The friend I miss the most

Door Jelle de Korte

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When I moved from Middelburg (A town in the provence of Zeeland) to Utrecht a couple of years ago, I was very excited. I just could not wait to have my own place and start a new life in a vibrant city like my beloved Utrecht. My mother asked me if I was going to miss her. Of course I was, but at the same time not really.
Back then, I used to go back home almost every week. I still played in a band in my hometown so I saw my parents a lot. When I quit the band a year later, I started going home less and less. Still I didn’t really miss my parents, because I could call them and every now and then they would come visit me in Utrecht or my brothers in Amsterdam and we’d go to a restaurant. So no I didn’t really miss my parents and I still don’t.

I also don’t really miss my friends. Most of my good friends live in Utrecht, Amsterdam or Rotterdam and we frequently visit each other. I am very lucky to say that there aren’t a lot of people I miss whilst living here in Utrecht. Some of you might really miss your friends and family, and you maybe wonder why I am writing this.
But there is something we might have in common when it comes to missing someone. Because even though I don’t miss any people, there is still someone I deeply miss, especially when it’s a nice day to go outside. I consider him as one of my best friends and the love of my life.

I am talking about my dog, Bram.

Bram is a moron. He doesn’t fetch any balls I throw and he always looks at me with a stupid look on his face. He is an idiot. But such a sweet, loving and happy idiot. He is always so happy when we finally see each other after weeks or months of me not being at home. There is no one in the entire world who is as happy to see me as Bram and I love him. Without a doubt there are some of you who feel the same way about your pet at home.

A couple of months ago I was really sad. It was such a beautiful day and all I wanted to do was have a long walk with Bram. But Bram wasn’t here. Bram was at my parents’ house, so I couldn’t walk with him. I looked outside the window and I saw some people heading over to the park with their dogs. I cried a little bit. I was so jealous of those people and if I couldn’t walk with Bram I wanted to walk their dogs. But you don’t really go out on the street and ask the first person you see with a dog if you can walk him. So I opened my laptop and tried to distract myself from all the sad feelings.

But then I saw it… I couldn’t believe the coincidence and looked around if Facebook wasn’t spying on me. I usually hate the suggested ads Facebook shows me on my timeline, but this sounded amazing: http://www.hondjeuitlaten.nl. A site where you can offer yourself to walk with dogs whose owners don’t have enough time. I cried again. Could I finally meet another best little friend here in Utrecht?

These days I occasionally walk with a dog from one of my neighbours and it is amazing. But if you don’t have a neighbour with a dog but you do feel the urge to walk with a dog, I suggest you go to this site. It really helps when you’re feeling a bit homesick.

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“Autumn is a second Spring, just imagine every falling leaf is a growing flower”

Autumn has just started in the Netherlands, be prepared! Especially when you’re an exchange student from the more Southern parts of Europe, it’s probably getting a bit chilly for you already. It’s raining every day when you cycle to class, and your professor is getting a bit more grumpy in the morning. If you’re commuting from further away you’re getting to know our perfect railway system; run by a cooperation between two partners. The first is team NS, that mostly uses their excuse: “if you compare us to other countries’ railway operators we are almost always on time. Except if you look at Japan, South-Korea or Germany, but that’s different”.  The second party, Prorail, languishes in self-pity: “we can’t do anything about leaves on the rail, they’re just so slippery.” Instead of fixing problems together they mostly just blame each other all Autumn long. Unfortunately for you guys, who all came to this beautiful city, Utrecht Central station is the national hub of the Dutch railway network. Almost every train runs through it, and if something goes wrong in the nearby area, most of the power network has to be shut down. So even if there is nothing wrong with your train, it could be possible that it’s still delayed.

As you may have noticed I just spent the whole paragraph complaining about daily life miseries. That’s also Dutch culture. Get used to it, embrace it and participate. Complain ’till every other international student gets annoyed by you. That’s real Dutch integration, and it sometimes comes with a price. But stick to the weather and trains, otherwise you’re going to sound negative. Save your happy attitude for the start of the winter, because when the first frost prospects are starting to pop up in the weather report everybody expects you to be super enthusiastic about ice skating, making snow dolls and celebrating Sinterklaas.

