8 amazing facts about The Netherlands you probably haven’t heard of before

The Dutch culture could sometimes appear a bit strange to you, because you are probably not used to all the habits of the Dutchies. Don’t worry, because as soon as you recognize some of these habits, you will discover that they are actually fun (and sometimes make sense). In this article we have summed up the 8 most amazing facts for you.

  1.       Dutchies are the largest consumers of licorice in the world.

The whole population eats more than 32 million kilos per year of this chewy stuff called “drop”.

  1.       On the 5th of December the Dutch celebrate a winter holiday named “Sinterklaas”.

This holiday is centered around St. Nicholas, the same figure around whom the holiday of Christmas is based. Make sure to eat lots of “pepernoten” (small Speculoos bites), “chocolade letters” (letters made out of chocolate) and “gevuld speculaas” (speculoos filled with almond paste).

  1.       In Lisse you find the largest flower garden of the world called “De Keukenhof”.

In the gardens you can see more than 800 different tulips. A must visit in spring! When are you going to plan your visit to see all these tulips?

  1.       Spring officially has sprung when women can wear skirts again on Rokjesdag (skirt day).

Every year in the early spring, the Dutch decide when Rokjesdag will take place. This is always on one of the first days in spring when it actually feels warm outside (around 20 degrees). On this day, women will start showing off their bare legs by wearing skirts.

  1.       The Dutch say hello to each other with three kisses on the cheek.

This is an informal way of greeting each other. Friends mostly give a hug and/or one kiss on the cheek.

  1.       French fries are always served with mayonnaise.

The Dutch love to put a lot of sauce on their French fries, preferably a mix of different sauces. The most common mixes of sauces are mayonnaise, peanut sauce and onions (known as “patatje oorlog”) or mayonnaise, ketchup and onion (known as “patatje speciaal”).

  1.       Dutch men are the tallest men in the world.

Girls, do we need to say more?

  1.    The Dutch have the lowest incidence of lactose intolerance.

An actual reason why they eat lots and lots of cheese.

How fast will you be able to adjust to the Dutch culture? Let us know which of these facts are new to you!


Goodbye Memory Ideas

Cheerio My ‘Dutch’ Family

It is now the final week of Erasmus before SSH kicks us all out ready for our summer take over students. Many have already returned home and tears are being shared among those who remain. What follows are some suggestions towards your Erasmus memories!

Dutch Flag

In England, and perhaps other countries also, on the last days of school the students get their school shirt signed by their fellow students… and arms and face, but that doesn’t matter. You can carry on this little tradition and get a shirt signed, or perhaps grab a Dutch Flag and have that signed instead! It will take up little room for your many future travels and moving and you can always look back at all the beautiful comments people will write about you.

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Throughout the year you may had accumulated a few things, such as tickets from travelling around Europe and in the Netherlands. You shouldn’t throw those cute memory triggers away! Buy a book with decent paper, Hema photo albums are cheap and good quality, and stick all those treasures in a quirky or organized way to flick through in the future. Get people to sign that book, write messages, or/and sign their photographs!


The Polaroid/ Disposable

If you do not own one of these delightful gadgets then Hema is selling them for under 70 Euro! Or opt for a classic disposable camera for 5 Euro! You can take a photo series of the beautiful faces of your friends, take group photographs, selfies, you name it! This collection can be added to your scrapbook or in a cute memory box for your future self to browse through.


Friendship things

Some students have got matching tattoos with their housemates, or went for a less permanent option and bought matching bracelets or made them. Jewelry is a typical and simple way to look back and reflect on the people who share the same bracelet or necklace. Perhaps matching Utrecht shirts, Miffy key rings, anything inspirational and useful you can think of – try and get the same for all.


The Final Dinner/aroma

One last meal together. Everyone chips in with their traditional dish. A dish or recipe that will remind you of that person forever. For me, it is Olive oil. Never had I seen so much oil used in my life. On bread especially. All these strange and wonderful things will be nostalgic when you return back home and see something in the supermarket that reminds you of your flatmates. I will never see oil the same again.



