be somebody with which you can practice. And besides, this can be also done the other way around. It is quite fun to help the internationals learn some Dutch words, like gezellig, lekker or broodje kaas!

2. Get to know another culture
While visiting a country, you can get a slight taste of another culture. However, to really get to know another culture, you can also befriend someone from the country you are interested in. You will for sure discover some cultural aspects that will surprise you. Also, you will learn a lot from that person regarding the history, traditions or habits of their home country. So, the best way to explore another culture, might be to find somebody that is an expert in it. And that expert, will become your friend!

3. The experience
International students are mostly for a short time in the country. Therefore, they will get everything out of their experience abroad. Whether it is partying, visiting places or simply cooking, an international student will live every day like it is the last one. They are a great source of inspiration of living the best life. And also, it is nice to experience this life with them, right? Maybe you can show them some places they do not know about, and create long-lasting memories together!

4. You will have a friend for life
After a while, your new (best) friend will go back to their home country. Tears will be shed, hearts will be broken. It is devastating to see that someone you care so much about, will leave you behind. And the worst, you do not know when you will see each other again. All that is left, is you and the amazing memories you made. But wait, it is not that bad actually! Luckily, we live in the digital era, where you can still have contact with each other, even when there is a big distance between you. Also, you can go to the home country of your new friend, and visit him or her in their own environment, so they can show you what their city or country is all about. Or what about a meet up somewhere in a random country in a random place? Do not worry about your new friend being gone, because your friendship and bond will keep existing and might even grow stronger. And that, is the greatest benefit: having a friend for life.

So, what about you? Do you relate to the points of having international friends? Or, are you more inspired to go out there to find some more? Let us know your story!

After the first part of the hidden places in the small country, it is time for part II! Yes, the country is small, we know, but there are more places that are worth a visit. So, here is a collection of some other amazing hidden places that are worth a visit:

1. Pampus
We all know Alcatraz, but did you know that the Netherlands also has its own human made island, which is called Pampus. In 1880, the fort was created to be a defense against the possible sea attacks on the popular sea routes of the IJ-lake. It protected the entice to the IJ-Bay and the harbor of Amsterdam. It was part of the defence line of Amsterdam, and in 1996, UNESCO designated the defence line and its 42 forts as World Hertige. Currently, it is open for visitation or you can rent it for an event. Pampus can be visited from April to October and you have to take a ferry from Muiden or Amsterdam to reach the fort!


 

2. Paleis het Loo
Between 1684 and 1686, Paleis het Loo was build in Apeldoorn for Willem the Third and his wife Mary the Second of England. What makes the palace special, is that the interior is designed by Daniel Marot. He was a French architect, designer and engraver. You can see the French influence on the interior of the palace, as he adapted the French style on the Dutch interior, using unique and luxurious baroque expressions. Currently, the palace is a museum in which the visitor can enjoy the collection of historic objects, stables with carriages and oldtimers, but also the beautiful gardens that have the Dutch classicism style!



3. Giethoorn
Ah, the Venice of the cold North. Giethoorn was established as a settlement of peat harvesters. Due their harvesting, small little islands were created and the people decided to build houses on them. To connect the small islands with each other, over 170 small wooden bridges are made. Currently, the city still does not have any car roads and the only way of transporting is either to walk, cycle or boat! In this city, you can take your boat or kano to go to get your groceries or get coffee at your neighbors!



4. Keukenhof
Okay, not really a hidden place, but definitely worth a visit! Mostly, during March and May, Keukenhof opens its doors for you to visit the biggest flower garden of the world. In Keukenhof, you will find tulips and other flowers in all kinds of colors and heights. Every year, another theme is covered. Additionaly, there are many festivities around Keukenhof, like the flower parade or you can take a boat tour amongst the large tulip fields. Keukenhof is one of the highlights in the Netherlands and it is definitely worth a visit! Oh, and almost all our sections organize a trip to Keukenhof, so keep on eye on their calendars!

