Autumn has just started in the Netherlands, be prepared! Especially when you’re an exchange student from the more Southern parts of Europe, it’s probably getting a bit chilly for you already. It’s raining every day when you cycle to class, and your professor is getting a bit more grumpy in the morning. If you’re commuting from further away you’re getting to know our perfect railway system; run by a cooperation between two partners. The first is team NS, that mostly uses their excuse: “if you compare us to other countries’ railway operators we are almost always on time. Except if you look at Japan, South-Korea or Germany, but that’s different”. The second party, Prorail, languishes in self-pity: “we can’t do anything about leaves on the rail, they’re just so slippery.” Instead of fixing problems together they mostly just blame each other all Autumn long. Unfortunately for you guys, who all came to this beautiful city, Utrecht Central station is the national hub of the Dutch railway network. Almost every train runs through it, and if something goes wrong in the nearby area, most of the power network has to be shut down. So even if there is nothing wrong with your train, it could be possible that it’s still delayed.
As you may have noticed I just spent the whole paragraph complaining about daily life miseries. That’s also Dutch culture. Get used to it, embrace it and participate. Complain ’till every other international student gets annoyed by you. That’s real Dutch integration, and it sometimes comes with a price. But stick to the weather and trains, otherwise you’re going to sound negative. Save your happy attitude for the start of the winter, because when the first frost prospects are starting to pop up in the weather report everybody expects you to be super enthusiastic about ice skating, making snow dolls and celebrating Sinterklaas.
Hang on this Autumn, take an extra hot chocolate and make sure you don’t get blown away!