Let's be honest, the Dutch don’t really have what is known as a 'cuisine'. We don’t have pizza like the Italians, or currywurst like the Germans. But that's more than okay, because what we are known for, is being international and versatile. Wherever you're from in this world, there is most probably a place in the Netherlands that serves the dishes from home. Whether you're looking for your Belgian fries or tasty Argentinean steak, you should find it here. The Netherlands likes to experiment with different flavors and that guarantees that if you head to the big (but also small) cities, you will be overwhelmed with many delicious food choices. English breakfast? Sure. Sushi for lunch? Alright. Greek grill for dinner? Let's go! Make an adventure out of it and try finding a place that makes the food (almost) as good as home. Let us know in the comments if you've done so and where! 

So, the Netherlands really has no food that is typically from here? No matter how international we are, there are of course a couple meals and snacks that we Dutchies love to eat, and eat, and eat!

1. Poffertjes 

Tiny, fluffy pancakes? Yes please! Poffertjes are a popular snack amongst the Dutch, especially during the colder days. Easy to make if you have the right bake shape, and very good for a quick, fun meal with friends. Add some powder sugar or syrup and you're good to go. Want to make your own? That is also possible. Every supermarket sells either the mixture pack for those who are interested, but you can always try to make it from scratch. Just google the recipe, it's quite simple! 

2. Stampot & potatoes 

Can we truly say we're Dutch if we don’t L-O-V-E potatoes? Most of us are crazy about this starch and incorporate in as many meals as possible. Boiled potatoes, baked potatoes, fried potatoes, oven potatoes, and one of the best, stampot! Stampot, aka mashed potatoes, is one of the favored winter dishes amongst us. In many different forms and easy to make, it is a meal that ends up on the table frequently. Add some kale, some carrots, or peas, then drown it in gravy, and add a nice (vegan) sausage to the side, et voila! If you like to survive the cold winter days just like the Dutch do, this is the meal you should make! 

3. Dutch snackssss 

The chances of you walking past this spectacular thing and not having seen it, would be a rarity. We are talking of course about the "snack wall". The Dutch like their fried snacks, be it a kaassouffle, kroket, or frikadel, and they surely dont make it difficult to get your hands on them. Perfect for those who are craving something quick, there is this snack wall. Usually found in or around a snack bar, there is a wall that has these snacks ready to go. Just throw in the required amount of cash or even pay by card and the door to your picked snack will open. 

4. Fries galore 

We've already established that we Dutch can't get enough of our fried snacks and potatoes and therefore fries are no exception. One characteristic of eating fries on the go or at a snack bar is to lather it up with sauce. Mayonnaise is by far the most commonly ordered sauce for on fries. In Dutch, all we need to say is "frietje met”, in the Southern part of the country, or “patatje met” in other parts, which translates to "fries with", and they will hand you your fries covered in mayonnaise. But that's not the only option. There is ketchup, curry (not like Indian curry, but a more herbal ketchup), samurai, sage sauce, and onions. Something you could try is called "patatje oorlog" aka "war fries" which is a nice combination of peanut sauce and onions on your fries. Explore the options, as there are many! 

5. Stroopwafels & dropjes 

The cliche snacks people think of when they hear the Netherlands are stroopwafels and licorice. Even though the popularity drops for licorice, it's one of the main things you can find in the candy isle of your grocery store. They come salty or sweet and in many different flavors. Worth to try or gift it to your family members. The same goes for stroopwafels, which literally means syrup waffle. In this case the waffle syrup is solid inbetween two small thin waffles. Very tasty to dip in coffee or a hot chocolate or eat it by itself. 

6. Breaaaad. Every. Meal. Of. The. Day. 

Last but not least, were known to be eating bread for most of our daily meals. Both breakfast and lunch consists mostly of some sandwiches with butter and cheese, ham, peanut butter or chocolate paste. Real simple but easy to make and easy to eat. We have gotten many question marks from people who figure out we eat sandwiches all the time, but if you like a cheap but filling meal during the day, that's the way to go! #studenthack 

Tosti's are another big thing here, which is a warm version of our sandwich meal, where the cheese and ham melt together with the toasted bread. It is highly suggested to make your own or go and get some at a nice lunch place. 

Alright, all the stereotypes aside, it is safe to say that the Netherlands at first sight doesn't have anything new to offer other than your cuisines from home. But once you start digging, you'll realize theres a few quirky facts about what we like to eat, and we recommend you to try all of them yourself while being here abroad!

Eet smakelijk alvast!

 

Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Utrecht. These are all the typical, touristic places that you will most likely visit during your experience abroad or trip to the Netherlands. However, the country is small, but it has so much more to offer than these big cities. For example, there are smaller cities like Delft, Breda or Tilburg that are worth a visit. But wait. Wait, waaaaait! There is more! In this blog post, we will focus on the hidden places in the Netherlands, so that (when you have time) you can go to one of these spots and discover the true gems that the country holds.