References

Picture Paleis het Loo taken by David Stanley
https://www.holland.com/global/tourism/destinations/provinces/overijssel/giethoorn-10.html
https://www.pampus.nl
https://www.paleishetloo.nl

 

The Netherlands will surprise you. Not only regarding the great Erasmus life, but also when it comes to architecture! Besides the traditional ‘Amsterdam Houses’, there are a lot of famous modern architecture works as well. You will find a wide variety of architecture in the whole country, and depending on the city, it is more traditional or modern. For this blog, we selected 5 Dutch architecture works that you could visit when you’re in the Netherlands.

1. Kinderdijkse Windmolens, Kinderdijk (English: Windmills of Kinderdijk)

When you think of the Netherlands, you think about tulips, cheese and… windmills! Who hasn’t heard of the famous windmills of Kinderdijk? If you haven’t, now you know. Windmills are typical Dutch buildings with a very unique architecture. They have been used mainly in the Middle Ages to generate power from the wind to, for example, grind cereals. In Kinderdijk, you can take a walk amongst these beautiful windmills.  And did you know that there are UNESCO heritage? So, grab a nice sunny sunday, and take a walk amongst this beautiful route!

2. Vleeshal, Haarlem (English: Meat Hall)

The Vleeshal in Haarlem is one of the architecture works from the Golden Age. The Golden Age took place in the 17th Century, when the Netherlands had a welfare economy. This reflects in the architecture they made in that period: use of expensive materials, attention to detail and a high status look and feel. The Vleeshal, former townhall, is a great example where you can meet with the wealth from old times. You can find the Vleeshal at the city square, in the heart of Haarlem,

3. Amsterdam Canals, Amsterdam

Amsterdam is famous about its canal houses. Most of them were built in the Golden Age (17th Century). They were built as warehouses, as the canals were ideal for transportation. The houses have also been used to live in. When you visit Amsterdam, make sure to take a walk past the canals and enjoy the stunning, Dutch architecture!

4. Kubuswoningen, Rotterdam (English: Cube Houses)

Very rare: the cube houses in Rotterdam have the shape of tilted cubes, placed on a pylon. And yes, really, people are living in these houses! The houses are designed by Piet Blom in 1977. The idea behind it is that each house represents a tree, and together they represent a forest. When you’re in Rotterdam, go to Blaak station. You won’t have a lot of trouble to find them there! It is possible to take a look inside: here you can find more information!

5. Central Station, The Hague

More into modern architecture? We’ve got you covered! You will find one of the latest Dutch architecture styles at Central Station, The Hague. The station was built in 2016 and it looks very Instagramable, if we may say so ourselves! Also a big plus: it’s a central station, so you can easily reach it by train and afterwards go to the city centre to explore The Hague a bit more!

So, which famous Dutch architectonic wonder are you going to visit first?

 

 

‘Mens sana in corpora sana.’

Being healthy does not only mean doing sports in order to feel fit. Health actually refers to a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. In the construct of physical health, the functions of the body works at its peak due the lack of disease, regular exercising, a balanced diet and enough rest. This will in effect reduce the risk of health issues. Mental health is harder to define. It depends on different abilities, like for example the achievement of balance, feelings safe and secure, but also the enjoyment of life. In short, health depends on several factors. In this blog post, we collected some tips for you, to enhance your health!

1. Exercise!
One of the most common practices for a healthier life, is to exercise regularly. Exercising provides protection against diseases, but also reduces the risk to heart attacks, strokes, obesity or depression. And it can be done in so many ways! You can either go to the gym, play soccer with your friends, go for a swim or take your bike down one of the many bicycle roads. The options are endless. And how much exercise you need? You need enough to meet your goals, whether if it is losing weight or feeling fitter, your goals are your goals.

2. Have a well-balanced diet
‘You are what you eat’. The food you eat and the drink you drink, affect your health as well. If you do not eat or drink well, you will probably not feel well. It is important to have a well-balanced diet and to eat a different variety of foods, to keep that body healthy. You do not need to make major changes to eat healthier, you can start changing your habits step by step. Some examples are to rather add healthy food choices to your diet, instead of cutting on the unhealthy foods, pack your meals at home to resits buying food outside and eat mindfully, which means relax and enjoy your meals instead of rushing!

