Differences in Cultural Practice

For my exchange I am staying in the heart of the Netherlands, namely in Utrecht. Thus, it is almost an obvious consequence that my first focus on cultural difference lies on the way that people get around. Utrecht is often found in the top 3 of lists covering the topic of “bicycle-friendliest cities of the world”, and rightfully so, in my opinion. Shortly after my arrival I felt a strong urge to cycle through the city. Maybe it was because of this that on my second day in Utrecht, I bought a slightly overpriced bike.

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Amsterdam – tank ju well!

What an amazing city full of international people who make new inhabitants in the city feel welcome. Nevertheless, Amsterdam is a European city, which made it difficult for me to discover cultural differences at the beginning. On the one hand, things are very similar, but on the other, differences are quite difficult to perceive because they seem quite indistinct. In order to perceive them, it is necessary to give the matter a lot of thought, and then even slight distinctions can suddenly become quite revealing when it comes to differences in culture. Continue reading “Amsterdam – tank ju well!”

Dutch & English

Maastricht is a small city which has a big famous University with a lot of exchange students. All the lectures are in English and everyone speak English here. I can really tell that my English is improved since I got here because English is almost the only language I use to communicate, which also means that I don’t really get in contact with Dutch as a language. After meeting a lot of exchange students who are from all over the world, I can really tell where the people come from based on their accents while speaking English. I don’t really have any problem speaking or understand English here. What I noticed is that people who speak the same language tend to hang out with each other more. The Americans, Canadians, Australians are always in the same group, so are the Latin American and Spanish. Especially the Spanish-speaking students, they often speak Spanish to each other when they are in class, the same for German students who always speak German together. That’s why the university has a strict rule for every tutorial: only English must be spoken, even in the break! Sometimes. when you’re the only non-Spanish-speaking person in a group, you can easily feel left out. But of course in the hallway or at the school entrance, you get to hear every kind of language. Since a lot of students are German, I also get to hear/ understand a lot of conversation in German too. I have heard from my friend that sometimes, when a group has a German majority and the tutor is also German, they even explain things in English AND in German, which is very annoying for non- German- speaking students. Continue reading “Dutch & English”

‘Kopje koffie’ in Utrecht

One of the most striking things I find so far is Dutch sociality. Utrecht as a student city is full of young, energetic and easygoing people. This contributes to a relaxed and open atmosphere to be found everywhere you go, especially cafés and bars.
In this blog I would like to focus on cafés.

Holland is a coffee-drinking nation and therefore has lots of cute cafés on every corner. Dutch people love to drink their “kopje koffie” and chat for hours. People do not only chat when being at a café but also do their work for university there. Whether it is to work on a group assignment, read a your papers or write this blog, everything is possible and seen. Usually people sit at big tables, with their stuff spread out and have agitated conversations. What must not be missing is coffee and if you are hungry a “broodje” (in our understanding a sandwich with any filling you desire).

Continue reading “‘Kopje koffie’ in Utrecht”

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