 

1. Leeuwarden

 



Far up in the north, there is a little city called Leeuwarden. It is not really a hidden place in the Netherlands, as it is the capital of Friesland (one of the provinces), but it not as known as other cities. Therefore, a small piece about this lovely city. Leeuwarden is known for his history. In 1435, the city received its city rights. Due to its placing, which was right along the Middelzee river, Leeuwarden became an important trade center. Unfortunately, the river become clogged soon after and the trade dropped off. Also, at one point, Leeuwarden counted 130 (!) windmills. Nowadays, the Froskepolemolen windmill is the only one that is still completely structured and standing.

Leeuwarden is also focusing on the future. In 2018, it was the European Capital of Culture. During this period, many different cultural activities were organized by the local community. Examples were exhibitions of the Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher, a contest of the national sport of Friesland, which is called Fierljeppen (canal vault) or the explanation of the story of Mata Hari.

Leeuwarden has a lot to offer to its visitor. Whether you would like to visit a museum, like the Dutch Ceramic Museum or the Fries Natuurmuseum, learn about the history of the city or take a canal tour; Leeuwarden has it all. Oh, and did you know that one of our lovely sections is located in this city? ESN Leeuwarden would be more than happy to guide you around their hometown!

2. Pyramid of Austerlitz

 



A pyramid in the Netherlands? Impossible? No, there is actually one. The 36 meter high, in grass covered pyramid was built by the soldiers of Napoleon in 1804 and can be found close to Utrecht, in the Heuvelrug National Park. It was built to honor the victories of Napolean, but also because his soldiers were bored and he had to keep them busy with some tasks. Inspired by the pyramids of Giza, after 27 days of building, Mont Marmont was born. After a while, when Louis Bonaparte become monarch of the Kingdom of Holland, Mont Marmont was renamed to Pyramid of Austerlitz to honor the greatest victory of Napoleon, the battle of Austerlitz (1805).

Nowadays, visitors can climb the pyramid to have a stunning view over the flat country, visit a small exhibition about the French Period of the Netherlands, or walk and bike around in the park!

3. Saint Peter’s Caves

 



From the north, to the middle, to the south. In the southern part of the Netherlands, we can find the caves of Saint Peter, which are located near to Maastricht. About 1,000 years ago, miners started to excavate the mountain, as it is made of limestone, which can be used as building material. The excavation resulted in a 80 kilometers long tunnel that now can be visited with a tour guide. These tours will take you along the dome and the Gothic hallway of the caves and the guides will explain you everything about the history of them.

If you are not afraid of the dark, and do not mind the cold, the caves are definitely worth a visit!

This was the first part of Hidden Places in the Netherlands. Were you already familiar with them, or did you just discover the existence of these places? Are you planning to take the train to the capital of Friesland? Or are you more the daredevil type that will visit the caves of Saint Peter? Let us know!


References


Photo Saint Peter Caves: Marc van der Chijs

 

http://www.netherlands-tourism.com/leeuwarden/

https://www.groningenlife.nl/en/blogs/dilyana/leeuwarden-the-european-capital-of-culture-2018

https://heavenly-holland.com/pyramid-austerlitz/

https://www.holland.com/global/tourism/destinations/maastricht/caves-of-...

We see you, swooning over your textbook trying to cram the information in your brain while your friends are off partying and visiting beautiful places. An exchange can be extremely fun, but ultimately, you are also here to pass your semester. We know studying can be really tricky when there is so much else to do and see, but we have got some tips and tricks we do love to share with you that have helped us along the way.

1. You are not alone (I am here with you!).
Here in the Netherlands, pretty much all students have their exams and assignment deadlines around the same time, no matter the course. Keep in mind that after a few days or weeks with your head in the books, you and your friends can get back to partying, traveling, and all else you like to do in your free time. The key to staying motivated is to remind yourself that everyone else is going through the same, and they are (most of them) manging to do so, just like you!

2. Learn to rid yourself of distractions.
Nowadays, we are active 24/7. With our ever-buzzing phones in our pocket, we constantly satisfy our brains with new waves of dopamine. Distraction is like a drug; we are ever craving more and more. The constant sounds from your devices keep you distracted from that what you need to focus on, finishing that assignment or studying for that test. So, mute those notifications and let your friends' messages be the reward once you have finished. Another factor of distractions could be your environment. When you know that studying at home is going to result in you laying on your bed scrolling through Instagram, do not study at home! Get to the nearest library or cafe where other people are focussed on their own work to stay focussed. In case sitting in public spaces or studying together is not helping you focus on your work, head to an area where you can be alone, just you, your books, and laptop.

