First date? These are the most perfect places to go for a drink

Aahh Utrecht, the city of love! Well, not really actually. But when you’re here for a while and you’re single… then it’s not that strange if you have a date once in a while. First dates are always a bit awkward in some sort of way. You’ve never met or maybe you did once and you don’t really know each other (through texting perhaps, but that’s not ‘the real deal’ of course). Maybe he or she picks his nose, has a really loud voice or – worst case scenario – doesn’t know where to go! Don’t worry, you got that one covered by using our tips for the best places to go on a first date.

First date: these are the best places to go to

To avoid not knowing where you two should go in this city, we selected the best places to go to on your first date:

Lebowksi

Lebowski is the perfect setting for your first date. It’s always ‘gezellig’, the lightening is flattering and the music is great!

Grand Cafe Lebowski, Domplein 17.

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Stan & Co

This industrial looking restaurant and cafe is the best place to go for a drink! Take a seat and enjoy one (or more) of their very tasty wines while having a conversation with your maybe future lover.

Stan & Co, Ganzenmarkt 16A.

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Lewis Book Cafe

This (a bit hidden) cafe has it all: books, coffee and some crazy extravagant milkshakes! If you both crave sugar and cosiness, this is the place to be.

Lewis Book Cafe, Achter Clarenburg 39.

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Klein Berlijn

What is a better setting for a first date than a trendy looking cafe with a laid-back atmosphere? Our German neighbors know very well how to create the perfect place for you and your date in the urban-cool Berlin style.

Klein Berlijn, Helling 22.

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Luc

If you really dig the cosy-living-room kind of style – including a lot of plants – Luc is the place where you should go. Grap dinner or have a drink (don’t forget to order the amazing bar food!).

Luc Utrecht, Voor Clarenburg 8.

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Hofman

Hofman is a cosy cafe where you can enjoy a special beer or a tasty glass of wine. And did you know you receive a 15% discount on all your drinks with your ESN card? Win-win, I would say.

Cafe Hofman, Janskerkhof 17A.

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VinVin

Are you both wine lovers? Enjoy a mini wine tasting at this cute little wine bar. Just tell the waiter/waitress what you like and they will serve you the perfect wine.

Wijnbar VinVin Utrecht, Predikherenstraat 19.

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Walden

Walden is the perfect place for a first date – this cafe has a relaxed environment, a great (and cheap!) menu and a view at the Dom! Plus: your ESN card gets you 20% off any drink you order.

Bar Walden, Domplein 16.

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10 Dutch sayings that don’t mean anything to you, but help you impress your Dutch friends!

Gezegde engels nederlands

Whenever you’re in a new country, it is nice to fit in with the locals. We the Dutch appreciate any effort internationals make when internationals they try to fit in. But sometimes that can be hard and you don’t know where to begin. Don’t worry! I am here to help!

The Dutch have a love/hate relationship when it comes to our own language. The grammar is a pain in the ass.  But there are certain elements we love! For instance: our sayings! Sometimes it feels just amazing when you can add a nice little saying within a conversation to emphasise, exaggerate, or just say it for the fun of it.

Now we know our language is hard. I struggle daily with some sentences, but I can’t imagine how weird and hard it must be to learn them as a foreigner. Well…We can’t make it less hard, but we can make it weirder! In this article I will translate 10 Dutch sayings in English and explain what they mean. Now keep in mind that this won’t make any sense to you, I am translating them word for word as we say it in Dutch. But if you can remember them and you tell them to a Dutchie. He or she will absolutely love you!

Here we go!

  1. “Not normal. What a Closet of a house!!”

(Out of the ordinary. What a huge house!)

  1. “Make that the cat wise!”

(I don’t believe you. Try and convince the cat!”)

  1. Congratulations, but don’t walk beside your shoes!”

(Good job, but don’t feel better then you are!”

  1. He had there clean enough from. So he gave him the wind from the front.”

(He was sick and tired, so he yelled at him)

  1. “Unfortunately peanutbutter, dude!”