Hang on this Autumn, take an extra hot chocolate and make sure you don’t get blown away!

10 things every international student can relate to

Being an international student is actually a really special time in your life. You go to another country, meet new people, experience all sorts of things and – most of all – you can enjoy every minute of it, because hey, this is not your normal day-to-day life. But being an international is also challenging, exhausting and well, not always that fun (I’m talking about 1 per cent of the time, of course). It’s that time of your life when every day is different – and it’s all part of the ride.

There are certain moments that every international student has experienced during his or her exchange and which you’ll completely understand. Maybe you have to laugh, cry or scream (internally), but you have to admit: these things are soooo relatable. Here they come:

1. Introducing yourself is not always that simple.

You introduced yourself to, like, 247897 people, and every single one of them just doesn’t get your name. You can’t help it that your name is so oddly specific for your country. Now, when you introduce yourself to new people, you just add an explanation already. Or use your nickname. Nobody cares.

2. Locals think that the only thing you’re here for is partying.

Which is not true, of course. You’re here to study and learn about different cultures. Think about all of the international connections and opportunities for your career, just because you went abroad!

But ok, maybe just a little bit.

3. Because you have to admit, this is the time of your life when you drink the most.

It’s a shame, but it’s true.

4. Eventually, you’re really tired of meeting new people.

So you hide in your room and decide to take a nap instead of going to another social activity. Don’t get me wrong, you like to meet people and stuff, but sometimes enough is enough.

5. But you’re never tired of hearing about another culture’s customs.

And comparing those with your own. “Wow, in Holland everyone is always on time? That’s so weird.”

6. You want to discover every delicious restaurant, great coffee bar and hot nightclub your new hometown has to offer.

You made a list of all the cool places you HAVE to visit before you leave. And then you realize that you’ve got no clue about the city you come from.

7. Sometimes, you get really annoyed by tourists, who are, just like you, international people.

Because you’re a local now, duh.

8. You can say ‘cheers’ in twelve languages by now.

You’re such a linguistic talent. Who would’ve thought that you would learn so much in such a short period of time? You can make your parents proud when you return home.

9. You learn to be completely fine on your own.

Hello, independency!

10. And last but not least, you think you can definitely live here.

You can’t imagine that you’ll go back in a few months/weeks/days, because this is your hometown as well. You can already see yourself living here, going to work, celebrate national holidays – you’re such an international person!

Discover the Utrecht nightlife!

The Utrecht nightlife is fun and exciting! Whether you want to go for drinks, do some dancing, sing (bad) karaoke songs or listen to some live music, there are many nice places where you can have a good time with your friends. This article will hopefully help you to explore and discover the diversity of the Utrecht nightlife.

Good food and drinks

Are you looking for a place where you can go for dinner and after hang out to drink some beers? Then you should definitely visit Bar Walden, Beers & Barrels or Mick O’ConnellsBar Walden offers students a nice three course menu for only 15 euros! At Beers & Barrels the food is delicious, especially the burgers and pulled pork are very tasty. Mick O’Connells is an Irish Pub where you can hang out and watch live football or other sports. On the 27th of October they even organize a Halloween party! Besides these bars, Kafé België and Café Olivier are two other bars where you can hang out and enjoy special beers. These bars usually stay open until 2 am, so their final rounds mostly happen around 1:30 am.  

Live music

‘t Oude Pothuys is the only bar in town where there is live music every night. Don’t miss out the rock and soul nights on Thursdays, these nights are always absolutely memorable. In the weekends you can go to Stathe where you can listen to live music of upcoming artists and singer/songwriters. If you’re a bit into alternative music, then you can enjoy small concerts of all kinds in ACU and EKKO.

