How to pronounce the Dutch ‘g’ sound?

Gouda? Gezellig? What is this strange sound that the Dutch use for their letter “g”? I have been intrigued by this for a while now, so I went to talk with Fonetics and Fonology professor Hugo Quéne to figure that out!

“So, first of all, us foneticians, when we talk about sound, we don’t use the alphabet letters, because, as you see, their meanings change across languages and cultures. We use a phonetic alphabet, and you can find the phonetic translation of words in a good dictionary”, explains Hugo. ”This sound also appears in other languages, like the German ‘achtung’, as ‘ch’, or the Hindi ‘khan’, where kh can also be pronounced like that.”

I was interested in learning how to produce the perfect “g” sound to impress all my friends! This is a step-by-step guide:

“So you have to start with the tongue on the top of your mouth, ready to say something that sounds like ‘k’. So for example, let’s start with ‘cow’. You lower the tongue just a little bit but you stay in the same position, and then you go from one sound to the desired ‘g’ sound.” Goed!

The ‘g’ sound in Dutch that we want can have two fonetic translations: /x/, called the voiceless velar fricative, and the /ɣ/, the voiced velar fricative . The what now? “It’s called a velar consonant because it occurs around the velum, towards the back of your mouth. Fricative means that it is created by the friction between the air and your mouth, you need air in turbulence while the sound is produced.” About the voiced and voiceless, the story gets more interesting. The difference between both sounds is that the voiceless is produced a little bit more to the back of the throat compared to the voiced, and the voiceless doesn’t use vocal cord vibration. “Nowadays, almost everyone in the Netherlands is using the voiceless version. For the older generation, there is a clear distinction about words that use the voiced and the voiceless, but it is really hard to say which are which, it is really getting lost. Only if you go the remote areas, like Friesland, you could actually find these differences. And even then, only with the old people.” There is a hint, though. “Long long ago, it used to be that ‘ch’ was the voiceless sound, and the ‘g’ was the voiced, but not anymore”.

Finally, he described a regional variance that is very easy to grasp. “There is an interesting regional variation between the parts that we call ‘north of the rivers’, traditionally protestant regions, and the southerner parts, predominantly roman catholic. The first one uses the ‘g’ that we have described, and that’s why you hear it in Utrecht. The second uses the ‘soft g sound’.” This softer version is called a front velar fricative and it can sometimes sound a little sibilating.

Now you are ready to go out and be a serious speaker Dutch, and also to tell where your friends come from in the Netherlands!


Story time

Once upon a time, the tribe was preparing for winter. The chief sent his people to the forest to get firewood. The men spent hours and hours collecting a good amount to survive the winter. When they arrived home, the chief sent a young boy to the wise man.

The wise man lived on the top of the hill, watching over the tribe. The wise man had great knowledge, and was a trusted adviser to the chief, when it came to leading his people. The young boy was ordered to ask the wise man how strong this winter is going to be. He did so, receiving the answer that this winter will indeed be cold. The boy forwarded the news to the chief, who ordered his people to go back to the forest, to bring more firewood.

The men did accordingly, again, collecting wood for hours and hours. They went back, and this time the chief wanted to be sure they were well prepared for the winter. The boy was sent to the wise man again. The wise man predicted this winter will be very cold. When the chief heard the news, he told every person in the village to go, to collect as much wood as possible.

After many hours, the people came back with carts full of wood, they did not even have enough space to store it. They filled all the tents, no space was left without firewood. For the last time, the chief sent the boy up the hill to ask, if they now have enough to survive the winter.

The boy climbed the hill, asked the wise man, who gave an answer to him for the third time, saying that this winter is going to be the coldest he has ever seen. The boy could not hold his curiosity any longer, eventually he asked the wise man, how he could tell this winter is going to be the coldest. The wise man abruptly pointed at the village:


“Look how much wood they collected, it needs to be the coldest winter I have ever seen”.

Based on who or what do you make your decisions?

Recipe: Traditional Dutch Pancakes

Have you already tried the Dutch pancake? This whole-pan size pancake is much thinner than the traditional American pancakes (but not as thin as the French crepes) and tastes amazing! You can use both sweet and savory toppings to make your Dutch pancakes even more delicious.