(Too bad for you, dude)

  1. “Now the monkey comes out of the sleeve!”

(Now the secret has come out!”)

  1. “He laughs like a farmer with toothpain.”

(He laughs, but he is not amused at all.”)

  1. “I’ll drink you under the table!”

(I will outdrink you till you’re under the table)

  1. “Now we have the dolls on the dancing!”

(Now we are in big trouble!”)

  1. “It walks out of the claws”

(It’s getting out of hands)

Here you go! Try and memorize these gems of sayings and you will impress every Dutchie with your insane cultural knowledge!

*If you want to learn more dutch sayings, follow “Make that the cat wise” on facebook!

New Year’s Eve in Utrecht!

It’s definitely holiday time now! Most students have at least two weeks off, we’ve been hearing Christmas songs on the radio for weeks and we even had some snow! While Christmas and New Year’s Eve are coming closer, some internationals are traveling back home to celebrate these days with their families. But for those who decided to spend the Christmas break here in Utrecht, we’ll make sure you won’t be bored. We already wrote about what to do during Christmas in Utrecht and now we’ll make sure you know where to party on New Year’s Eve!

Vliegend het nieuwe jaar in!
In Bar Walden you can ‘catch a flight to 2018’. The dancing starts at 23:00 and won’t end before early in the first morning of 2018. The entrance fee is €12,50, which is not expensive for a Dutch NYE party. In addition, you can win prizes with your ‘boarding pass’.

Huisfeest NYE
Another place to celebrate the start of 2018 is the Poema. You probably know this place from the many ESN Student Nights you’ve spent there already, but it’s also famous because of the themed Huisfeesten. Huisfeest is Dutch for ‘house party’ and it’s named like this because you don’t have to pay for every drink separately. Just pay for your ticket and you can drink beer, wine and soda without searching your pockets for change the whole night. The theme of this year’s party is ‘Masquerade ball’ so make sure you’ll wear your finest mask!

House parties
Speaking of ‘house parties’, you don’t have to celebrate New Year’s Eve in a club or a bar if you don’t feel like it. In the Netherlands, a lot of people also like to throw (real) house parties to start the new year as festive as possible. It might be a bit different than a big party, but it’s much more cosy. So, contact that friend who’s throwing a house party on NYE, buy a bottle of sparkles, and celebrate!

TIKTAK NYE
TIKTAK NYE is an event that takes place in several cities. The Utrecht edition will be held in Central Studios, a very big party venue. The party starts at 22:00 and during the night, there will be several Dutch artists to entertain you. So if you can’t get enough from Dutch rappers like Broederliefde, you should definitely buy a ticket!

The best Christmas movies to watch on Netflix during the holidays

Yes! It’s almost time for the Christmas break, which means: enough time to relax and watch Netflix on a daily basis. I have to say, after all those deadlines and exams I can finally be in the mood for some holiday spirit. How about you? And there’s nothing better than a good (cheesy) Christmas movie to get in that mood. So we selected the best Christmas movies for you to watch on Netflix to get really excited for the upcoming festivities. Which one(s) are you going to watch?

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The best Christmas movies on Netflix

1. Christmas Inheritance

A socialite goes to the small town where her dad grew up in order to take over his company. She learns all about working hard to achieve goals and helping others. Isn’t that the Christmas spirit?

2. A Christmas Prince

This movie is as cheesy as you can get, but that’s a part of Christmas and we love it. A young and pretty journalist goes abroad to cover a story about a prince. Spoiler alert: they fall in love. And it gets complicated, of course.

3. The Night Before

Want to get rid of your bad habits? Then do it one more time to break off that habit. That’s what the guys in The Night Before must have thought. They want to have a wild party on Christmas Eve – for the last time. And it’s going to be epic.

4. Bad Santa

A drunk Santa? Why not? Two criminals find a way to make money in a shopping mall. They pretend to be Santa and his elf to ‘entertain’ the kids. After the mall closes, they take their chance and rob the place. Good news: there’s even a part 2, which is also on Netflix.

