Desperately in need of a great present? These are the 10 best giftshops in Utrecht

When we get older it’s harder to find a gift for someone. What to give? Booze, a book or a giant birthday card (including sounds) – admit it, it’s a challenge every time. When we were kids it was so much easier. Just buy us some toys and cake and it was the Best. Birthday. Ever. But now? The only things we really need are money, a good night’s sleep and some comfort food. But unfortunately, these things are not so easy to wrap. Luckily for you we selected the top 10 of best giftshops in Utrecht when you’re totally out of inspiration.

We know, the official gift season is over. But the cold winter months always seem to be that time of the year when it suddenly is everyone’s birthday. So in case you also have a lot of those birthdays to celebrate: now you know where to shop the perfect gift.

The top 10 giftshops in Utrecht

1. It’s a present

Looking for an original birthday gift including a funny birthday card? This is the place to be. This small store is located in the city center of Utrecht and they sell the funniest and weirdest presents that put a smile on your face. Or even better: on the face of the birthday boy/girl.

It’s a present, Lijnmarkt 16.


2. Keck & Lisa

This is also a small store, located at the Zadelstraat near Mariaplaats. They sell the best gifts: from travel books till the cutest home decorations. You just want to buy everything.

Keck & Lisa, Zadelstraat 38.

3. Flying Tiger

You’ve probably already payed a visit to this amazing store. They have literally everything you need. Or things you didn’t think you needed, but hey, now you do. Wander through this store and you’ll find the perfect gift. Promise.

Flying Tiger, Oudegracht 118.

4. Beadies

If the person you need to buy a gift for is a girl, go to Beadies. Well, only if she really likes jewelry. They sell beautiful jewelry and accessories of good quality. Is she more into creating her own gems? Choose from all the different beads, chains, pendants, charms, stones and jewels to put together an original piece of jewelry.

Schermafbeelding 2018-01-26 om 19.42.47

Beadies, Oudegracht 193.

5. Sissy Boy

Sissy Boy sells clothes and beautiful stuff for your home. Or 12 square meter room. They have all sorts of decorations which will make your friend really happy. Plants, photo frames, candles, jewelry boxes, vases – you name it.

Sissy Boy, Oudegracht 124-126.

6. All the Luck in the World

This concept store will steal your heart: you can buy here the most beautiful necklaces, bracelets and other accessoires. And hopefully this gift will bring your friend ‘all the luck in the world’.

All the Luck in the World, Zadelstraat 15.

7. Things I Like Things I Love

Another concept store. You could never have enough of those. Beautiful clothes, pretty accessoires and cool interior items, that’s what they sell here. Literally all the things you like and love.

Things I Like Things I Love, Oudegracht 364.

Schermafbeelding 2018-01-26 om 20.07.01

8. Urban Outfitters

Not a very unknown brand, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be in this list. Urban Outfitters sells the coolest and quirkiest gear for your wardrobe, interior and overall lifestyle. And for your lucky friend, of course.

Urban Outfitters, Oudegracht 152-156.

9. Hema

Another famous store, but this place is as Dutch as you can get, so it needs to be in this list. Hema is the place you go for whatever it is you need. They. Have. Everything. That’s why finding a gift is an easy job around here.

Hema, Steenweg 59 (but there are many more).

10. Bijenkorf

Want a fancier gift? Go to the giant building of the Bijenkorf. You could wander around for hours and find a beautiful gift for your special someone. Especially during sales.

Bijenkorf, Sint Jacobsstraat 1A.


2018 bucket list for your stay in the Netherlands

First of all, the JoCo wishes you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR! Let’s make this year awesome!

Each year we say that we will start doing this or stop doing that. But let’s be honest, most of the time our big plans get dashed throughout the middle of January. That is why we came up with a bucket list for 2018, you really want to stick to!

Go to the Efteling

The Efteling is one of the oldest theme parks in the world. It is a fantasy themed park that features over 30 attractions spread throughout four different fantastical realms: Fairy, Adventure, Travel, and Alternative. Definitely worth a visit! 

See 8 windmills at one glance

The Zaanse Schans is famous worldwide for its eight historic windmills, which were built in the mid-to-late 16th century, and its 35 historical houses. You will even find the very first Albert Heijn among them! The attraction is easy to reach via public transport and free of entrance.

zaanse schans
ESN day trip to the Zaanse Schans in 2017

Explore Utrecht’s neighborhoods

Who says you have to go far to travel? Utrecht has way more to offer than the Oudegracht or the dom tower. So, take your camera and take a stroll through the different areas of Utrecht. You will find great cafes, restaurants, parks, street art and architecture all throughout the city! In the ESN Abroad magazine we are providing you with inside tips for each neighborhood. So check it out!

Go to an ESN cantus

Participating at a cantus is a Dutch student tradition you really don’t want to miss!  During this amazing night you will dressed up according to the theme, sing your favourite songs and drink like the Dutchies do! Afterwards you are going to have a great party at Poema! Sounds amazing right? Keep an eye on the dates on our ESN Utrecht Facebook page!
P.S. If you’re lucky, there might still be tickets available for next week’s Jungle Cantus!