Bars where you can stay for the party

Around de Neude, Janskerkhof and Nobelstraat there are many bars where you can go party after midnight. You don’t have to pay any entrance, so you can easily visit multiple bars in one night! The music in these bars is most of the time a mix between house, hiphop and pop hits. Nice places to go are for example: De Beurs, Hofman Café, ‘t Gras van de buren and Vrienden. Are you up for some karaoke? Then go to Café Ome Willem, the only karaoke bar in town.

Places to party

Tivoli, Stairway to Heaven, ACU and Ekko organize all different kinds of parties. Keep an eye on the Facebook event pages of these places to stay up to date when their parties will take place. For example, the famous straight friendly gay party PANN takes place in Tivoli. If you’re into techno music, you should definitely go to BASIS or WAS. And don’t forget about the ESN Student nights at Poema every Tuesday! With any student card you have free entrance and before midnight a beer only costs you €1,00.

So, what are your plans for next week? Let us know! We hopefully see you soon at the ESN student night!

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!

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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!

Let the games begin!

Your exam week is approaching, the panic attacks are becoming more intense, but you still can’t stop thinking of how hard you are going to party when all the struggle is over. After all, is there a better period to party than during these long sunny days, once you know that the summer holidays have started? Since we know you are probably tired of studying, we have decided to put up a simple drinking game list for you and to motivate you a bit! Enjoy! 🙂

Bit the bag

Make a circle and put a bag in the middle of the ground. One by one, each player has to pick up the bag using only their mouth. You can’t use your hands, and if you fail, you have to drink. Each round, and inch of the top of the bag is cut of so it is getting more difficult to pick the bag.

Attached at the hip

Each player writes down a body part on a paper and places them in a pile. All the players are divided into pairs and get are assigned a body part. The pair must be ‘attached’ by that body part as long as they can without moving, or starting to laugh. Every time a pair separates, they must drink.

Fuzzy duck

You have to say “fuzzy duck” to the person on your left. The round continues until someone says “does he”. You must now say “ducky fuzz”, but now going in the direction towards right. “Does he” can change direction again. If you say it wrongly, you drink!

Drink while you think

The first person says a name of a famous person, for example Donald Trump. Now the person on your left side must say a a celebrity whose name begins with the letter of that celebrity’s last name, in this case Penelope Cruz for example. If you don’t come up with the name in  6 seconds, you drink.

Paranoia

The person on your right whispers you a question, the answer of which has to be somebody playing the game (e.g. “who is the tallest person here?”). You have to respond out loud. If someone wants to know what the question was, they have to drink.

Medusa

Everyone forms a circle around the table. Place 20 drinks on the middle of the table. All the players put their heads down and on the count of three, you look at another player. If two people find that they looked at each other, they must scream ‘Medusa’ and drink. The last to finish their drink must take an additional one. The game is best when there are 6 or more people.

Straight Face

Every player writes a funny, inappropriate or ridiculous sentence on the paper and put it in a box. The players who can’t keep their a straight face must drink.

Keep calm and start with the drinking games!

Strawberry heaven

One of the best things about spring and summer are all the tasty, fresh fruits and vegetables you can buy and combine in many different recipes. This time, however, the winner of the perfect fruit award goes to the delicious strawberries! Do you prefer the taste of this yummy fruit in your summer cocktail or are you more of a cake fan? Check out these recipes, and try out your culinary skills!

Strawberry Frosé

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Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle rosé (750 ml), chilled
  • 2 cups of chopped strawberries
  • 1/4 cup of vodka
  • 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups of ice

What to do:

  1. Combine in a blender the following: half the bottle of rosé, 1 cup of strawberries, half the vodka, and half the lemon juice. Add 2 cups of ice and blend it all together.
  2. Repeat the same procedure adding the remaining ingredients.