Jumbo. What an icon. Jumbo, for some, is what they class as their first Dutch word as they shout it on their daily cycle from Uithof towards the trusted store. Hema, the savior for our empty rooms. AH with the hamster shopping bags. Bags, you say? If you will never see a Jumbo/Hema/ AH again, perhaps take the reusable bags back home with you and confuse your home residents with the bright yellow bag with black JUMBO letters. “What does that mean”, people will ask. “It means LOVE in Dutch”. Oh Jumbo… Farewell.


Dutch things

Waffles. Little key rings with clogs. Delft blue designs. Dom Tower merchandise. Miffy something. Utrecht key ring/badge. Anything ‘typical Dutch’ will do to remind you of all your crazy, exciting and interesting experiences here in the Netherlands.


Of course, nothing can beat the real experience. These things are there to help trigger your unconscious to remember those fun and crazy experiences. I hope, like me, you go home full of happiness and had learnt many new things. I certainly will return and I have my collection of forever memories ready for departure.

Thank you Netherlands for having me here, I enjoyed every moment of it and I will never forget!

5 lessons you have learned during your time abroad

Time’s a bitch and your days abroad are numbered, so it’s time for some reminiscing!

Your bank balance hit a new low

Ouch yup, checking your bank balance during your time abroad is no fun. You’ve had so much to see and do and eat and explore and what not … Still at the same time hardly any money came in. Make sure to find a good summer job when you return home, because you did learn one thing from this experience: money can buy you amazing experiences! So make sure to save some money so you’ll be able to say yes to new adventures. Oh and maybe a lesson in budgeting is also a good idea. 😉

The world is bigger than you thought

Some people say the it’s a small world we’re living in. Well, it is when you stay at home. But when you travel abroad you’ll meet so many different people from different cultures and countries that you’ll soon realize that there’s so much left to discover in this world! The world counts almost 200 countries and once you get caught with the travel bug you can’t wait to discover them all. And since you have made friends all over the world, you’ve got a good excuse to do so!


Friends can be found everywhere

A few months ago Utrecht was a just a dot on the map, an empty concept ready to be filled with new experiences. You might have arrived in Utrecht all on your own, but I’m sure that you’ll leave town with a ton of new memories and friends. Living abroad teaches you that there are friends to be made everywhere. At ESN, at university, at your student house. People love to connect and to share experiences. Some of the friendships are there to stay and others you’ll leave behind in Utrecht. Never be afraid to start an adventure on your own, because you’ll meet other people who want to share their adventure with you.

Say yes to everything!

Do you remember that one night when you were sitting on your couch watching a replay of How I Met Your Mother? Nope, didn’t think so either. The most amazing things happen when you don’t expect them to happen. You just have to be flexible and be there at the right time and moment. Whilst studying abroad you’ve got all the time, you’re not bound to a job a or other obligations. So whenever one of your Utrecht-buddies asks whether you’ve got time to come and visit them in their home country, say yes and just do it!

You’re a survivor

Leaving behind the familiar for the big unknown is always a big step. How are you gonna survive without your besties around the corner and your mum and dad nearby? Well, congratulations, because you just did it! You went to a city where you didn’t know anyone and you’re gonna leave this city with new confidence. Studying abroad teaches you that you can always count on yourself and that you’re able to survive!

From Utrecht with love

Whether you like it or not, your stay in Utrecht is slowly but surely coming to an end. It’s time to say your goodbyes and pack your bags for moving back home. Don’t you just wish you could stuff everything in your suitcase, from those delicious bitterballen to the millions of tulips to your new best friends? Unfortunately, no matter how advanced the JoCo-team is, even we cannot advise you on how to do so. What we can do, however, is tell you which are the best souvenirs you can take home for yourself and your loved ones!


