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International students about ’those weird Dutchies’

Moving to the Netherlands may cause a bit of culture shock. Avans almost has 700 international students, all of whom have an opinion on our quirky country. Do they dare to cycle, do they like Dutch sweets and have they smoked a spliff yet?

By Merel de Bruijn and Lotte Gerritse Illustrations by Kim Bell

internationaldrop-620Aleksandra Stoyanova, Bulgaria
Fourth-year student of the Bachelor of International Business & Management Studies in Breda
“I can easily eat a whole jar of Speculoos biscuit spread in one sitting. Last Saturday I bought a new one and the next day it was empty. That stuff is divine. Treacle waffles are also a big favourite with me. How do you manage to keep them chewy like that?”


Ines Zabala Linares, Spain
International Entrepreneurship exchange programme in ‘s-Hertogenbosch
“Everything tastes great here. Having tried an awful lot I can say that Bossche bollen and fresh waffles dusted with icing sugar are my favourites. Dutch cakes and sweets are much better than the Spanish ones. They’re a lot less artificial.”

Marie-Alisée Milos, South Africa
International Business exchange programme in ‘s-Hertogenbosch
“I’m definitely not a liquorice person. The first time I had it I expected a very different flavour. Bossche bollen, on the other hand, are delicious.”

Filip Bonev, Bulgaria
Third-year student of the Bachelor of International Financial Management in Breda
“When you consider the weather, the Netherlands is not a very good country for cycling at all. The wind comes from all directions, making it hard to stay in the saddle. I think it’s rather impressive that everyone does it anyway.”

“For me, cycling was the weirdest thing ever. In Bulgaria nobody does it because it’s much too dangerous. In the Netherlands, however, everybody seems to cycle. Businessmen in suits, mothers cycling with their four children. I too bike to school nowadays. I’ve now come to a point where I can genuinely enjoy it.”

“You Dutch people pull some reckless stunts when biking”

“My first week of cycling here was madness. I’d never been on a bike before so I had no idea how to cycle. What strikes me is that there seems to be more room for cyclists than for cars over here! I’m slowly growing used to the whole cycling experience.”

“You Dutch people pull some reckless stunts when biking. In France, where I also study, the pedestrian is the king of the road. Here, the cyclist thinks he rules supreme. I’m nervous I will crash into someone, or for someone to crash into me. You always have to pay attention.”


Anna Aleshina, Russia
Fourth-year student of the Bachelor of International Business & Management Studies in Breda
“I’m not a big fan of Dutch cuisine. Herring sandwiches, however, I could eat all day, every day. Absolutely delicious.”

“While Dutch cuisine is not that special, asparagus and deep-fried cod parings are rather nice. Herring is really revolting and frikandellen are simply weird. What are they made of?”

“Bitterballen are scrumptious! I’m a bit unsure about all the other deep-fried foods because you can never be sure what’s in them. I also eat a lot of Babybel mini cheeses but I don’t really know whether they’re Dutch or not.”

“I don’t know what foods are traditional Dutch foods yet! Except for the croquette of course. The ones sold by FEBO from their vending machines are delicious. I live right next door so it’s tempting to pay them a visit.”

Stay or go
“I’m currently considering graduating at Avans after completing the minor. The weather in the Netherlands is excellent. In Spain, it’s much too warm. I’m looking forward to the winter when it’s time for snow and ice skating.”

“I felt at home here right away”

“I felt at home here right away. Much more so than in France, where I’m studying. The language and culture remind me of South Africa. Also, I like the attitude of the Dutch. They’re very straightforward and friendly at the same time. I could see myself living here after I graduate.”

“I’m not sure whether I’ll stay here or go back to Bulgaria. I have been living in the Netherlands for three years now, so it might be fun to go somewhere else. I’m currently doing a work placement in Italy so I have a lot of options open to me.”


Strange customs
“You eat early. In Bulgaria we don’t dine before 7 pm. In my student flat we can never have dinner together since my Dutch flatmates want to eat at 5:30, I want to eat around 7:00 and my French flatmate only after 8:00.”

“You guys have lunch and dinner super early!”

“Dutch people are very direct and honest. That’s something I really appreciate.”

“Every Dutch guy has a jar of hair gel in his bathroom cabinet, how bizarre is that?”

“I don’t really understand the Dutch people’s brand of honesty. They’re often unnecessarily unfriendly!”

“Every Dutch guy has a jar of hair gel in his bathroom cabinet, how bizarre is that?”

Pot or not
“I smoked some in Amsterdam with a couple of other students. A very extraordinary experience. I don’t light up often though. I prefer to keep a clear head.”

“Absolutely, I tried it for the first time last week, together with my flatmates. I ate a pile of sweet things. Smoking pot is definitely worth doing again.”

“I’ve tried it but it’s not for me.”

“Pot attracts foreigners, something Dutch people don’t like to hear. I’m very open-minded so I have tried it. People should decide for themselves.”


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