3. Get yourself a motivator and reward.
Sometimes all you need is someone giving you that extra push to get to work. Whether it is your friend, your boyfriend, your mom, having someone tell you to study and check up on your progress later is an incentive to get to work. You will realise that it will feel just like in high school when you had to finish an assignment in a set amount of time during class. This encourages you to focus on your work to be able to show what you promised to your motivator. Next to that, if you have done what you promised your motivator and yourself, make sure to give yourself a reward after. Being focussed for a long period of time calls for some relaxation so get together with friends or order in, do whatever that gives you a satisfactory feeling besides the relief of your finished work of the day.

4. Plan it out and colour code.
When thinking of all the things mentioned above, it is important to know what you will be working on every day. A planner can really help with giving you an overview of that what needs to be done and before when. You know best how much you can do in a day so plan accordingly. If you know that you are usually a last-minute worker, then this is especially crucial for you to do. You can use colours or anything that highlights and separates your different tasks to stay more organized. We know all about having many different courses and therefore many different assignments. Writing all of them down and separating them will guarantee to give you a better sight of what you need to do. Your teachers will be proud. Now use all the other tips to actually get it done!

5. Find a method that works best for you.
There are many tips & tricks for studying, staying concentrated, and so on, but it is eventually up to you to figure out what works and what does not. Try writing out summaries by hand instead of on a computer or vice versa. Try study cards or make a memory game out of your material. Making something creative out of your studying or concentration game will allow you to figure out what helps you reach your goal!

We wish you very good luck with the exam period, try not to get too distracted! Afterwards we hope you will get to cheers to good grades you worked so hard for! #GetToStudying #ErasmusStudy

Let it rain, let it rain! Welcome to fall; a period of many clouds, much rain, yellow and orange leaves, and a crazy amount of hot drinks. At plenty of places on earth fall is known for those particular traits, but in the Netherlands it is mostly characterised by the rain. You will see many people switch to taking their cars to work, but the majority of students will still hop on their bicycles, even when weather is bad (but hey, do we have another choice?). And how to survive this rainy and grey period in this small country? Well, we have got the perfect survival guide just for you!

1. Behold, your armor for the wet and cold; the rainsuit.

A rainsuit might make you feel a bit clumsy and it is not the most stylish piece of clothing, but it will save you from sitting completely soaked in class the whole day. Brands such as H&M and Zara tend to include more rubber in their fall collections, attempting to make the raincoat or suit a bit more fashionable. But, at the end of the day, no one will be paying attention to what you are wearing in this type of weather, so a simple Hema raincoat or online poncho will suffice. 

2. Cozy up!

As the weather gets wet and cold, it calls to get cozy. Get together with your friends indoors, whether that be at a restaurant, cafe, or home. There is nothing better than being in a warm environment, while it is pouring outside. Grab a movie, or some drinks, and enjoy each others company. During fall, many indoor areas such as the cinema and cafes will have special deals, many for students. And even though were not specifically known for a hot drink, there will be plenty of places where you can grab the popular pumpkin spice latte or cappuccino to warm up. Sounds quite 'gezellig', not?

3. Taste the season. 

When it comes to fall food, the Dutch whip out one of their favorites; stampot, which literally means "a mashed dish". If you are unfamiliar with the preparation and prefer not to try making it alone, grab one of your Dutchies and make it together. This dish can be very versatile. Usually the main ingredient is mashed potatoes and that can be combined with anything else. Carrots, kale, cauliflower, you name it. After mixing it all together, you can add some milk, cheese, and a sausage, and voila, you have got your own Stampot. During the colder times in the Netherlands, such as fall and winter, this tasty dish gets made pretty frequently. Beware, that it is known as a home-made dish, so ordering it at a restuarant would be a rarity. And what better sounds better than cozying up with your friends and making some stampot?

4. Head out.

If you enjoy being outside, this could be an interesting paragraph for you. As the days become shorter, and the layers of clothes become more, there are just a few people who like to head out during those days. We know how comfortable it is, to sit on your couch with a nice cup of tea, but we most certainly advice you to also go explore the country. Many cities turn into a beautiful, lit up place where you can roam around and take mesmerizing pictures. Keep an eye on Tripadvisor for the best fall recommendations when heading out. Maybe you can try some Bossche Bollen in Den Bosch, or some hot chocolate in a fancy cafe in Amsterdam. Or even go to one of the many forests that it has to offer. Believe us, it is worth the adventure!

Whatever you will like to do in the fall, we advice you to enjoy the weather (and the rain!) and the colourful environment here in the Netherlands. Fijne herfst!

 

Many of you have already gotten a taste of what the Netherlands is; wet, small, cozy, our shops close at 6PM, there are many cows, and we eat sandwiches for lunch. These characteristics are the ones you see when you scratch just the surface. But even though the Netherlands might be small, it has much to offer, especially for an Erasmus/international students like you! 