Of course, this typical Dutch food is the first on our list. Cheese for the Dutch is like tea for the English; it’s the bread and butter of the nation. Why not take home a few blocks of this heavenly goodness? We highly recommend paying a visit to Cheese & More in the centre, but there are several other huge cheese shops further away, such as Morty’s Kaas en Delicatessen or the Pakhuis Utrecht Kaas Boter Eieren. Be careful; it’s easy to spend a fortune in these stores because everything is just so tasty! As for transportation: there are no longer restrictions in place regarding animal products in the EU, so pack up! If you’re travelling to a non-EU country, however, we advise to check the specific requirements before you stock up on cheese only to be stopped by a hungry airport controller. 😉

Tacky typical souvenirs

Yes, we know that this sounds cheesy 😉 and slightly dated, but those souvenir shops all around the centre of Utrecht sell lots of cute little bits and bobs that you and your family will appreciate. Just think about it: in a few weeks or months, you’ll miss Utrecht and your friends so much that you’ll have a hard time coping with their absence. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a key ring with a miniature version of the Dom Tower attached always with you? It’s like carrying a piece of Utrecht with you at all times. How about some T-shirts with bikes or other typical Dutch icons (Miffy and the like) on them? You can show your old-new home how proud you are of having lived abroad in such a cool place. Don’t forget the amazing Delfware pottery – you could even purchase a Delftware-decorated cheeseboard! That way, anywhere you look you’ll be reminded of the great times you’ve spent here.

Pictures, pictures, pictures

Nowadays, we store everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, on our smartphones. Of course, it is extremely convenient to keep all your pictures on your phone: it’s easy to access and you always carry it around, right? However, printed pictures still have their charm. Can’t you just see a picture of you with your new besties posing at the canals with a funky frame, hanging on your wall? After all, this has probably been one of the most fun and eventful experiences of your life, and seeing it in your home will not only bring back fond memories but also serve as proof of how much you have learnt and achieved during this time. There are plenty of stores such as Color Utrecht and MultiCopy where you can get those awesome photos of yours printed, and you can find frames almost anywhere, from HEMA to souvenir shops to IKEA.


Naturally, this list is far from being finished. Are you curious of what other international students take with themselves (literally and figuratively) from Utrecht? Keep an eye on your mailbox in the next weeks and read all about it in our final Abroad magazine of the year!

How to maintain a long distance relationship with a Dutchie?

As summer is approaching, so is the time for many of you to say goodbye to your new friends, Utrecht and perhaps even a Dutch lover. Saying goodbye can be hard, especially when you’ve fallen for a special someone from another country. Nobody says it’s gonna be easy;  that’s why we’re providing you with some tips to help you maintain a long distance relationship with your Dutch lover or just your Dutch friends!

Make sure to bring home frozen bitterballen

This snack is one of the most typical Dutch foods. A yummy fried meatball with some mayonnaise, accompanied by some cold drinks on a terrace… That’s the image that pops into my mind when I think of Dutch summer. So what better way to bring home a bit of the Netherlands than bringing some frozen bitterballen? Of course, this tip is only for those of you who don’t have to travel home too far. You can easily fry them at home and share them with your family and friends. This way, your family and friends at home will fall in love with the Netherlands immediately (and indirectly with your newly found lover or friends). The old saying ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’ is definitely applicable here.

Communication is key

As you might have noticed, the Dutch are not known for their communication skills. We’re famous for our directness and don’t share our emotions and feelings too easily. That makes communicating with your Dutch partner or friends even more important. In today’s world it’s easy to stay in touch via Facebook or Skype, but in order to truly make your friendship or relationship work, you have to dig a bit deeper. Try talking to each other on a regular basis, talk about your expectations and don’t be afraid to tell the other how you feel. However, be careful to not overdo it since too much planned talking or texting can take the spontaneity out of your relation and ruin it.

Seize the opportunity to travel

Having friends abroad is the perfect excuse to travel more often. Plan visits to each other, so that your Dutch friends can also see your home country. But visiting each other shouldn’t be the only travelling for you; try to explore new countries together, so you can create long-lasting memories and make the times you see each other even more special. Check out the new Abroad magazine (arriving on your doorstep within two weeks) for more information on travelling with Erasmus friends.

Keep up your Dutch vocabulary

As said above, communication is key. Even though many Dutchies have an excellent level of speaking English, you can easily charm us if you’re able to speak some Dutch tous. You might have learned a few words or sentences here and there, but try keeping up your Dutch skills even when you’ve returned home. But how can one do that when no one around you speaks Dutch? Try watching Dutch movies with subtitles on Netflix, or practice your Dutch using the DuoLingo app.