3. Small random acts of kindness
You know how you do something small for a person, and they are incredibly thankful for this? This will also have a positive influence on your health, as you will automatically feel happier after doing something kind for someone else. These can be quick calls to someone your care, helping someone with carrying their groceries or giving up your seat in the train. There are many possibilities to give the world some love, and it will definitely light up your mood!

4. Get a good night of sleep
Having a well rested night, will enhance your health as well. It will give you more energy throughout the day, makes you feel less grumpy, but will also make you crave less to unhealthy food. As a student, it can be hard sometimes to get a good night of rest. You either have to study for exams, deadlines or you prefer to go out. And that is fine, but do not make a habit out of it, as sleep is important. To get a good night of sleep, you can try to follow a regular sleeping schedule, develop a bedtime routine and not use your computer of phone (this is hard, we know) one hour prior to sleeping.

5. Do what makes you happy!
You can follow all these tips to have a healthier life, but the most important tip, is to do what makes you happy. Whether it is walking around in the forest, hanging out with friend or practicing your hobby, make sure that your happiness and the things that make you happy are number one. With a happy mind and a happy life, a healthy life will follow!

So, what are your tips for staying healthy?

 

References

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/150999.php

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/how-much-exercise-do-you-need

https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/ad1169

https://www.psychologies.co.uk/body/10-tips-for-a-happier-healthier-life.html

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/good-nights-sleep

 

Let's be honest, the Dutch don’t really have what is known as a 'cuisine'. We don’t have pizza like the Italians, or currywurst like the Germans. But that's more than okay, because what we are known for, is being international and versatile. Wherever you're from in this world, there is most probably a place in the Netherlands that serves the dishes from home. Whether you're looking for your Belgian fries or tasty Argentinean steak, you should find it here. The Netherlands likes to experiment with different flavors and that guarantees that if you head to the big (but also small) cities, you will be overwhelmed with many delicious food choices. English breakfast? Sure. Sushi for lunch? Alright. Greek grill for dinner? Let's go! Make an adventure out of it and try finding a place that makes the food (almost) as good as home. Let us know in the comments if you've done so and where! 

So, the Netherlands really has no food that is typically from here? No matter how international we are, there are of course a couple meals and snacks that we Dutchies love to eat, and eat, and eat!

1. Poffertjes 

Tiny, fluffy pancakes? Yes please! Poffertjes are a popular snack amongst the Dutch, especially during the colder days. Easy to make if you have the right bake shape, and very good for a quick, fun meal with friends. Add some powder sugar or syrup and you're good to go. Want to make your own? That is also possible. Every supermarket sells either the mixture pack for those who are interested, but you can always try to make it from scratch. Just google the recipe, it's quite simple! 

2. Stampot & potatoes 

Can we truly say we're Dutch if we don’t L-O-V-E potatoes? Most of us are crazy about this starch and incorporate in as many meals as possible. Boiled potatoes, baked potatoes, fried potatoes, oven potatoes, and one of the best, stampot! Stampot, aka mashed potatoes, is one of the favored winter dishes amongst us. In many different forms and easy to make, it is a meal that ends up on the table frequently. Add some kale, some carrots, or peas, then drown it in gravy, and add a nice (vegan) sausage to the side, et voila! If you like to survive the cold winter days just like the Dutch do, this is the meal you should make! 

3. Dutch snackssss 

The chances of you walking past this spectacular thing and not having seen it, would be a rarity. We are talking of course about the "snack wall". The Dutch like their fried snacks, be it a kaassouffle, kroket, or frikadel, and they surely dont make it difficult to get your hands on them. Perfect for those who are craving something quick, there is this snack wall. Usually found in or around a snack bar, there is a wall that has these snacks ready to go. Just throw in the required amount of cash or even pay by card and the door to your picked snack will open. 

