Living in Utrecht and Discovering the Real Holland
I arrived in Utrecht in the Netherlands two weeks ago, gigantic suitcase in tow. I came to Holland knowing very little about the country. I pictured it as a pastoral landscape rife with tulips, windmills, and wooden shoes. But Dutch identity extends beyond these well-worn stereotypes.
Many people complain about Dutch food, deeming it primitive (most dishes consists of fried batter and cheese). But it tastes delicious, and I’m not complaining. They sell enormous cones of french fries in the street, and many people eat them with globs of mayonnaise. Stroopwafel is another Dutch delicacy. Indonesian food is popular here, as Indonesia was a Dutch colony until World War II.
The other night, we happened upon an outdoor gathering, and followed the mob of people into the closest club, where we danced until 6 am.
Utrecht is a really beautiful city with narrow cobblestoned streets and shimmering canals. It’s also a very young city. This has been welcome week for many of the universities, and there have been free parties all over the city. The other night, we happened upon an outdoor gathering, and followed the mob of people into the closest club, where we danced until 6 am. Not the best idea, considering we had a tour of Utrecht’s Dom Cathedral Tower the next day (which included climbing many, MANY steps).
Another main aspect of life in Holland is bike riding. People ride bikes everywhere, and there is even bike traffic during rush hour. The country is completely flat, and there are bike lanes everywhere, so biking is a really convenient and enjoyable way of getting around.
Dutch society is often perceived as agrarian and utopian (windmills, sheep), however, it has a dystopian image as well. Prostitution and soft drugs are tolerated here, making the red light district of Amsterdam a haven for belligerent youths. But real Dutch culture has little to do with either of these two extremes. I’m looking forward to learning about the “real Holland,” and hope to enjoy some delicious cheese along the way!