31/12/2017

The Dutch Tales #3: Strange things Dutch people do

#1: Eating bread (all - the - time)

Let's start with this innocent cultural difference - if you come from literally anywhere in the world except from the Netherlands, you might be really surprised how much pastry is consumed in the lowlands. What's more, they enjoy sandwiches with literally anything for lunch. Personally I find this very convenient, but I can imagine this being a little hard to adjust to, especially for fellow Slavs being used to heavy warm lunches.

#2: Hagelslag

Speaking of putting anything on your bread, the finest Dutch invention would be hagelslag. Putting chocolate sprinkles on a bread might seem really strange, but it somehow works. Thanks to the Dutch dedication, you can find a generous shelf space in every supermarket, dedicated to hagelslag of different shapes, sizes and colours. What a time to be alive!

#3: Swearing with diseases

This one is pretty self explanatory I guess. The Dutch have no shame - if you make them angry, they will wish you cancer (or any other deadly disease that you can think of). What a lovely bunch, huh? However, within almost half a year of living in the Netherlands I still haven't managed to anger anyone so much that they would wish me a deadly disease. They do have a pretty dark humor too though, but that's a whole another story.

#4: Having a word for everything

People say that it is the Germans who have a word for everything, but I personally think it's the Dutchies who run the world in this area. You might have heard of the 100 different Dutch words for rain, but that's just a top of the iceberg. Leaving aside the tons of words that the Dutch have to describe literally any phase of a relationship, there is also a word for a traffic accident in which at least one of the parties was on their phone. By the way, this word was recently voted to be the word of the year - yup, that's a thing. This word, 'appongeluk', is joining the finest selection of words with the "word of the year" title, like for example 'swaffelen'. I will let you google this one at your own risk...

#5: Vending machines fast food

In case you are not familiar with typical Dutch food, let me give you a short heads up: these people LOVE deep fried stuff. I am talking fries, croquettes, sort of meatballs (bitterballen) and basically anything that can be deep fried. And when we all thought fast food cannot get any better, the Dutch came up with a way to purchase it without actually having to talk to people. For an euro or two you can get any of the above mentioned Dutch perfections. If you like your food with a little mystery, you're gonna love these as noone really knows how long the food has been there.

#6: Biercantus

The best for the last - in case you have never heard of biercantus (or beer cantus), explaining what it is will probably be pointless, it has to be experienced. It is basically nothing more than singing and drinking beer (lots of beer to be precise). But joined together, accompanied by a live band and good friends, it turns into the best thing that you can possibly experience. Biercantus is organised all over the Netherlands and even in some other countries, but Brabant and especially Tilburg is where the real deal happens. Every student club has its own cantus, even the university organises one and on top of it all there is TOP cantus before every semester, where the number of participants goes to thousand(s). People in here simply know how to party!

05/11/2017

The Dutch Tales #2: Living the library life

As promised last time, the next article will be about universities. Let me start with a bit of a disclaimer by specifying that this article compares only the universities and programs that I personally studied, which is the Czech-taught version of the program International Trade at the University of Economics in Prague and the Msc program Marketing Management at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. Yes it's a bit dumb to compare a bachelors to the masters but hey let's just deal with it, okay?

For those of you who haven't heard of Tilburg nor the university before (I feel you, I really do) it's located in a province called North Brabant, roughly 20 minutes away from Eindhoven (now that does ring a bell, doesn't it?!). According to Wikipedia Tilburg is the SIXTH biggest city in the Netherlands - shocking, I know. In case you're really into football (or for my beloved American friends: soccer) you might have heard of Willem II, Tilburg's very own football club that I'm yet to see play live. Everyone says that the city is not nice - for the Dutch matters - but don't believe them! I am deeply in love with Tilburg and I think it's the second most beautiful city in the world (after Prague obvi). But back to the university - personally I think it's simply awesome but to support my claim with some facts, it was recently ranked the 3rd best university in the Netherlands in the Elsevier Beste Studies ranking, woo! (I don't mean to brag, but my program was selected the best of its kind, yay!)

22/10/2017

The Dutch Tales #1: Sorry, I don't speak bicycle

This week the first “unit” of my masters in the Netherlands ended and so I guess it’s about time to start writing down the impressions about my new home. Even though you most likely won’t experience a culture shock if you’re moving to a place reachable within two hours by a plane from your home country, you will always encounter differences and bump into things that surprise you. But that’s fine - or what’s more it’s actually amazing!

You get to learn about the country that you’re in even when you expect it the least - like for example while grocery shopping. I have been spending ages in supermarkets even when I only need a bread, because I am simply fascinated by some of the stuff they sell. I have learned that the Dutch love their carton boxes - back home we put milk in them and that’s kind of it, but here… Here they put everything in them! They have a box with 1 litre of yoghurt of any flavour you could possibly think of and as if that isn’t enough, you can even buy sugar in a carton box! Not gonna lie though, I do find that pretty handy. :)

The university logo "sculpture" on campus and a throwback to when I still had blonde-ish hair and my Asia tan.