4. Fries galore 

We've already established that we Dutch can't get enough of our fried snacks and potatoes and therefore fries are no exception. One characteristic of eating fries on the go or at a snack bar is to lather it up with sauce. Mayonnaise is by far the most commonly ordered sauce for on fries. In Dutch, all we need to say is "frietje met”, in the Southern part of the country, or “patatje met” in other parts, which translates to "fries with", and they will hand you your fries covered in mayonnaise. But that's not the only option. There is ketchup, curry (not like Indian curry, but a more herbal ketchup), samurai, sage sauce, and onions. Something you could try is called "patatje oorlog" aka "war fries" which is a nice combination of peanut sauce and onions on your fries. Explore the options, as there are many! 

5. Stroopwafels & dropjes 

The cliche snacks people think of when they hear the Netherlands are stroopwafels and licorice. Even though the popularity drops for licorice, it's one of the main things you can find in the candy isle of your grocery store. They come salty or sweet and in many different flavors. Worth to try or gift it to your family members. The same goes for stroopwafels, which literally means syrup waffle. In this case the waffle syrup is solid inbetween two small thin waffles. Very tasty to dip in coffee or a hot chocolate or eat it by itself. 

6. Breaaaad. Every. Meal. Of. The. Day. 

Last but not least, were known to be eating bread for most of our daily meals. Both breakfast and lunch consists mostly of some sandwiches with butter and cheese, ham, peanut butter or chocolate paste. Real simple but easy to make and easy to eat. We have gotten many question marks from people who figure out we eat sandwiches all the time, but if you like a cheap but filling meal during the day, that's the way to go! #studenthack 

Tosti's are another big thing here, which is a warm version of our sandwich meal, where the cheese and ham melt together with the toasted bread. It is highly suggested to make your own or go and get some at a nice lunch place. 

Alright, all the stereotypes aside, it is safe to say that the Netherlands at first sight doesn't have anything new to offer other than your cuisines from home. But once you start digging, you'll realize theres a few quirky facts about what we like to eat, and we recommend you to try all of them yourself while being here abroad!

Eet smakelijk alvast!

 

Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Utrecht. These are all the typical, touristic places that you will most likely visit during your experience abroad or trip to the Netherlands. However, the country is small, but it has so much more to offer than these big cities. For example, there are smaller cities like Delft, Breda or Tilburg that are worth a visit. But wait. Wait, waaaaait! There is more! In this blog post, we will focus on the hidden places in the Netherlands, so that (when you have time) you can go to one of these spots and discover the true gems that the country holds.

 

1. Leeuwarden

 



Far up in the north, there is a little city called Leeuwarden. It is not really a hidden place in the Netherlands, as it is the capital of Friesland (one of the provinces), but it not as known as other cities. Therefore, a small piece about this lovely city. Leeuwarden is known for his history. In 1435, the city received its city rights. Due to its placing, which was right along the Middelzee river, Leeuwarden became an important trade center. Unfortunately, the river become clogged soon after and the trade dropped off. Also, at one point, Leeuwarden counted 130 (!) windmills. Nowadays, the Froskepolemolen windmill is the only one that is still completely structured and standing.

Leeuwarden is also focusing on the future. In 2018, it was the European Capital of Culture. During this period, many different cultural activities were organized by the local community. Examples were exhibitions of the Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher, a contest of the national sport of Friesland, which is called Fierljeppen (canal vault) or the explanation of the story of Mata Hari.

Leeuwarden has a lot to offer to its visitor. Whether you would like to visit a museum, like the Dutch Ceramic Museum or the Fries Natuurmuseum, learn about the history of the city or take a canal tour; Leeuwarden has it all. Oh, and did you know that one of our lovely sections is located in this city? ESN Leeuwarden would be more than happy to guide you around their hometown!

2. Pyramid of Austerlitz

 



A pyramid in the Netherlands? Impossible? No, there is actually one. The 36 meter high, in grass covered pyramid was built by the soldiers of Napoleon in 1804 and can be found close to Utrecht, in the Heuvelrug National Park. It was built to honor the victories of Napolean, but also because his soldiers were bored and he had to keep them busy with some tasks. Inspired by the pyramids of Giza, after 27 days of building, Mont Marmont was born. After a while, when Louis Bonaparte become monarch of the Kingdom of Holland, Mont Marmont was renamed to Pyramid of Austerlitz to honor the greatest victory of Napoleon, the battle of Austerlitz (1805).