Buy the following cheap ingredients for the batter (2-3 persons):

  • 2 eggs
  • 500 ml milk
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 250 grams of flour
  • Butter, for cooking
  • Toppings of your choice

Examples of sweet fillings and toppings:

  • Apple, raisins, and cinnamon
  • Red fruits and mint

Examples of savory fillings and toppings:

  • Cheese, bacon, chorizo

Follow these 4 easy steps to make the perfect Dutch pancakes in only 30 min:

  1. Beat the egg in a large bowl until slightly foamy. Add the milk and salt and mix these ingredients all together. Slowly add the flour and mix again until the batter is smooth.
  2. Heat a 10-inch cooking pan over medium heat. Add a little butter to the pan.
  3. Add 0,5 cup of batter to the pan and swirl it around to coat the pan (now add any filling you like over the batter). Cook the pancake over medium for 3-4 min until it is just getting dry on the top and releases from the pan.
  4. Remove the pancake from the pan and place on a platter. Tip: Keep your pancake warm by placing them in a warm oven.

Welcome to Utrecht: highlights of the Intro Week

A new great semester is about to start, and ESN is there with you every step of the way. The new residents of the beautiful city of Utrecht had a chance to visit it with the help of more other students that already know all the secrets!

Introduction Day

On the introduction day, groups of brand new internationals had a day to explore the city with the guidance of the mentors. There was time to make the highest tower under the tower…

joco (2) intro day

… and to play some fancy pool!

joco (3) intro day

For the brave that still had energy after such an eventful day, the night was also full of excitement at Woolloomooloo!


Intro Week

After the introduction day, a more prolonged introduction to the student life in Utrecht was kickstarted. During the introduction week, smaller groups of internationals and their mentors took part in different activities organized exclusively for them!

Some groups did laser tag…

joco (4) day 2

… while others had the Cantus…

joco (2) day 2
During the Cantus
joco (3) day 2
After the Cantus

… with notorious before and after differences.

The following days had a healthy dose of bowling…
joco (2)

joco (3)

… and, because our internationals are extremely gifted, karaoke!

joco day4

In the name of the JoCo, I wish all of the new internationals in Utrecht a great experience abroad! We are here to help you make the most of your time here, sharing our tips and knowledge. We are also here to give you a voice, so if you think there is something that you would like us to talk about leave us a message in the comments!

Tips for Trips

Your Erasmus period is the best time to take a lot of fun trips. While I was on Erasmus myself (in Belfast), I did a lot of tours in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It’s the perfect opportunity to travel to places you wouldn’t visit otherwise. In this blogpost, I’ll share some tips I learned during the trips I took, so you can enjoy your own trips in and around the Netherlands!


  1. Make lists

This might sound like something your parents would say, but they don’t say it without a reason, so here it goes: make lists! Make a list of the places you want to visit, and another one with everything you want to bring with you. This really makes it easier to plan a trip and to make the journey go smoothly.


  1. Travel folder

A travel folder is perfect to store all your travel lists. In addition, you can put your boarding pass or hostel booking in there. I used to have one, and even though all my Erasmus friends made fun of me because of it, I found it really useful! You don’t have to empty your bag when you look for a important file anymore, because it’s right there in your folder.


  1. Don’t plan ahead too much

After my little story about the handiness of lists and folders, I think it’s also important to stress this point: don’t plan ahead too much! Of course it’s important to be prepared and to know where you’re going. It’s also smart to list a few tourist attractions you really want to see, but you should make sure you have some spare time too. While you’re ‘on location’, you’ll probably come across some really nice places you also want to pay some attention to. It would be a waste if you didn’t have time for that.


  1. Ask around

This is kind of an extension of the previous point. During your trip, you’ll not only come across surprise places you want to visit, but also people who can tell you what to visit. Locals can show you places other tourists might never see. So ask around and discover the best (and secret) places.


  1. Travel apps

In addition to this small list of tips, you can also download some handy travel apps for your smartphone. For example, an app to convert coin currencies or the Tripadvisor app to easily find the best restaurants or cafés in the city you’re visiting. Another good app is This is similar to the Google Maps app, but it’s easier to find things like restaurants and supermarkets.

Gym De Workout

Staying in shape as a student can be difficult. Most gym memberships are expensive and most of the time the weather in the Netherlands is too rainy to enjoy a run. Thankfully, we found you a gym with a student discount and a lot of possibilities to stay in shape: De Workout!

De Workout image 1

De Workout is a gym in downtown Utrecht. We talked to one of their long term members, Fee, who told us why she prefers De Workout over other gyms in Utrecht. Fee has been a member for three years and joined the gym after her friends told her about it.

