We all know that the Dutch cuisine isn’t as famous as the French or Spanish cuisines, but there are many Dutch foods which are absolutely delicious! During your stay in The Netherlands, you need to try the following foods at least once. You will be surprised about how tasteful everything is!
Poffertjes are small, fluffy pancakes which are typically served with powdered sugar and butter. Most Dutchies eat this tasteful treat in fall and winter at outdoor markets. Here several stands usually serve poffertjes on a little paper plate with a tiny fork. Sometimes you also find a poffertjes stand at the market on Vredenburg square on Saturdays!
Stamppot is a savory Dutch winter meal. Traditionally it’s made out of mashed potatoes and vegetables like kale or carrots, served with smoked sausage (‘ rookworst’). The kale version (‘ boerenkool’) is the most popular version of this filling meal. Other versions of stamppot are with onions and carrots (‘hutspot’) and raw endive (‘rauwe andijvie’). Do you don’t know any Dutchie who wants to cook this tasty meal for you? Then try out this following boerenkool recipe, it’s very easy to make stamppot!
This very tasty snack is made out of puff pastry and has a filling of spiced minced meat. Most Dutchies eat this snack on the go, because you can buy it at several places (Kiosk, Broodzaak and Albert Heijn) around central stations.
This is a delicious pie with a light crust, often filled with fruits like cherries or apricots. This type of pie is originally from Limburg, in the south of the Netherlands. In this area you can taste the best Limburgse vlaai, especially in Maastricht. Are you not planning on going there any time soon? Then go visit Multivlaai in Hoogcatharijne. Here they serve also all different types of vlaai.
Bitterballen are small crunchy snacks, with a savory filling. The filling is a gooey mixture of chopped beef broth, flour, butter and herbs (‘ragout’). Order this typical Dutch snack during a round of beers at Bar Walden or Café Hofman, or any other café in Utrecht. Be careful when you bite through the crust, because the ragout filling is often very hot!
Kibbeling is the Dutch version of English fish and chips, but without chips and vinegar. The white fish has a fried crust made out of flour, eggs and milk. Usually kibbeling is served with ravigotte sauce. This sauce is also a must try, because it’s a perfect companion for kibbeling! You can buy kibbeling in any fish shop or fish stand at markets.
Which of these foods are you going to try first? Let us know in the comments below!
Utrecht is a beautiful city. It is cosy and lively at the same time. There is so much to see and do that even locals get overwhelmed sometimes. That’s why we decided to make it a little bit easier for you. We made you a bucket list with five things you should have done by the end of your abroad period!
Enjoy the view from the Dom Tower
This first bucket list item is kind of an obvious one, we know. But it’s the proud of Utrecht, so it would be weird not to mention it in this list. The Dom Tower is several centuries old and 112 meters high. If you manage to climb the 465 stairs to the top, you will be able to enjoy the beautiful view over the city. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it in one go. During the climb, your guide will take a break on several floors, to tell something about the history of the Dom Tower (and so you can catch your breath).
After the climb, you’ll probably think you deserve something sweet. Thankfully, you’re not the only one who thinks that. At Theo Blom’s bakery, you can buy chocolates that are named after the Dom Tower: Domtorentjes. They don’t exist as long as the Dom Tower itself, but they’re definitely legendary in Utrecht!
The Netherlands is famous for its canals. Utrecht is one of the cities that’s characterized by them. The canals give the city a cosy look. Instead of looking at the city while you’re walking or riding your bike through it, you should definitely go and see what the city looks like from the canals. There are several places where you can rent a boat or book boat trip with a guide. Especially when the weather is good, it’s lovely to spend a few hours in a boat with your friends.
There are a lot of nice places in Utrecht to get a good lunch, but there’s one place locals are particularly fond of: Broodje Ben. This is a stand at the Oudegracht where you can buy fresh, delicious buns with a range of several different fillings. Do you fancy a nice lunch but are you too lazy to get out of your house? No problem, Broodje Ben also delivers!