Nowadays, visitors can climb the pyramid to have a stunning view over the flat country, visit a small exhibition about the French Period of the Netherlands, or walk and bike around in the park!

3. Saint Peter’s Caves

 



From the north, to the middle, to the south. In the southern part of the Netherlands, we can find the caves of Saint Peter, which are located near to Maastricht. About 1,000 years ago, miners started to excavate the mountain, as it is made of limestone, which can be used as building material. The excavation resulted in a 80 kilometers long tunnel that now can be visited with a tour guide. These tours will take you along the dome and the Gothic hallway of the caves and the guides will explain you everything about the history of them.

If you are not afraid of the dark, and do not mind the cold, the caves are definitely worth a visit!

This was the first part of Hidden Places in the Netherlands. Were you already familiar with them, or did you just discover the existence of these places? Are you planning to take the train to the capital of Friesland? Or are you more the daredevil type that will visit the caves of Saint Peter? Let us know!


References


Photo Saint Peter Caves: Marc van der Chijs

 

http://www.netherlands-tourism.com/leeuwarden/

https://www.groningenlife.nl/en/blogs/dilyana/leeuwarden-the-european-capital-of-culture-2018

https://heavenly-holland.com/pyramid-austerlitz/

https://www.holland.com/global/tourism/destinations/maastricht/caves-of-...

We see you, swooning over your textbook trying to cram the information in your brain while your friends are off partying and visiting beautiful places. An exchange can be extremely fun, but ultimately, you are also here to pass your semester. We know studying can be really tricky when there is so much else to do and see, but we have got some tips and tricks we do love to share with you that have helped us along the way.

1. You are not alone (I am here with you!).
Here in the Netherlands, pretty much all students have their exams and assignment deadlines around the same time, no matter the course. Keep in mind that after a few days or weeks with your head in the books, you and your friends can get back to partying, traveling, and all else you like to do in your free time. The key to staying motivated is to remind yourself that everyone else is going through the same, and they are (most of them) manging to do so, just like you!

2. Learn to rid yourself of distractions.
Nowadays, we are active 24/7. With our ever-buzzing phones in our pocket, we constantly satisfy our brains with new waves of dopamine. Distraction is like a drug; we are ever craving more and more. The constant sounds from your devices keep you distracted from that what you need to focus on, finishing that assignment or studying for that test. So, mute those notifications and let your friends' messages be the reward once you have finished. Another factor of distractions could be your environment. When you know that studying at home is going to result in you laying on your bed scrolling through Instagram, do not study at home! Get to the nearest library or cafe where other people are focussed on their own work to stay focussed. In case sitting in public spaces or studying together is not helping you focus on your work, head to an area where you can be alone, just you, your books, and laptop.

3. Get yourself a motivator and reward.
Sometimes all you need is someone giving you that extra push to get to work. Whether it is your friend, your boyfriend, your mom, having someone tell you to study and check up on your progress later is an incentive to get to work. You will realise that it will feel just like in high school when you had to finish an assignment in a set amount of time during class. This encourages you to focus on your work to be able to show what you promised to your motivator. Next to that, if you have done what you promised your motivator and yourself, make sure to give yourself a reward after. Being focussed for a long period of time calls for some relaxation so get together with friends or order in, do whatever that gives you a satisfactory feeling besides the relief of your finished work of the day.

4. Plan it out and colour code.
When thinking of all the things mentioned above, it is important to know what you will be working on every day. A planner can really help with giving you an overview of that what needs to be done and before when. You know best how much you can do in a day so plan accordingly. If you know that you are usually a last-minute worker, then this is especially crucial for you to do. You can use colours or anything that highlights and separates your different tasks to stay more organized. We know all about having many different courses and therefore many different assignments. Writing all of them down and separating them will guarantee to give you a better sight of what you need to do. Your teachers will be proud. Now use all the other tips to actually get it done!

5. Find a method that works best for you.
There are many tips & tricks for studying, staying concentrated, and so on, but it is eventually up to you to figure out what works and what does not. Try writing out summaries by hand instead of on a computer or vice versa. Try study cards or make a memory game out of your material. Making something creative out of your studying or concentration game will allow you to figure out what helps you reach your goal!