Believe in your relationship

You might enjoy the idea of staying together despite the distance, but after a few months apart you will probably both start to realize the difficulty of a long distance relationship or friendship. If you want to make it work, it’s crucial to keep reminding each other of your love for one another. Confirmation of your commitment to each other can make or break your relationship. Both parties have to be willing to work through the problems that inevitably will arise, instead of dropping the relationship at the first sign of difficulties. Believe in your relationship or friendship, and I assure you: everything will work out eventually.

For more tips on saying goodbye, check out the coming edition of the Abroad magazine, filled with must see’s and do’s for your final weeks in the Netherlands.


Side-jobs for international students in Utrecht

Living the life as an international student is often amazing. Exploring local cultures, eating local foods, trying all the bars and making trips all around. However, all these activities do come with their costs and for many students, getting some extra money is always nice! Where to find these extra euros though? And where can you find a side-job as an international student in Utrecht? Here we’ll give you some tips and tricks how to get employed!

Get to work in stores

These days many clothing and accessory stores such as Mango, Zara, Pull&Bear, you name it, have international people employed. Most Dutch employees speak English relatively well and so do their customers, consequently many stores decided to also hire foreign employees. Just step by and ask whether they need extra employees!

Become a Teacher Assistant/University employee

What better way is there, when you’re inside the university already, to make the time you spend their profitable? Becoming a teacher assistant on the one hand is a great CV-booster, you get to spend time with your teachers and build up a netwerk and on the other hand, earn some money while you’re busy with your studies! Most studies in Utrecht are English-oriented so you should be able to get by without speaking Dutch!

Start your own

When you feel that you have better plans than to become a regular employee, why not starting your own company/sales point? Give fellow students some catch-up classes, walk your neighbour’s dog or do some babysitting might all earn you some extra $$ for the week


Although not a great cashmachine, volunteering might give you other benefits. Try organizations such as TasteBeforeYouWaste, the Green Office or helping out at a refugee house. Here you can meet a large variety of people and at the same time contribute to your own experience and to Dutch society.


If you like the Netherlands, or being abroad, that much, you might want to consider an international career. You’re never too early to start your orientation on an international career. So let ESN be the stepping stone of your international career and get to know as many people from all over the world!

Summertime Snacking!

Summertime Snacking


The sun is blazing,

Slowly your skin is bronzing,

What food looks amazing?

Let me help you!


Now that the sun is out, everyone seems to be out! Being indoors to cook food doesn’t always seem so pleasing when you also want to be outdoors enjoying the sun. So what yummy alternatives are there to grab and go here in Utrecht?

Italian Sandwich Huts!

Do you have lessons on Janskerkhofand wonder which hut to choose to buy a sandwich in-between your lessons? Or have you simply cycled past and noticed two huts standing in the square with outdoor seating and ever wonder what there was to offer? Well, don’t wonder anymore! They both offer Italian themed food, especially sandwiches. Do you fancy calzone, pastie, pizza, or a homemade sandwich? These dedicated sandwich artists wake up at 4am (as was informed) to begin baking the bread and pastries in order to bring you the best quality sandwich eating you could ever imagine! And just look at the size of them!

Right Hut – Described to have ‘true Italian’ ingredients as told by Italian sources. Dutch + Italian preference.


Left Hut – Described to be fuller with various ingredients and variety. International preference (you will hear them chant Italiaanse Broodjes from their homes – they will come in herds).



So which will you prefer? There is a silent war between the two, yet, overall they both provide food at a similar price and just as excellent quality.

Noodles – Eazie

Are you at the Neude and cannot be bothered to walk towards Janskershof for an Italian sandwich? Why not try Eazie, where you can create a box of your preference filled with a pick-and-mix choice of healthy goods? On the board above the staffs head you are guided on how to fill these snack boxes – rice or noodle – thin or thick – and how many veggies or meat you would prefer. Within 5 minutes, boom, your beautifully crafted and well thought out concoction of healthy goodies in your box and ready to go. Eazie – aye? Get it… easy… haha.. No? Ok. How about if I tell you ESN have a deal with Eazie! So bring your ESN card! Here is a photo of a small choice!