The Black Slope
Last but not least, the Black Slope. This is a nickname for a pub crawl in the pubs along the Nobelstraat. In the Nobelstraat, there are a few pubs next to each other, which makes it a really fun place to go out. When you’re not really enjoying yourself in one bar, you can walk to the next one in less than a minute!
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.
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”.
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).
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?
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.
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.
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”).
Dutch men are the tallest men in the world.
Girls, do we need to say more?
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!
What a week! From 11th to 14th of September, new internationals in Utrecht had a chance to participate in the Mentor Week, when they join two mentors and a group of other internationals to partake in several fun activities throughout the week. Since different groups did different things in different days, and the rain was a not welcomed guest, I will go through some of the highlights of the week. See if you can spot someone you know in the pictures!
Unfortunately, the rain didn’t allow for a nice canoeing activity on Monday. But that didn’t stop anyone! Instead, internationals and mentors were able to still get on a boat and enjoy a few drinks on water.
Also due to the rain on Wednesday, some groups had to go play bowling, but that was far from boring!
Everyone likes to play pool once in a while, and it makes you feel fancy! Some internationals went to poolcafé t’ Hart and experienced the competitive sides of their mentor group members, while enjoying a couple of drinks on the house.
In Lasergaming you have to shoot your opponent with – you guessed it – harmless lasers. At Ozebi the mentour groups could enjoy this activity, which helped with bonding, making some sort of exercise and having loads of fun!
In this activity everyone brought some food from their own countries to share with fellow internationals, so people could taste a little of somewhere else. Take a look at how delicious all of this food looks!
Personally, I find Karaoke one of the most fun, entertaining and ice-breaking activities, there is nothing like the impending public humiliation associated with it to make friends immediately! And I think internationals agree, because they seemed to have a great time, and didn’t have any voice left on the next day!
The Beer Cantus is a Dutch tradition that consists of making people drink and sing, and there is a series of rules that, if broken, have very special penalties. These penalties can be drinking more, or maybe go on stage and play a fun game (for the punishers, of course). It is one of the most expected activities. It took place in Club Poema, and it did not disappoint!
Reaching the end of the week and that heart breaking feeling that an amazing week is coming to an end, partying in Tivoli was the best way to let loose. People partied all night long, on the edge of starting what we hope will be a great semester!
For some, it will be just one more year. For us and for you, it will be an extraordinary year.
I still remember trying my first stroopwafel, riding my first bike in the middle of the city, the first time I ran away from the rain when just five minutes before I was bathing in the sun; it was September of 2015 and it was the premonition of a great year, a complete contrast with what my life had been so far in Portugal. Now I am almost finished with my Master’s degree in Theoretical Physics. But as with you, the new international students starting right now, I am too just embarking in a new journey.
This year I am President of the Journalism Committee of ESN, responsible for bringing you great content in this blog! Last year I was also part of ESN, in the Pubquiz Committee, and was in the Project Committe the year before that. When I am not “sciencing”, I am a bookworm and you will always find me with my Kindle. Two of my favorite books are The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera, and Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brönte. I also love TV-shows, and this past year one of my favorites was This is Us (highly recommended if you are in need of a soul-cleaning roller-coaster of emotions).
In our committee we are excited to help make your life in the Low-Lands a little bit easier: we will give you tips, report on ESN events, tell you interesting facts from the city and the Netherlands, explore current themes in Dutch culture, and so much more!
Let us have a sneak peek at the other committee members:
Marjolein is the responsible for the Abroad Magazine, and what a job that is! She is always enthusiastic and ready to get the next great story, which is why she just started her Master’s degree in Journalism and New Media at Leiden University. She was in exchange in Viena in 2016 so she is excited to give back to the exchange community. She loves travelling, food (sushiiii), dancing, fashion, writing, Gossip Girl, James Bond and Phil Dunphy from Modern Family.