We wish you very good luck with the exam period, try not to get too distracted! Afterwards we hope you will get to cheers to good grades you worked so hard for! #GetToStudying #ErasmusStudy

Let it rain, let it rain! Welcome to fall; a period of many clouds, much rain, yellow and orange leaves, and a crazy amount of hot drinks. At plenty of places on earth fall is known for those particular traits, but in the Netherlands it is mostly characterised by the rain. You will see many people switch to taking their cars to work, but the majority of students will still hop on their bicycles, even when weather is bad (but hey, do we have another choice?). And how to survive this rainy and grey period in this small country? Well, we have got the perfect survival guide just for you!

1. Behold, your armor for the wet and cold; the rainsuit.

A rainsuit might make you feel a bit clumsy and it is not the most stylish piece of clothing, but it will save you from sitting completely soaked in class the whole day. Brands such as H&M and Zara tend to include more rubber in their fall collections, attempting to make the raincoat or suit a bit more fashionable. But, at the end of the day, no one will be paying attention to what you are wearing in this type of weather, so a simple Hema raincoat or online poncho will suffice. 

2. Cozy up!

As the weather gets wet and cold, it calls to get cozy. Get together with your friends indoors, whether that be at a restaurant, cafe, or home. There is nothing better than being in a warm environment, while it is pouring outside. Grab a movie, or some drinks, and enjoy each others company. During fall, many indoor areas such as the cinema and cafes will have special deals, many for students. And even though were not specifically known for a hot drink, there will be plenty of places where you can grab the popular pumpkin spice latte or cappuccino to warm up. Sounds quite 'gezellig', not?

3. Taste the season. 

When it comes to fall food, the Dutch whip out one of their favorites; stampot, which literally means "a mashed dish". If you are unfamiliar with the preparation and prefer not to try making it alone, grab one of your Dutchies and make it together. This dish can be very versatile. Usually the main ingredient is mashed potatoes and that can be combined with anything else. Carrots, kale, cauliflower, you name it. After mixing it all together, you can add some milk, cheese, and a sausage, and voila, you have got your own Stampot. During the colder times in the Netherlands, such as fall and winter, this tasty dish gets made pretty frequently. Beware, that it is known as a home-made dish, so ordering it at a restuarant would be a rarity. And what better sounds better than cozying up with your friends and making some stampot?

4. Head out.

If you enjoy being outside, this could be an interesting paragraph for you. As the days become shorter, and the layers of clothes become more, there are just a few people who like to head out during those days. We know how comfortable it is, to sit on your couch with a nice cup of tea, but we most certainly advice you to also go explore the country. Many cities turn into a beautiful, lit up place where you can roam around and take mesmerizing pictures. Keep an eye on Tripadvisor for the best fall recommendations when heading out. Maybe you can try some Bossche Bollen in Den Bosch, or some hot chocolate in a fancy cafe in Amsterdam. Or even go to one of the many forests that it has to offer. Believe us, it is worth the adventure!

Whatever you will like to do in the fall, we advice you to enjoy the weather (and the rain!) and the colourful environment here in the Netherlands. Fijne herfst!

 

Many of you have already gotten a taste of what the Netherlands is; wet, small, cozy, our shops close at 6PM, there are many cows, and we eat sandwiches for lunch. These characteristics are the ones you see when you scratch just the surface. But even though the Netherlands might be small, it has much to offer, especially for an Erasmus/international students like you! 

Let’s start with a little bit of history. The Netherlands technically means ‘lower lands’ as about 26% of our country is below sea level (PBL, n.d.). We have been battling the seas for years, which ultimately also made us great seafaring people. Many know that we have got a rich history when it comes to sailing across the seas. Other than battling the water, the Netherlands today is much different than the Netherlands from ages ago. Our small western European country has become immensely popular amongst foreign people. Many like to travel our cities and go and watch the Northern sea. 