Singing Lady Gaga at the ESN Halloween Cantus

Take a stroll through tulip fields

The Netherlands is famous for its tulip fields, especially those of the Keukenhof, which is the world’s second largest flower garden with approximately 7 million flower bulbs. It’s an incredible experience to walk through seemingly never ending flower fields and to discover all the different shaped and coloured tulips. The park is open each year from mid-March to mid-May.

Go ice skating

You probably already noticed that the Dutchies are crazy about their ice skating! They even have an event that is all about ice skating: De Elfstedentocht. With the help of ESN Utrecht you could tick of this point off your bucket list in no time! On the 10th of January, we will go to the indoor ice skating hall in Utrecht to have an amazing time on the ice. The best thing? The event is FOR FREE! So, head over to our FB page and hit that ‘going button’!


Go to a music festival

The Netherlands is known for its vivid music scene. There are many cool festivals, especially during the summer months, that belong on everyone’s bucket list. It doesn’t matter if you’re into house, techno, pop, rock, hip hop or indie – the perfect festival is out there! So, head over to this page to find your ideal match!

Celebrate King’s Day

On the 27th of April, the whole Netherlands is celebrating the birthday of King Willem Alexander’s birthday! During the day, people are allowed to sell things on the street without requiring a permit. Flea (‘free’) markets are held in parks and streets, with many people offering their unwanted possessions, music or other entertainment for sale. In Utrecht, the flea markets even start the night before King’s Day. So, put on some orange clothes and experience the Netherlands like never before!

Ever ask yourself where to take someone on a first date? Or how to impress your Dutch friends/crush with a funny saying?
The JoCo knows the answers!  So, keep an eye on our blog for more!

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

Gezegde engels nederlands

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

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

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

Here we go!

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

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

  1. “Make that the cat wise!”

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

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

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

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

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

  1. “Unfortunately peanutbutter, dude!”

(Too bad for you, dude)

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

(Now the secret has come out!”)

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

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

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

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

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

(Now we are in big trouble!”)

  1. “It walks out of the claws”

(It’s getting out of hands)

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

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

The Ultimate Christmas Playlist

I don’t want a lot for Christmas. There is just one thing I need…Christmas songs! Let’s be honest, we all hate and love them at the same time. But Christmas would simply not be the same without them! That’s why I came up with an ultimate Christmas playlist, including some all-time favourites but also some fresh tunes. So, turn up the volume and make sure you have enough space to dance because it’s time for some JINGLE BELL ROCK!


Fun Facts about Christmas Songs

Before I give away the playlist, I need to tell you about some hidden, fun facts concerning you favourite Christmas songs. Believe us, you would have never, NEVER imagined what we are about to share with you…

  1. “Jingle Bells” was the first song to be broadcast from space, as Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sang the song as a Christmas prank in December of 1965 after they told NASA, “We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, probably in polar orbit… I see a command module and eight smaller modules in front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit….”
    True (Christmas) legends!
  2. ‘White Christmas’ is the best-selling single of all time. Yes, you read it right. Not Micheal Jackson, not Justin Bieber, NO it is Bing Crosby’s version of “White Christmas”, which is  with over 100 million sold copies the highest-selling single of all time.
  3. During the WWI Christmas Truce of 1914, German, English and French troops sang “Silent Night” together because it was the only carol that everyone on the front lines knew the lyrics to. The song has been translated in about 140 languages!
  4. “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” is one of the oldest Christmas songs, originating in 16th century England.
  5. In Britain, the best-selling festive single is Band Aid’s 1984 track ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’, which sold 3.5million copies. Wham! is next in the same year with Last Christmas, selling 1.4million.


The Playlist

The list of Christmas carols is endless. Here are our Top 24 (see what we are doing here?!):

  1. All I want for Christmas is You – Mariah Carey
  2. Last Christmas – Wham!
  3. Hallelujah – Pentatonix (Their Christmas album is insane!)
  4. Santa bring My Baby Back (To Me) – Elvis Presley
  5. It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas – Michael Buble (also known as ‘The King of Christmas’)
  6. Santa’s Coming For Us – Sia
  7. You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch – Thurl Ravenscroft
  8. Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid 30
  9. Thank God It’s Christmas – Queen
  10. Feliz Navidad – Jose Feliciano
  11. Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Sam Smith
  12. A New York Christmas – Rob Thomas
  13. Man With the Bag – Jessy J
  14. Jingle Bells – Michael Buble
  15. Mistletoe – Justin Bieber
  16. Jingle Bell Rock – Daryl Hall & John Oates
  17. Shake Up Christmas – Train
  18. Christmas Lights – Coldplay
  19. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Dean Martin
  20. Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town – Frank Sinatra
  21. Driving Home for Christmas – Chris Rea
  22. White Christmas – Bing Crosby
  23. Happy Xmas (War is Over) – John Lennon
  24. Baby It’s Cold Outside – Idina Menzel & Michael Buble

You can find the whole playlist with many more songs here

Obviously, there are many many more Christmas songs out there. So, if your favourite songs isn’t on our list yet please let us know in the comments! There are never enough Christmas songs.