Next we have Robin, the lively secretary of the committee! She is our student life expert. Born and raised in Rotterdam, she moved to Utrecht three years ago and has now completed her Bachelor’s in Information and Communication Studies. She also spent some time in exchange, more precisely in Belfast. She is a die-hard fan of Harry-Potter, and I’m not exaggerating: her room even has a secret closet under the stairs where she sometimes goes to and, she swears, closing her eyes hard enough, she is even able to do some magic!
Now we have Iris, the PR of our committee. She is sometimes a little shy, but she is fearless! She has been in Utrecht for three and a half years and just finished her Bachelor’s in Corporate Communication. She is now going to start a traineeship in Digital Content Creation, in Amsterdam. She attended a summer school “Cambridge English” in Manchester. Her guilty pleasure: 80’s music, because who can resist a good disco ball ?
Uff, so many committee members! Let me have a little rest and let Lara describe herself:
“Hello there! My name is Lara. I am 20 years old, which makes me the puppy of the Journalism Committee this year. I was born and raised in Frankfurt (Germany) and moved to Utrecht last year to study ‘International Communication and Media’ at the HU. Besides my studies I am working as a Content Marketer for a Start Up in Utrecht. I am absolutely passionate about writing, photography, travelling and exploring new cultures. One of my favourite destinations, however, will remain Australia where I lived and worked for over 8 months, closely followed by New Zealand and Bali. I also consider myself as a serious foodie and coffee addict. Honestly, it feels like I am sponsoring half of the cafés in Utrecht. So stay tuned because I am going to share my secret spots and favourite recipes with you! I am mainly responsible for the layout and design of the Abroad Magazine but, on top of that, I will take you with me to all sorts of exhibitions throughout the Netherlands and show you Utrecht out of the eyes of an International on the ESN blog.“
Now for our boys. Jeroen is pursuing his Master’s degree in Economic Geography, and he is also pursuing the World! He just got back from a seven-month trip to the Asia-Pacific region (up until a week ago he was helping us out directly from the jungle) and previous that he did an internship in Australia. He did a semester abroad in Nebraska, USA, and he loves to meet people from various parts of the world to get inspired by the cultural differences and the (unexpected) similarities.
Our second gentleman is Jelle, whose birthday is today! He studies Journalism in Utrecht, and, like myself, is not new to the backstage of ESN Utrecht, having been part of the Activities Committee last year. He is a virtuoso saxophone and piano player, and you might just find him at his favorite place, ‘t Oude Pothuys, where he likes to perform at the jam sessions. He enjoys the simple pleasures of life, and he can’t say no if you invite him for a beer (wink wink).
I also want to mention our coordinating Board Member, Beaudine, who came back as well from a long South-Asia trip, with an enviable amount of tan and fun stories to tell. She won’t be writing with us, but without her none of this would be possible.
Our most heartfelt hope is that you make the best out of your time abroad in Utrecht and we wish you all of the luck.
Do you have suggestions for the Blog or the Abroad? Please let us know in the comments, we are always receptive to your ideas!
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.
The horror that happened during World War II has brought about a spread of suffering across Europe. The Netherlands, however, is the only country that commemorates the victims on two separate days. On May 4th we pay a tribute to the lives we lost due to wartime violence (Remembrance day) and on the consecutive day, May 5th, we celebrate our regained freedom. May 5th 1945 is the day on which the German army capitulated. Members of the Dutch resistance found it was inappropriate to combine the remembrance of the people who died, and the celebration of our freedom on the same day. This is why the Dutch government decided, just years after the war ended, to use two separate days. They felt like the emotions that went along with both events were incompatible. We agree, which is why we will use this blog to inform you on the Netherlands during wartime, and the remembrance of those who passed. If you want more info on Liberation day, and the accompanying events, check out our recent blogpost.
The Netherlands during wartime (1940 – 1945)
During the first World War the Netherlands maintained a status of neutrality. Despite the neutral status, the country was pressured extensively due to its geographical position between the German Empire, occupied Belgium and the UK. After the start of World War II, the Netherlands proclaimed neutrality again, however this time, the neutral status ended quickly when Hitler decided that Nazi Germany should invade the Netherlands.
