As the Intro week is at its apex, it can be nice to remind to all of you who just arrived – and why not, also for you long time Utrechters or Utrechters-wannabe like who’s writing – why choosing this city as your destination was possibly the best life choice you could have asked. That’s not an overstatement: our beloved Ultraiectum ad Rhenum can really be the non-plus-ultra for at least five reasons.
1. Cozyness and cafes
You will get to overhear this word in your Dutch life: gezellig. It’s a pretty much indescribable adjective which shows simultaneously cosiness, comfort and ease. Well in Utrecht pretty much everything is gezellig from the parties to the people, and most of all, the cafes! You’ll find yourself spoiled for choice of where to go to have your coffee date, or even a mere coffee break from studying.
2. It’s a student life
Speaking of studying, this city is probably the perfect paradigm of a university town. More than one inhabitant out of four in this municipality is a student. The entire city pretty much developed, both socially and architectonically around its universities, and this gives it a perfect dimension in which you will be constantly surrounded by creative, fresh, cosmopolitan students from all around the Netherlands and the world.
Like the more celebrated capital (which anyway is just 20 minutes away by train whenever you feel like taking a look) Utrecht is a canals town. But unlike the capital, they have a more intimate setting here: other than encircling the binnenstad (the city centre) they cross it through without an apparent pattern. You will find yourself very often passing along them with your bike by night for the mere taste of enjoying the view and the pleasantness of a night ride without any tourist to ruin it!
4. Dutch soul
Now it is true what mentioned about the presence of foreign students, but let’s not forget that Utrecht is an intrinsically Dutch town, and probably she beats the capital also on this aspect. Amsterdam? Pff, the real soul of this country can be found along the Oudegracht, where you will hear people actually speaking Dutch. But if you are still working on your “graag gedaan” fear not, for they will all be more than able and eager to help you in English. Which finally brings us to my last point…
5. The Utrechters
For all the above mentioned reasons, the population which thrived in this agglomeration couldn’t turn out to be anything less than amazing. Although as seen it can be made up of several different components, from the – rare! – real Utrechters to the Dutchies who settled here from Groningen to Maastricht, or from Morocco till Indonesia, this is the real melting pot. No matter where are you from, wait for a sunny day and join it for a bbq in Wilhelminapark: you will know you are surrounded by the best people you could meet in your life.
By Claudio Agnesa