Sweet choice

So, you have made your own sandwich or noodle/pasta at home or went to Jumbo/Plus/AH for snacks, but you want something cold? Well, there are many options for you! Of course, look out for Mr Icecream Bike man. He will most likely come and find you if you are in a very populated destination.


Of course, if you are in Utrecht town you can find the ice-cream shops and stationary vans where you can get your cold goodies. These are dotted around everywhere, especially around the Dom area where you can get a Frozen Yoghurt, or a Fro Yo if you’re hip and down with the kids. Here is an example of a small Fro Yo located next to the Dom Tower neatly placed in a cute traditionally Dutch designed cup. This is small, the larger options did not come in this cute cup.  


Before you leave Utrecht, as an international that is, you should definitely try each of these above. The guy on the bike selling ice-cream will see your desperate eyes and want for ice-cream. Once one person greets him, suddenly a group of people will come and more and more!

Keep cool over summer, hydrated and fed during those study breaks! There are snacks and food for all

Happy studying!

How to date a Dutch guy

As you read in our Abroad magazine’s Spring edition – love is in the air! And the fact that the semester is coming to an end doesn’t mean you should give up on finding (and keeping) that cute Dutch guy you’ve had your eye on ever since you arrived in the Netherlands. But how do you go about getting what/who you want?

Where to find them

You might already have a person in mind, but if you’re still looking for that special someone, a big question could be: “Where do I meet Him?”. Sure, you could go to a bar and see what happens, but we have even better ideas for you!

 • Join a sports club / gym – most Dutchies actively pursue some sort of a sport (hockey and football are especially popular ones), so bumping into a bunch of cute guys is child’s play near sport fields and the gym. You getting healthy and in shape is just icing on the cake!

 • Go to funky concerts – Utrecht offers a wide variety of concerts from reggae to techno, so going to these parties is fun in itself. Finding someone who’s crazy about the same music as you is the dream, right?

 • Study in a café – Studying in the library is great for quiet productive time, but if your plan is to meet and talk to someone, move to a café with your books! Your study programme is also a great way to start a conversation.

 • Picnic in the park with friends – As the sun starts shining warmer, most of the Dutch make their way towards the parks to play football, picnic or just chill listening to music. Grab your friends and join the locals to meet the One!

 • Go to an ESN party – The ESN parties on Tuesdays in Poema are full of internationals who are in a similar situation to you. Meet like-minded people at the party or join any other ESN activities to have fun AND find love!

What to do once you’re dating

Finally, you found your crush! Now, you should know that Dutch guys can be quite different from the people you’ve dated back home. Make sure you watch out for the following pitfalls:

 • Make a move – The Netherlands is a highly emancipated country that prides itself in fighting for the equality of women. That, however, also implies that you shouldn’t sit around and wait for that cutie to ask you out – don’t be embarrassed to ask him yourself!

• Get used to directness – As you might have experienced already, the Dutch like to get straight to the point and express their opinions clearly. That can mean that he turns you down or he’ll tell you he’s also interested. Either way, at least you have a straight answer.

• Drop the games – Since the Dutchies are straightforward themselves, they prefer others to act like that too. That means: forget about complicated tactics and crazy plans and just be honest; it will work in your favour. 😉

 • Minimise makeup – Again, this is connected to the honesty argument. Dutch guys, just like any other nation’s men, appreciate a nice exterior, but if you turn up to a relaxed date in a long dress and full-on makeup, he’ll probably be taken aback – not in a positive way. Dress in a way that makes you feel at ease and doesn’t make him think you’re off to a gala!

 • PDA is not a Dutch quality – In some cultures, showing affection in public is widely accepted. However, don’t try to force a Dutch guy to get all cuddly and kissy in front of his friends; it will end up being an uncomfortable situation for everyone, which is not what you want, right?


There you go, our top advice on how to date a Dutchie! Even though these tips are applicable to the majority of Dutch men, each guy is a gem with his own quirks and kinks, so treat him nicely and use the aforementioned advice with care!

How did you meet your Dutch love? Let us know in a comment below!

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