Canals and clogs

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Mid-April, the busiest and most profitable time of the year for Easter Bunny Incorporated.  The sales of chocolate eggs are rising to unprecedented levels. That’s right, Easter break is halfway through! Which means I started my internship already a week and a half ago. High time for an update from your correspondent in Amsterdam!

I hear you thinking ’but she said it would be her last blog’. Well it appears that was fake news. As if you didn’t see that coming.  ’What do I need an update for, she lives right next door’. True that. Unlike my classmate Sté, I find myself in a slightly less exotic and tropical setting. No vast beaches or breath taking mountain landscapes. No giraffes or zebras either. But then again, I won’t have any surprise encounters with big white sharks. Win!

Moving to Amsterdam did not only imply that I had to wave my friends goodbye for 10 weeks, but also that – after 6 joyful and adventurous years- my beloved student life had finally come to an end. Time to get it together, time for business!

So, what is life like as business development intern in Amsterdam?

Well, each morning before I commute to work I braid my hair, put on my clogs, milk my cow and water my tulips.

Nope sorry, I apologize. I shouldn’t make such blunt and stereotype jokes.

But there is one truth in this: I do commute to work. I live in the South-Eastern part of Amsterdam, since looking for a room in the centre of Amsterdam constitutes a pretty tough quest. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.

However, the company that I’m interning at do is situated in the heart of Amsterdam, more specifically at de Herengracht. They call this ‘the golden bend’ for obvious reasons 😉 . Therefore I get the chance to stroll down the romantic Amsterdam canals on a daily basis.

But, watch out when you’re strolling through the city! Bicyclist always have right of way, even if they don’t. They pass you by at bewildering speed and have zero mercy for unobservant pedestrians and tourists in particular.

Talking about tourists, there are thousands of them. What do I say? Millions! Amsterdam is a true metropolis. Besides tourists from all over the world, a whole lot of expats work in this very international city.

Amsterdam doesn’t only house a wide variety of nationalities, but also styles and types. It is a city of extremes. Not only posh lawyers in fancy suits adorn the streets, so do hippies, ravers and streetstyle fanatics. And they all come together at the metro stations. Oh, public transport, what a fascinating melting pot. (Really, you experience the weirdest things on the metro). But that’s not all. The Red Light District and the presence of countless coffee shops – and then I don’t mean the kind where’d get your croissant and cappuccino in the morning – contrast sharply with the people at the central station who’re preaching that Jesus loves you and abstinence is a must.

Now, how about the friendly rivalry between ‘the ‘dumb’ Belgians and ‘parsimonious’ Dutch? Well, I learnt that you should not make fun of Dutch beer. When I was asked if I wanted a beer at the office during our after work meeting, I asked what kind of beer it was. When the answer was ‘Heineken’ I jokingly replied ‘Oh, in that case: most definitely not’. I better hadn’t. Oh well, les goûts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas.

Fun fact: the Dutch not only have a different taste in beer, but also in spreads. Apparently it is perfectly acceptable and normal for adults to have sprinkles for lunch. And they come in all kinds of flavors: chocolate, fruit and even mint! Can you imagine?

Another cultural difference I experienced is that compared to Belgians, Dutch people are surprisingly direct and outspoken. If they have an opinion, they will share that with you. Saying hi to strangers or having random conversations with people at even more random places is way more common here. Belgians seem to be more reserved.

Last but not least, there does exist some kind of language barrier. People like to make fun of my ‘kek’ accent and vocabulary. Very ‘geinig’.

To use the famous words of an unnamed professor of ours: ‘Basically, the point that I’m trying to make is’ that whilst Belgium and the Netherlands might come across as very similar countries, they are not.

The length of this blogpost is getting ridiculously out of control. I’ll stop here, before I start to bore you. As if I didn’t already 😉

Doeeeei! Maybe I’ll see you somewhere in the crowd during Kingsday! Or sooner if you hop on the train and pay me a visit!

– Octavia –

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