There are several different ways to practice sport in De Workout. It is possible to join the group lessons, like BodyAttack (Fee’s favourite). Besides the standard group lessons, De Workout also organises sport events to break the routine once in a while. For instance, they organised a spinning marathon to raise money for charity.

If you rather work out at your own pace, you can make use of the cardio equipment or weights. Fee told us that she prefers De Workout over other gyms, because the employees pay a lot of individual attention to all their members. It is possible to work out with a trainer, who takes your personal goals into account. In addition, they are willing to make you a personal schedule for weight training.

Fee spent a semester abroad herself and experienced that it can be difficult to keep working out during an exchange period. Therefore, she recommends De Workout to all international students who would like to stay in shape. During her three years at De Workout, she came across a lot of internationals and she told us that the trainers and instructors are willing to help you out in English. In short, there are no excuses to not work out during your time in the Netherlands!

4 ways to impress your date on Valentine’s Day

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As we’re already in February (!) it’s time for a very special holiday!

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! The day where we celebrate love! And consumerism. But most importantly: LOVE!
I f*ck*ng love love. Even when I hate it. I am very much in love at the moment, and already cooking up some ideas what to do. Now, my girlfriend has explicitly told me she doesn’t want flowers or a barbershop quartet send to her workplace, so I have yet to decide what to do. But as we all know: Utrecht is the most romantic city in the entire world. Forget about Paris, Venice or the Cinque Terre, Utrecht is where it’s at. And there are plenty of things to do in Utrecht!

Now let’s get to business. Here are some romantic ideas to impress your date!

#1 Romance on the Dom tower

On Valentine’s day you can experience the most romantic tour of the year. Take your big, new or future lover to the Dom Tower and enjoy romance in the sky while drinking a glass of bubbles. You’ll hear the amazing stories about the Tower and the canals. Of course you will enjoy a spectacular view. See the canals in a way you have never seen them before and your date will be surely impressed by you!!

Tickets are 12,50 PP


#2 Ice skating

It’s nice to be active with your date. And one thing that’s fun to do is ice skating! Take your date to the Vechtsebanen in Utrecht and skate hand in hand! Or impress your date with an awesome pirouette like you saw on the winter Olympics!
If you have never ice skated you might come off as clumsy, but that is cute and absolutely endearing so don’t worry about it! It is nothing but fun and after the skate sesh you can stay at Vechtsebanen for a drink.


#3 Make a valentine’s dinner together

Sure, you can look up a recipe that is impressive but almost impossible to make. It doesn’t have to be that hard. You can take any easy recipe and make it as romantic as you want. For instance, a homemade lasagne is reeeally easy but delicious and fun to make. It’s perfectly fine just to get a lasagne mix from Bertolli, or make very easy but delicious spaghetti. The best thing to do is just get all the ingredients and make sure your kitchen is clean and romantic. Light some candles, put on a sexy song and bake that thing together. The good thing about cooking together is that it’s a perfect moment to already drink a couple of glasses of wine. That’ll take the edge of. And if you fail, you fail together you get that covered.

#4 Comedy night in Hofman

If you’re not particularly funny yourself, but you still want your date to laugh, take him or her to the comedy night in Café Hofman! Share some food, drinks and laughs and just enjoy the night. If the comedian is terrible, make fun of him together! If the comedian is hilarious, tell your date that you knew in advance that it was going to be something special for your date. You can’t go wrong with a comedy night.


So here you go! four ways to impress your date and have a successful Valentine’s Say. Now go out to the market and buy your Valentine a rose and surprise him or her with a very special date and celebrate love!!

Single’s Guide to Valentine’s day

Oh no. Valentine’s day is approaching violently again and you’re still single! And no one asked you on a date! Or your SO is in another country and cannot make it to be with you on the 14th of February! Don’t panic. You’re allowed to bawl a little bit, but then you must get your mojo back together and start thinking about having some fun!

And I’m here to give you my killer tips about how to love the love day even if you are on your own.

1. If you don’t want to spend Valentine’s alone

1.1. Go on Tinder to find a last minute date

If you really cannot imagine yourself without a romantic date with someone else, desperate times call for desperate measures. And Tinder is in order. Go on the app, change your description to make your real motives clear, and swipe right. Swipe right until your thumb hurts. Swipe right until your daily limit is over. This is not the time to be picky.

When you get matches, go directly to the subject, there is no time to waste! You will find a kindred soul that was also looking for a date for that special date, and bingo!