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5. Krampus

If you’re not in the mood for cheesy Christmas movies, go with this one. Krampus is the evil version of Santa and punishes kids who haven’t been nice. Sounds good to you? There are even two versions of this movie on Netflix, so enjoy!

6. A Wish for Christmas

The title of this movie says it all – and yes, it’s as cheesy as it sounds. Sara has only one wish this year: she wants to stand up for herself. (Surprise! You thought she wanted the love of her life, right?) Santa gives her 48 hours, and we assure you, a lot can happen in 48 hours.

Also in the mood for Christmas music? This is the ultimate playlist.

Recipe: comforting lentil soup

During these freezing cold winter times, you preferably want to eat warm, comforting and filling meals. This healthy, delicious and vegan (say what!) lentil soup is easy to make and consists out of  lots of pantry ingredients. A perfect winter meal that fits every student budget!

Ingredients (for 2 portions)

  • A bit of olive oil
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Gloves of garlic
  • 1 cube of stock
  • 6 tomatoes
  • 200 grams of red lentils
  • 200 ml of water
  • 1 can of Coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons of Kurkuma
  • 2 tablespoons of Chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  1. Cut the onion, garlic and tomatoes in small cubes
  2. Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the cutted onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is turning a bit transparent and then put in the tomato cubes.
  3. Add the kurkuma, chili powder and ground cumin. Let this together cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in the lentils, together with 200 ml of water and stock.
  5. Cook for 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape. Stir in a bit of coconut milk at the end.
  6. Now you can transfer the soup optionally into a blender, to mash all ingredients together.

You can serve this soup together with some Turkish bread (which you can buy in every supermarket around). Bon appétit!

The best study spots in Utrecht

During the holidays, studying is probably one of the last things you want to think of. Unfortunately, the upcoming Christmas break won’t last forever, and you have to go back to your books sometime. Besides the sad prospect of reading all day, you’re probably not looking forward to getting up early for a spot in the University Library. Especially during exam time, the library is packed with busy students. To make your hard study days a little easier, I made a list of alternative study spots. Hopefully, now you can sleep in a little bit before you start.

Café de Zaak
You can find Café de Zaak at the Korte Minrebroerstraat. If you’re someone who has to study in complete silence, this place won’t be perfect for you. However, if you don’t mind a little bit of background noise while you plough through your books, you should definitely check it out! What makes this café so great? You can eat your own food there! You don’t have to spend your money on way too expensive sandwiches to be allowed to stay there for a few hours. Maybe this is my Dutch state of mind, but I love this concept!

Openbare Bibliotheek Utrecht
If you prefer a more quiet environment the Openbare Bibliotheek (Public Library) might be a good spot for you. It’s not as popular as the University Library, which means there are more spots available. There is free WiFi and if you’re a member, you can use one of the library computers.

Het Gegeven Paard
Het Gegeven Paard is a café in TivoliVredenburg. It is a great place to meet up with some study buddies. The tables, especially the long one in the middle, are suitable for meetings. Especially, when you have to work on a group project. There are enough power sockets and the WiFi is free (and pretty fast). Also, it’s open until midnight or later, so you can stay and work for a long time.

Studyspot
As I said earlier, the University Library is often packed with students. However, there are a lot of other study spots in university buildings throughout the city. With ‘Studyspot’ you can check which places are free. In addition, it’s possible to rent a study room for you and your study buddies. Most rooms are available for four hours.

Time Space
At Vredenburg, you can find Time Space. What makes this place different from the other spots I mentioned, is that you have to book your study spot in advance. This way, you’ll be sure there is a place for you. Booking a spot for a day is €6. Are you wondering if that’s worth it? It sure is! In addition to the assured study spot, you can drink free tea and coffee the whole time!

5 tips to cure homesickness

Moving anywhere on your own is always daunting, especially if it’s your first time. If this is you, you probably have many unanswered questions. Can I live on microwave meals? Will I make friends in my new town? Will I survive on the roads between the cars and bleeping cyclists? The answer is yes! If you’ve just moved to Utrecht, you’ll soon find it is an amazing place to live, study and play. Just take a walk along the canals, check out international student nights at Club Poema or tuck into a fresh stroopwafel- you’ll see what I mean. But there’s a chance you won’t be immune to homesickness and you won’t be alone. Luckily, there are multiple ways to cure the home blues.

