This is why I love the Netherlands
It’s flat, it’s windy, the weather is very unpredictable, and people can be blunt. But there's also the bikes, a great vibe, and multiculturalism. See the Netherlands through the eyes of an international Erasmus University student. This is what Laisvyda Andrejevaite from Lithuania loves about this country.
‘I don’t really know what it’s like in the other cities, but in Rotterdam the wind is just spectacular. Have you ever felt your face nearly being peeled off your head? No? Well I have, and it’s pretty damn nice. Just one thought I have every day: can’t the wind just blow from behind while I’m cycling? Just this once, so I can have a rest from this constant physical fight with nature. But the best part is that when it’s 30 degrees outside – which, let’s be honest, is pretty rare – the wind suddenly disappears, and then you are stuck in hell with sweat dripping from every part of your body. What’s there not to love?’
‘Biking in this country is actually an amazingly developed and convenient thing. We all know the benefits of cycling, but not everyone knows how majestic Dutch people are at it. One of my first days here I saw a lady on a bike with an umbrella in one hand and a cigarette in another: how awesome is that? It makes me realise which goals in life are really worth achieving, haha.’
‘It’s pretty hard to surprise me with being direct as I already consider myself painfully straightforward. Still, Dutch people are just a whole new level. It’s directness smoothly becoming rudeness, and I love it because I know people are not intentionally mean. It’s just that when they translate their Dutch expressions into English it comes out way too strong.
One of my most recent experiences regarding this was extremely entertaining. I didn’t have any food at home to make my friend some breakfast. His response was: "Well, you don’t look like a person who doesn’t have any food *wink wink*". It took him a split second to realise what he just said and starts apologising, but it’s already out and it’s there. I couldn’t even react as I normally would with scares of physical violence because it was so unexpected. But in the end I just find it funny how people not purposely are very much mean.’
‘This might seem like the opposite of what I said before. Dutch people are overall raw. That’s why they don’t hesitate to throw you a compliment, to say “hi” in an elevator, or to take a spider out of your hair. I’ve never encountered random people being so nice and ‘wall-less’ until I came to Holland. It makes you become a more open person yourself. For example, I now constantly engage in random conversations, which usually start when I tell a person that his or her pants have a thread on them or that there’s some chocolate left on a person’s face.’
‘From what I’ve heard, people usually hate that this country is so flat. They want hills, majestic views, etc. As I’m not a huge fan of nature, hills don’t touch my heart and I really appreciate the flat surfaces we have here. Just imagine what biking would be if we constantly had to cycle up and down. I already have a lot of trouble fighting with the bridges of this city, so I don’t even want to start imagining what it would be like having steep paths.’
‘This is probably what Rotterdam is famous for: having a wide range of ethnicities. As an international student I’m mostly surrounded by non-Dutch people, but even when I’m not with my course mates, everywhere I go I hear a bunch of different languages. People don’t even know anymore if you’re talking English because you want to or because you don’t speak Dutch. I like it. Being surrounded by so many different people makes you more open-minded since you encounter something unseen every day. And that’s one of the reasons I am here.’
‘When people ask me why I’m in Holland and what I find so cool about it, my first answer is: the vibe. This is something I can’t verbalise but it shows in a lot of things. Nobody cares if you wear a garbage bag. As long as you’re happy and not harming anyone, you’re good to go and nobody gives a damn.
One of my favourite activities here is singing while cycling. And while I wouldn’t let myself sing anywhere besides my shower in Lithuania, in Holland nobody cares or at least nobody gets angry. Of course the vibe wouldn’t be what it is without the people around me. Meeting so many amazing, free people is a very beautiful thing. Just this past weekend I was at a party and afterwards I couldn’t stop thinking: how is it possible to collect such a random group of people and have so much fun? I don’t know if that was an influence of substance or a genuinely amazing company, but the fact is that the majority of the people are just sincerely kind-hearted and welcoming.’
The EUR international office asked some international students to be their bloggers and vloggers and to show others the Netherlands and campus life in Rotterdam through their eyes. Meet the other bloggers and vloggers here.