1.2. Check out which friends are also spending it alone

If you’re not the only one in your pack that will be spending a somewhat lonesome Valentine’s day, try to make plans with them, and together laugh at the face of social pressure to find a romantic date on Valentine’s. Maybe you can get your own “romantic” plans, or you can just have a normal friends night.

2. If you don’t mind spending Valentine’s alone

2.1. Make it a “me” evening

You are your own person and you can spend time with yourself, right?

If you are more inclined towards cozy plans, my personal recommendation would be to cook dinner, get a bottle of wine, a pink blanket and watch Titanic. Why did you die Jack, whyyy????


You can also think of something that you have been wanting to do for a while and use this opportunity to get it done. For example, is your mom’s birthday coming up and you still haven’t bought her a present? You can take the time to browse the internet and find a special gift for her. Have you been thinking of taking a more active role in your community, but don’t know how? Look for projects that would fire up your passion. Do you want to take on a new hobby, like knitting? Buy the material in advance and start doing it! May not be so romantic, but it will give you a feeling of fulfillment and self-love.

2.2. Take yourself out on a romantic date

This is the bravest option of all. Actually going out on a date, just by yourself.

Order flowers to be delivered at your door before you go to dinner. Make a reservation in that restaurant that you have been checking out for a while, but haven’t tried yet. Dress up until you feel like a doll. Or comfortable, your choice.

When the time comes, take a deep breath, leave your phone at home, and just do it. Let it sink in. The place is as nice as you expected, the food is really good and everyone is happy around you. Everything is ok. You’re ok.

And above all, just remember to love yourself and keep smiling. Happy Valentine’s day!




Who is your best Valentine match based on your zodiac sign?

It’s almost that time of the year again… Valentine’s Day. We know this is, well, let’s say, not the best time of the year for the single girls and boys among us. To make it easier to find your true love we asked the stars for help and we found your best Valentine match. Based on your zodiac sign, of course. 

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)

Best match: Leo

You two hold the same values close to your heart, meaning you’re always on the same page on important matters. What makes a Leo the perfect one for you? They are always very optimistic – something you really need in a relationship.

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)

Best match: Taurus

You’re hopelessly romantic and that’s why you need someone who prioritizes a romantic connection above everything else. That’s something a Taurus does: they’re intimate, emotional and supportive – your perfect match.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

Best match: Aquarius

You two are both very adventurous, so there’s literally never a dull moment between you guys. You’re up for anything and what could be better than doing those things together?

giphy (2).gif

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

Best match: Cancer

A Taurus and a Cancer make a perfect couple – you just understand each other perfectly. You’re like Yin and Yang: you complete each other! If that isn’t romantic, then I don’t know what is.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

Best match: Aquarius

There’s a real connection here. You guys seem to have found the perfect balance between doing stuff together and being a strong independent (wo)man. You may thank the stars for that – this is a connection made in heaven (or galaxy?).

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

Best match: Scorpio

Woah, so much intensity! Cancers search for the greatest, deepest and most romantic connections and they can find it by dating a Scorpio. Scorpios are the most intense people you’ll find – they are lovers for life or they could break your heart…

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Leo (July 23 – August 22)

Best match: Sagittarius

There is just so much passion between the two of you. Whenever you see each other, flames appear in your eyes and you can definitely feel the chemistry. This vibe is crazy, Leo. Love’s crazy, I guess.

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)

Best match: Pisces

Wow, you two are so easy-going, relaxed and cool. That makes you a great couple with no drama. And that’s pretty nice for a change, because you’ve never dated someone who’s this chill.

Libra (September 23 – October 22)

Best match: Gemini

The first thing that attracts you to a Gemini is the intellectual connection you two share. You’re totally on the same level and can have the deepest and most interesting conversations together.

giphy (3)

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)

Best match: Cancer

Damn Scorpio, you have such a strong personality and it’s hard to find someone who can handle you. Cancers aren’t that easily impressed and go for the real thing, which makes them the best match for you.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

Best match: Aries

So. Much. Energy. You two are always having the craziest ideas and ride the rollercoaster called life together. Nothing is too weird or off-limits – and the best thing is that you support each other with every crazy idea you may have.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

Best match: Taurus

When the perfect Taurus is around, you lighten up immediately. You’re the best version of yourself and you’ve never felt that same thing with anyone before. Soulmate goals!


This article was originally published in Abroad Magazine Winter 2018. 

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