TIP #1- Make your place your own

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Now that you’ve arrived at your dorm, you’re probably wishing you were back in the comfort of your own home. Oh, how I miss not having to line up for the shower in the morning. Never take small luxuries for granted! Anyway, the good news is you can bring home to your new home. Hang photos, posters or art of your liking on your wall or anything reminding you that you are indeed still you, no matter where you live. Buy some cheap supermarket flowers to brighten your room, some candles of familiar scent and a bed cover that will make you jump on it after a long day. Make it YOUR space. After all, it is yours for a few months at least. Write yourself corny self-love letters and stick them on your mirror so you wake up to some lovin’ every morning (this sounds crazy but don’t diss it until you try it). Not only will this little enterprise keep you busy but by the end of it, you’ll have a nice slice of home in your new home.

TIP#2- Stay in touch

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There’s no denying it- we live in a tech world and in your case, that’s good news! You can keep in touch with your friends and family virtually for free. There are several apps you can download so you can make calls and send messages free of charge. Whatsapp, Viber, Skype and Messenger are most popular. Keeping in touch with everyone can be time consuming and tricky if you come from a far-flung place with a different zone, but luckily social media keeps people around the world connected 24/7. Tag your friends in memes, posts and old photos just as you did back home and keep the banter alive. When it comes to keeping in touch with family, nothing replaces a good old-fashioned phone call or facetime with your mum, dad, sister or brother. Hey, even your dog might get in on it! Whichever way you want to do it is up to you, but remember that consistency is key when keeping in touch.

TIP#3- Join local social clubs

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It sounds corny, but you’ll feel less homesick if you surround yourself with good, fun and interesting people. And there’s no better way to do that than by joining local social clubs. ESN (Erasmus Student Network Utrecht) is obviously the best in town! Call it what you want, shameless self-promotion or genuine advice, but ESN does hold various student open days, events, day trips and social gatherings for international students all year round. Signing up is free and super easy. If you came here for the real Dutch experience, then BuddyGoDutch is for you. At the beginning of each semester you will be matched with an international or Dutch student with similar interests and hobbies. Think of it as speed dating for friends without the awkward small talk about what you like to do in your spare time. Yarn! In no time, you’ll have a new friend to run amuck with and who knows where this friendship will take you! Your university probably also has several student committees and groups that are worth checking out.

TIP#4- Keep busy

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I’m not going to lie; the weather in Utrecht can be woeful. There will be days you’ll be tempted to hibernate and binge watch series on Netflix all day, and there’s nothing wrong in indulging in a little guilty pleasure. Shout out to fellow Games of Thrones fans! But there’s a fine line between enjoying some “me time” and avoiding reality. After all, you came here to live the Dutch experience and for that, you’ll need to actually go out of the house. If you have a day off, read a book at a café, go to a museum, take a walk by the canals or take a quick train to Amsterdam for the day. If you can afford it, go out to eat once a week even if it’s just you. There’s something therapeutic about enjoying a nice meal out and food always tastes better when someone else makes it. Whatever you do, don’t self loathe and keep busy, homesickness is always temporary.

TIP#5- Talk to someone

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You must think well duh?! But the best medicine for homesickness is simply to talk about it. Honesty is the best policy here- with yourself and others. If you’re at university, talk about it with other students in your class, at your social club, with your roommates. Most likely, you’ll find you are not alone and that many other international students miss home as much as you do. They also moved to Utrecht, they have family and friends back home just like you and just like you, they at times feel nostalgic. These are the commonalities people really bond over and in time, real friendships blossom. You’re probably wondering how will this cure homesickness? It won’t. But it will help you manage it, knowing that what you are feeling is utterly natural and that at the end of the day- we’re all on this crazy journey together!

By Megan

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