A German attack on the Netherlands on the 10th of May 1940 announced the beginning of the second World War in the Netherlands. On May 14th Germany demanded capitulation of Rotterdam, one of the most important transportation ports in the continent. Even though the city agreed to capitulation, the Germans nevertheless bombed the city. The people of Rotterdam had nothing they could do, but to seek a place to hide from the violence. Around 800 to 900 people were killed, and big parts of the city (an estimated 30.000 buildings) were completely ruined during this horrific night.
Life in the occupied Netherlands
After its occupation by the Nazi’s, the Royal family and government managed to flee the country, and they became a government-in-exile in the UK. However, for the civilians of the Netherlands life got worse… The Germans had imposed forced labor on the country. All men between the age of 18 – 45 had to work in German factories or at German farms. Many tried to hide or flee. Soon after the war started, the persecution of Dutch jews, sinti and disabled people began. The Jewish Council (Joodse Raad) was installed, an organization with a board of Jewish men. The Council served as an indirect instrument for the organization of the deportation of Jews. The board was convinced by the Germans that they were helping the Jews. However, due to the orderly measures it was a lot easier for the Germans to track down Jewish families. Its effectiveness shows in the terrible amount of people who were taken and brought to concentrations camps. At the time, the Netherlands was the home of around 140.000 Jews, at the end of the war only 38.000 survivors returned home.
Next to the help of the Jewish Council, there were people that deliberately collaborated with the occupier. Some people joined the German army (Waffen-SS), other were actively involved in capturing Jews in exchange for money. Approximately 8.000 Jews were denounced to the Germans, and sent to death camps. The Dutch nationalistic movement (NSB) had its headquarter in Utrecht. This political party was also actively involved in the persecution of Dutch Jews and Sinti.
Despite the many people who helped the Germans in order to exterminate the Jewish population in the Netherlands, there were likewise people who fought against the Germans in order to protect their compatriots. The Dutch resistance started slowly, but eventually played a crucial role in the liberation of the Netherlands by the Allies. Throughout the war many small and independent resistance groups helped the Jews by falsifying food stamp cards, collecting intelligence, publishing underground newspapers and sabotaging phonelines and railways. One of the biggest accomplishments of the Dutch resistance was the hiding of Jews. They helped families to cover up hiding places and by sheltering people in need. In total, the Dutch resistance was able to seek shelter for around 25.000 Jews. Many times the resistance was able to save the lives of young children by smuggling them to the North of the country, where they would stay with Dutch farm families until the end of the war. In addition, a secret mission succeeded and around 600 Jewish children were saved from deportation.
Commemorate those who lost their lives
The horror that took place in the Netherlands between 1940 – 1945 should never be forgotten. That is why we commemorate the lost lives on the 4th of May. On this day we honor the victims of the Second World War. However, we are aware that elsewhere in the world people are still suffering from violence and war. This day is also about them. Every year on the 4th of May at 08.00 pm the Netherlands is two minutes silent for the victims of war in the Netherlands, and around the world. Make sure you remain silent for those two minutes, as it is very important to us Dutch to be respectful towards the survivors and victims of the war. The National Committee of May 4th and 5th organizes a national memorial on the Dam square in Amsterdam, which is very impressive to attend. Additionally, many municipalities host their own memorial events.
Hopefully this blog has given you a peek in the history of war in the Netherlands. The terrible things that happened should never occur again. Show your companionship to the Dutch by standing by our side during this important day.
From the moment I had arrived here I was informed of this strange, energetic and orange day. I saw photographs taken in the streets of the Netherlands blanketed with people dressed in orange, the canals dotted with their orange party boats and orange food everywhere. The week leading up to King’s day I ate orange doughnuts, I saw orange attire and the boats prepped for their orange parties.
