When people ask me why I chose The Netherlands as my place of studies I jokingly say that I like rain a lot – Joke’s on them, I am telling the truth. What I do not like, on the other hand, is wind. Then I would go on and give a more serious answer about the Dutch’s procurement of technology to seek efficiency and prosperity, or maybe joke again and confess how much I love good cheese. But anyway, here are some of the actual reasons to study in The Netherlands:
The general level of English of its inhabitants. It is amazing! I was astounded, delighted, that I could go anywhere without any problems, without having to speak the language. My peers speak with a great command of English and often I find myself either re-learning grammar or improving my pronunciation thanks to them. In the classroom, a professor’s accent most likely is heard clearly if not appreciably. In my opinion the Dutch accent is only noticeable on the older generations, but it offers a great utility; I think there is something in the Dutch language that injected the English of the older generations that somehow I think I associate with a calmed and objective tone.Well, in spite of how fabulous their accent is, I strive to immerse into the Dutch language, at least the basics, so I can understand the things sweet grandmas tell me while in line at the supermarket.
Unfortunately and deliciously, Holland, pronounced ‘Holanda’ in Spanish, is one of the most popular brands of ice-cream in Mexico. This leads to confusion about the true name of The Netherlands, and together with mills, tulips, and bicycles, it constitutes the stereotype we have of the Dutch. Some people are fortunate enough to see that there is much more. For example, technology should also be a stereotype. Not every country invests in technology to this level, improving the quality of life of its inhabitants with great harvest production, high-quality roads, and tools to protect themselves from natural phenomena, to name a few. Naturally this is noticeable in the classroom. There is a high level of consciousness about the current world’s needs that is put into the design of the study programmes, we are taught the latest tools to fight these problems.
Although this was not something I considered before coming here, the bicycle deserves a spot in this list. I learned to drive a manual car before I learned to ride a bike, yet I feel thankful and appreciative of the fact that Nijmegen is a place where bicycles have ‘tamed’ cars. It is hard to imagine that such a simple commodity could escalate into a necessity. I could walk to uni, easily, but walking for more than ten minutes to get somewhere feels weird now. The bike could be a necessity for a variety of reasons, it helps your wallet – even more so for those of students, it takes low-maintenance, it takes you places relatively fast, etc… One could still die from falling off the thing, and die twice as much if you crashed into something, but chances are you will land on a soft bed of tulips.
P.S. By this point I have become desentized to the cold wind, I can bike outside while it is seven or eight degrees celsius wearing just a hoodie, you could say I am starting to get…. ‘Dutchified’.