But not only travellers come seek our country. Over the last few years, the amount of international students coming to the Netherlands for their exchange, masters, or full bachelor degree has immensely increased. In 2018, we had about 90.000 international students studying here country wide according to Nuffic (2019). This guarantees that you will never go through your experience of living abroad alone! The Netherlands has always been very diverse when it comes to cultures, but the many international students like yourself only make our country more fruitful. In an ever-globalizing world, the Netherlands is one of the top runners when it comes to international education (Expatica, 2019). Other than internationally recognized degrees, many English taught courses, and innovative teaching methods, this is the place to be, so you chose right! 

Now let’s dive into some of the more interesting facts about your new home. As mentioned before, the size of a country does not equal how interesting it is. The Netherlands has some pretty quirky facts if you pay attention. 

1. We have the tallest people in the world. 

You have probably already met twenty of them during your stay, the Dutch giants. Statistics show that the Netherlands has the tallest people, both men and women, in the world. According to Smith (2017), the average is roughly 1,84 for men and 1,70 for women. Some dare say it is to keep our heads above water and others say it is due to all the dairy we consume. Even though some of them might be a bit taller than you, we can confirm that even though they can be very straightforward and blunt, the Dutch are very friendly.

2. We consume the most liquorice in the world.

Next to our famous stroopwafels, the Dutch are all about what we call ‘drop’. Yearly we consume about 30 million kilos (!). Liquorice comes in many different varieties and not every single one’s loved by everyone. If you have not tasted this sweet or sour candy yet, we suggest trying it, and do not give up on the first one, there might be a flavour in there that you like. 

3. We were the first to legalize same-sex marriage. 

In April 2001, The Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. The Netherlands has a generally tolerant attitude to LGBTQI+ people. During regular times, you will not notice anything extravagant organized but around times such as the pride month, the Netherlands changes its colours to those of a rainbow. Here, everyone gets to be who they want to be. 

4. There are more bicycles than people here. 

You are either dreading or loving it that you most definitely need to buy and ride a bike here on your study abroad. For the Dutch, bikes are from cradle to grave. We start at a very young age and during life upgrade to a few bigger or more modern versions, but bikes are a must. It is the most used form of transportation for people of all ages. Do not be afraid to head out by bike, but do make sure that you know the traffic rules. As bikes are so immensely popular amongst our people, there are certain rules specially for cyclists such as not being on your phone when cycling!

5. The Netherlands has 18 ESN sections.

If you are an Erasmus student, you surely have heard of ESN, Erasmus Student Network. This organization helps Erasmus, and International students in their new home country by organizing different activities and help them where needed. With the help of all volunteers, ESN makes the experience of these students, unforgettable. And did you know that ESN The Netherlands consist of 18 lovely sections. Here they come:
ESN BredaESN DelftESN GroningenESN INHolland DiemenESN INHolland HaarlemESN Inholland RotterdamESN LeeuwardenESN NijmegenESN RotterdamESN The HagueESN TwenteESN UtrechtESN VU AmsterdamESN WageningenISN AmsterdamISN LeidenISN Maastricht and I*ESN Tilburg!


We wish you a very great stay here in our small country and encourage you to seek out many more quirky facts that make the Netherlands as interesting as it is. Go explore, head to the North, head to the sea, taste the food, and meet the people. Explore as much as you can and let us know through our channels what you have encountered! 

References:
Business photo created by Kireyonok_Yuliya
Expatica. (2019, August 20). Study in the Netherlands: A guide to Dutch universities - Expat Guide to The Netherlands | Expatica. Retrieved from https://www.expatica.com/nl/education/higher-education/study-in-the-netherlands-a-guide-to-dutch-universities-104928/
Nuffic. (2019, March 29). Nuffic publiceert nieuwe cijfers internationale studenten. Retrieved from https://www.nuffic.nl/actueel/nuffic-publiceert-nieuwe-cijfers-internationale-studenten/
PBL. (n.d.). Correctie formulering over overstromingsrisico Nederland in IPCC-rapport - PBL Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving. Retrieved from https://www.pbl.nl/dossiers/klimaatverandering/content/correctie-formulering-over-overstromomgsrisico
Smith, O. (2017, August 6). Mapped: The world’s tallest (and shortest) countries [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/maps-and-graphics/the-tallest-and-shortest-countries-in-the-world/