Utrecht has a lot to offer during December, including Christmas markets, ice-skating and many more festive things. For more details have a look at our festive agenda.

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!

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!

3 must-run routes in Utrecht

Sometimes all you need is some fresh air and green space around you. So what’s a better way than putting on your running shoes and enjoying all what Utrecht’s got to offer? The best way to discover is to run around and see with your own eyes that there are other parts of the town besides the busy city centre. It is after all nicest to run somewhere where you aren’t bothered by cyclists and walkers. We found out the best places in Utrecht to run!

City centre – Singel route

A classic running route in Utrecht is the so-called Singel route. This route leads you around the historical city centre through a green area along the canals. The sandy paths are easy to run on and with 5K this route is perfect when you’re a newbie runner. Another nice advantage of this route is that it’s actually a round, so no running the same route again on your way back. Start at a point which is close to your house and keep your eyes open on this route, because there’s plenty to see!


Uithof – Round Fort Rhijnauwen

If you live at the Uithof and you love running you’ve got an easy life, because you live in the middle of a green area! When you head towards the direction of the small town Zeist, you’ll find a big historical area of natural beauty. This route evolves around the historical Fort Rhijnauwen. The fortress was built in the 19th century as a part of the Hollandic Water Line. This series of water-based defences could be used to transform the provinces of Holland and Utrecht almost into an island as an excellent form of defence against enemy troops. Nowadays the old fort has been renovated and the area forms a perfect spot for running and relaxing. This route is only about 4K long, but if you want to extend the route the area offers plenty of opportunities.

uithof hardlopen

Overvecht – Along the Vecht

Another beautiful area is to be found on the eastside of town, so this route is ideal if you live at Tuindorp West Complex or in Overvecht. Over here the Vecht river, which later transforms into the Oude Gracht, meanders through the flat and green landscape. Along the Vecht is a nice sandy path with many houseboats. Salient detail; the houseboats used to be the red-light district of Utrecht until July 2013. Nowadays the path is perfect for running and walking your dog.

When you follow the path all the way to the small town Oud-Zuilen, you will run across two historical buildings: Fort aan de Klop and Slot Zuylen. Fort aan de Klop is another fortress part of the Hollandic Water Line, but Slot Zuylen was already built in the 16th century and knows a long history. This route is for the somewhat more experienced runner since it counts about 15K, but it’s definitely worth training for!

route vecht

So where are you waiting for? Put on your running shoes and go!

Survive your internship with these 5 tips

A long, long time ago, the grass was still green and the skies were still blue. Studying just meant sleeping in and chilling and you had no idea what it would be like to do an internship. Well now you know, and you wish you never did. And although internships can be hard, especially in the beginning, here are some tips on how to get through your internship period.


1. Don’t stay up too late

This one might almost seem too obvious, but it is crucial! For you to wake up early every day of the week and drag yourself into the office, you must have had a good night sleep. So don’t stay up until midnight watching all those Netflix series – we know it’s tempting, but try to at least get 8 hours of sleep a night. Not only will it be a lot easier to wake up in the morning, but you will also feel better during the day. Sleep deprivation can cause a lack of concentration and headaches,but, in the worst-case scenario, it can lead to obesity, hallucinations and depression. So, don’t take sleep lightly, and hit the sack early!


2. Coffee is your friend, but don’t overdo it

Speaking of concentration issues and tiredness, coffee may seem like an easy fix after a short night’s sleep. But mind you, although coffee will temporarily make you feel more awake and focused, too much caffeine is actually bad for you! It is advised to only have up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, which is the equivalent of roughly four cups of coffee. You can safely enjoy a good cup of coffee in the morning and one after lunch, just don’t keep running to the coffee corner all day long 😉 Instead, have some tea or water!


3. Prepare yourself!

As with a lot of difficult things, preparation is key! Waking up 5 minutes before you need to leave your house will cause you lots of stress in the morning, and you will probably be late more than once. To avoid stressing out in the morning, wake up in time. Also, try to prepare everything you can the night before. Make your sandwiches, pack your bag and maybe even lay down your clothes for the next day, so that when you wake up, you’re almost good to go!


4. Relaxation is vital

Everyone who has ever done an internship knows that it is a lot of hard work and might cause you quite some stress. It is therefore super important to make sure you get the relaxation you need! Don’t crowd your agenda every night with parties, dinners and other activities – instead, also plan nights off. Chill, read a book or do whatever you do to clear your mind and rest. Try to avoid computer or tv screens, because blue-light emitting devices have a negative effect on your sleep! And after all, no one can go without their beauty sleep.


5. Learn as much as you can

The internship-filled weeks and months ahead may seem endless, but believe me when I say that time flies and it will be over before you know it. Internships might be tiring and hard work, but they are also the perfect opportunity to get to know the workplace and your chosen profession. Instead of slacking off, try to learn as much as you can every day. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because that’s the only way you can learn new things. 


Hopefully these tips will help you to make the most of your internship and learn as much as you can. What are your survival tips for fellow interns? Leave a comment below!

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