How to serve:

Serve it immediately and add a few fresh strawberries on top! 🙂

Strawberry shortcake

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Ingredients:

Biscuits:

  • 2 cup of flour
  • ⅓ cup of sugar
  • 4 teaspoon of  baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ cups of butter
  • 2 teaspoon of sour cream
  • 0.5 cup of  milk

Strawberry topping:

  • 2 packs of  strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of  orange-flavored liqueur or syrup (optional)

Whipped cream:

  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup of confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • ½ cup of sour cream

What to do:

Biscuits: Heat oven to 200 degrees. Take a large bowl and put flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix it all together. Cut in the butter with the pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Stir in the sour cream, then gradually add 2/3 cup milk, stirring until mixture forms a dough.

Pat dough into a 6-inch by 8-inch rectangle shape and cut into 8 rectangles. Brush with the 2 teaspoons milk and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake it for 12 minutes, until it gets gold.

Strawberry Topping: Several hours before serving, slice strawberries and toss with sugar and liqueur if desired.

Whipped Cream: Whip cream with confectioners’ sugar and vanilla just until soft peaks form; do not over whip. Fold in sour cream; cover and refrigerate.

How to serve:

Cut the biscuits in half and serve topped with strawberries, cream and syrup.

Rangpur Strawberry Crush

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Ingredients:

  • 4 strawberries
  • 300 ml of  Gin
  • 100 ml of lemon-lime soda

What to do: 

  1. Cut the strawberries and put them in a highball glass.
  2. Add crushed ice and Gin to it.
  3. Top with lemon-lime soda.

How to serve:

Serve immediately 🙂

 

 

King’s Day: An International Perspective

 

 

“You must experience King’s day!” – September, Orientation day, Dutch Culture speech.

Before the Birthday-yay

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.

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King’s Day!

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.

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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.

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Interviews

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

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“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

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“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

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“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

Spring-clean your room like a pro!

The sun is out, you and your friends are enjoying the weather in the park and the last thing on your mind right now is cleaning your room. After all, it is so messy that you don’t even know how to start cleaning it. Your mom is probably too far away to complain about the mess, but the JoCo is here to help you out! We have collected some tips and tricks for effective spring-cleaning. Give your room a fresh new look and you will feel much better as well!

Donate your clothes!

Since you are in the Netherlands, feel free to forget about your nice classy clothes because let’s be honest, you probably are wearing simple jeans and sneakers all the time! There are many different places to donate your clothes: you can check out some second-hand shops that accept clothes or different charities.

If you want to donate to charity, check out ‘Het winkeltje’ AZC Joseph Haydnlaan. The refugee center at the Joseph Haydnlaan will need summer clothes this month. So if you’ve got clothes which are clean and without defects but you still don’t wear them, you can make someone else really happy with them! Leave the clothes on Mondays between 11:00 am and 3:30 pm at AZC Joseph Haydnlaan 2Utrecht.

The concept of the Salvation Army Reshare containers is good as well! You can leave your clothes and people in charge will distribute them where necessary, and the clothes often go to refugees.

Another option, which benefits yourself ánd society is to hand in your cloths in a store and receive a discount on your shopping! If you give your clothes to &Other Stories they’ll even give you a 10% discount in return 🙂 In some stores like H&M, you can give away clothes from any brand and they will recycle the material for new clothes. Sustainability is very important and we encourage you to support this method

Give away your furniture!

When it comes to furniture, check out the Facebook page ‘Gratis ophalen in Utrecht en omgeving’ where you can post a picture of what you want to give away for free. This is a great way to help out people who don’t want or can spend money on new furniture.

You can also visit shops like Weggeefwinkel Utrecht where you can leave furniture and books you don’t use. They are located at Tweede Daalsedijk 2a and are open every Wednesday and Saturday from 14:00 until 17:00 pm.

Sell old books!

Sharing is caring and many students would be happy to get a textbook for a cheaper price than the new ones. Check out the Facebook pages of International Students Utrecht and sell or give for free the books which you don’t use anymore. Visit the books4life site where you can donate your books. The store will sell the books and donate the profit to organizations such as Amnesty International.

We hope you find these tips useful, and that you will donate the stuff you don’t use for a good cause. A clean room won’t make only your mom happy, but many people who are in need of free stuff! 😉

 

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