After partying the night before in Utrecht (photo above), coming home at 5 am, it was King’s day! And it truly was a day of energy, singing, dancing and peppered with orange! The streets had been cleaned of any evidence from the night before, or perhaps the rain rinsed it all away. The rain, I would like to think, was a blessing to prepare the grounds for what was to come with the many beer spillages and street food crumbs. Every square stood the main stage filling the space with a variety of music genres, live music and otherwise. Dutch, world food vans, and huts surrounded these areas creating a dance floor for people to gather, eat, drink and party. A surge of energy zipped around Utrecht as the festival was blooming – ready for the coming hours of complete Kingly appreciation. The sun made its presence just in time for the ESN King’s Day Boat party.
ESN King’s Day Boat Party!
Orange flags – check. Orange international students – check. Beer and snacks – check. Face paint for those without Dutch flags on their cheeks – check. The interior of the boat was a wave of orange décor. The tables were garnished with Heineken and snacks. Proudly, the ESN flag was presented on the side of the boat. International students were dressed in orange garments, wigs, hats, glasses, fake tattoos and any other orange accessory they could place on their body – completing the ultimate orange theme for total appreciation of King’s day! Once seated and on our way around Utrecht canals, the music began, more beer was presented, everyone was laughing and joking together and the atmosphere was full of spirit and appreciation of the Dutch King. Many other party boats, full of orange and fun, sailing past, waving and cheering, and contributing to the fantastic experience of King’s day so far. The boat party was a total success, a great attribution to the experience of King’s day and a fantastic start.
On exiting the boat, the town was beaming with even more orange than before! The streets were crowded, music was humming from all corners, the ‘free markets’ were up and running. On dancing to live bands, eating an array of food, and indulged in the Dutch culture of King’s day it is safe to say the day lived up to expectations and well and truly exhausted our bodies from the festivity and celebrations.
What follows is a few remarks of King’s day from international students studying here in Utrecht:
“I’ve never been one to get my hands dirty with public holidays, but it’s difficult to avoid the infectiousness of King’s Day. Being new to the Netherlands, I had no idea what to expect, so, donning a head of artificial orange hair, my friends and I set off to Amsterdam, our hopes and horizons begging to be expanded. It’s safe to say we weren’t disappointed. Streets lined with thousands of people, bodies emblazoned with every form of neon orange clothing imaginable, and music pumping through the crowd, the spirit of King’s Day was truly alive and well.
To celebrate, my friends and I decided to attend a King’s Day festival just outside the city, where a number of DJs would be playing a range of different music. Before long, the drinks were flowing and limbs were flailing in a fashion vaguely reminiscent of dance. The event, though small, had an appreciated sense of intimacy that is rare for festivals, and one that meant it wasn’t too difficult to find the friend that inevitably loses themselves in the crowd after a few too many beers. A package well worth the money, in my opinion.
For me, King’s Day embodied everything I’d hoped for from studying abroad. Often, parties can be repetitive, but King’s Day offered more than just a few drinks and a bit of dancing. It gave me an insight into a huge part of what it means to be Dutch, and the values and culture that is so important to the Netherlands, and what more can you ask for! This might have been my first King’s Day, but it certainly won’t be my last!” – Tyler – England
“I enjoyed the idea of the second-hand stuff. Because of these stalls, I walked into different parts of Utrecht which I would not have done before, I found this quite cute. I enjoyed the ESN King’s boat!” – Vivian – HongKong
“Kingsday was a spark of orange in everyday life. Utrecht buzzed with life with people from all over the world gathered together to celebrate the king’s birthday. If you haven’t done it already I strongly recommend you to experience this event at least once in your lifetime.
You won’t regret it!” – Giorgenzo – Italy
“what I really enjoyed was the public events, how everybody was out on the streets and the whole society kicked back and enjoyed the night/day. It was just good fun getting dressed up and getting drunk, and a good reason to wear luminous shades of orange for the first time in my life!” – Angus – New Zealand
‘This was my second Kingsday in the Netherlands, but it was definitely an unforgettable one! I went with my friends to the Kingsland Festival, where the cheerful crowd and great music created such a good vibe. If you wanted to party and dance all day, this was the perfect place to be!’ – Una- Croatia
“Amazing atmosphere throughout the city! I loved the flee markets and the mini bands that played on the streets! A really enjoyable experience!” – Sian – England