In such a short period of time, I have really come to enjoy and love Holland. With all the amazing traveling I have been #blessed to do while I’ve been here I have been lucky enough to visit some of the greatest cities in the world. I will never forget the rich history and unique culture of Berlin, the waffles and French fries of Belgium, the spirited atmosphere of Prague in the sun, or the beautiful architecture of Budapest. And yet, despite this nothing has felt as comfortable as Holland. Admittedly, I am biased, as I obviously have had time to adjust to the culture and customs here. But I can honestly say that I would love to live here again when I am older. So, with my time in Rotterdam coming to an end, I thought I would reflect on some of the things I have grown to love while here…as well as some things I don’t think I will ever get used to.
Some of my favorite things about the Netherlands:
- The food!
If you were unable to tell from some of my previous posts, food means a lot to me. While Dutch food is not known for its great cuisine, I have definitely come to discover and appreciate some of its culinary offerings. To sum up some of my favorite things: being able to find fresh mint tea everywhere you go, the rich coffee here (and the equally rich “koffiemelk” to go with it), stroopwafels and poffertjes (the Dutch desert versions of waffles and pancakes!), and amazing Indonesian/Surinamese food. And of course … Has Doner Kebab.
I have also really come to appreciate what may be the greatest and easiest nation-wide public transportation system in the world. One reloadable card for every form of transportation to anywhere in the country, consistent check in and out systems, and an effortless app that helps you get from point A to point B… if only I could travel around the States with such ease!
- The truly unique architecture of Rotterdam.
Although not known to be a touristy city, Rotterdam has its own sense of cool. When I first got here, it was almost a little disappointing – there was no sense of the European, old-world feel which I was looking forward to during my time here. In that sense, Rotterdam may feel like just another city. But I have come to appreciate its funk and realize its own uniqueness – here, no two buildings look alike and in a 100-foot radius you could see some of the coolest and craziest architecture in the world. Plus, without the tourists, Rotterdam is all ours and without the crazy prices in Amsterdam!
- The way people here respond “of course!” to nearly every yes or no question. It is really a simple thing, but you have to appreciate the sentiment.
Now for some things I don’t think I will ever get used to:
- Water- related issues
One thing I really dislike about life in the Netherlands is that despite the fact that the country has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world, you can never order tap water at a restaurant. Nine times out of ten, you have to pay for a bottle instead, which usually ends up being small and often more expensive than a soda or beer. What is the point of that? And on that note… the complete and utter lack of ice. Ice is the greatest thing to happen to cold drinks and I will always feel its absence.
- Tiny, windy staircases
…that make you feel like it is only a matter of time before you fall to your impending doom every time you walk up or down them. Death by stair is not the way I want to go out.
Although my exchange “buddy” and other Dutch students have expressed their merits, I don’t think I will ever adapt to these fried sticks/balls of mystery meat. Sorry, Sophie.
- And the last thing:
Frigid-cold ice water that comes pumping out of the sink every time you wash your hand that make you feel like your hands will turn into icicles right then and there. Where is the hot water handle??
Despite these tragedies of the Dutch lifestyle, Holland (and Rotterdam) is still a pretty cool place to be. Okay fine – admittedly, these complaints are not the biggest issues in the world. The pros in the Netherlands still far outweigh the cons, so for that I give it two thumbs up.