Let’s start with a little bit of history. The Netherlands technically means ‘lower lands’ as about 26% of our country is below sea level (PBL, n.d.). We have been battling the seas for years, which ultimately also made us great seafaring people. Many know that we have got a rich history when it comes to sailing across the seas. Other than battling the water, the Netherlands today is much different than the Netherlands from ages ago. Our small western European country has become immensely popular amongst foreign people. Many like to travel our cities and go and watch the Northern sea. 

But not only travellers come seek our country. Over the last few years, the amount of international students coming to the Netherlands for their exchange, masters, or full bachelor degree has immensely increased. In 2018, we had about 90.000 international students studying here country wide according to Nuffic (2019). This guarantees that you will never go through your experience of living abroad alone! The Netherlands has always been very diverse when it comes to cultures, but the many international students like yourself only make our country more fruitful. In an ever-globalizing world, the Netherlands is one of the top runners when it comes to international education (Expatica, 2019). Other than internationally recognized degrees, many English taught courses, and innovative teaching methods, this is the place to be, so you chose right! 

Now let’s dive into some of the more interesting facts about your new home. As mentioned before, the size of a country does not equal how interesting it is. The Netherlands has some pretty quirky facts if you pay attention. 

1. We have the tallest people in the world. 

You have probably already met twenty of them during your stay, the Dutch giants. Statistics show that the Netherlands has the tallest people, both men and women, in the world. According to Smith (2017), the average is roughly 1,84 for men and 1,70 for women. Some dare say it is to keep our heads above water and others say it is due to all the dairy we consume. Even though some of them might be a bit taller than you, we can confirm that even though they can be very straightforward and blunt, the Dutch are very friendly.

2. We consume the most liquorice in the world.

Next to our famous stroopwafels, the Dutch are all about what we call ‘drop’. Yearly we consume about 30 million kilos (!). Liquorice comes in many different varieties and not every single one’s loved by everyone. If you have not tasted this sweet or sour candy yet, we suggest trying it, and do not give up on the first one, there might be a flavour in there that you like. 

3. We were the first to legalize same-sex marriage. 

In April 2001, The Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. The Netherlands has a generally tolerant attitude to LGBTQI+ people. During regular times, you will not notice anything extravagant organized but around times such as the pride month, the Netherlands changes its colours to those of a rainbow. Here, everyone gets to be who they want to be. 

4. There are more bicycles than people here. 

You are either dreading or loving it that you most definitely need to buy and ride a bike here on your study abroad. For the Dutch, bikes are from cradle to grave. We start at a very young age and during life upgrade to a few bigger or more modern versions, but bikes are a must. It is the most used form of transportation for people of all ages. Do not be afraid to head out by bike, but do make sure that you know the traffic rules. As bikes are so immensely popular amongst our people, there are certain rules specially for cyclists such as not being on your phone when cycling!

5. The Netherlands has 18 ESN sections.

If you are an Erasmus student, you surely have heard of ESN, Erasmus Student Network. This organization helps Erasmus, and International students in their new home country by organizing different activities and help them where needed. With the help of all volunteers, ESN makes the experience of these students, unforgettable. And did you know that ESN The Netherlands consist of 18 lovely sections. Here they come:
ESN BredaESN DelftESN GroningenESN INHolland DiemenESN INHolland HaarlemESN Inholland RotterdamESN LeeuwardenESN NijmegenESN RotterdamESN The HagueESN TwenteESN UtrechtESN VU AmsterdamESN WageningenISN AmsterdamISN LeidenISN Maastricht and I*ESN Tilburg!


We wish you a very great stay here in our small country and encourage you to seek out many more quirky facts that make the Netherlands as interesting as it is. Go explore, head to the North, head to the sea, taste the food, and meet the people. Explore as much as you can and let us know through our channels what you have encountered! 

References:
Business photo created by Kireyonok_Yuliya
Expatica. (2019, August 20). Study in the Netherlands: A guide to Dutch universities - Expat Guide to The Netherlands | Expatica. Retrieved from https://www.expatica.com/nl/education/higher-education/study-in-the-netherlands-a-guide-to-dutch-universities-104928/
Nuffic. (2019, March 29). Nuffic publiceert nieuwe cijfers internationale studenten. Retrieved from https://www.nuffic.nl/actueel/nuffic-publiceert-nieuwe-cijfers-internationale-studenten/
PBL. (n.d.). Correctie formulering over overstromingsrisico Nederland in IPCC-rapport - PBL Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving. Retrieved from https://www.pbl.nl/dossiers/klimaatverandering/content/correctie-formulering-over-overstromomgsrisico
Smith, O. (2017, August 6). Mapped: The world’s tallest (and shortest) countries [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/maps-and-graphics/the-tallest-and-shortest-countries-in-the-world/