The Netherlands through the eyes of an international student

We asked Lin Yuan, international student from China and resident of Amsterdam Zuidas, how she experiences the Netherlands, the city of Amsterdam and Dutch people. What prejudices did she have before coming here and did they prove to be correct or totally false? It resulted in an honest, funny and interesting blog. Is it recognizable to you too?

''So what do you think about Dutch people? And about Amsterdam?''
These are the two questions that I often get. Well, I mean, before I came to the Netherlands, I did hear a few things about Holland and the Dutch, and some of them turned out to be true, and some of them are just total rumors…

Before I came to the Netherlands, I had heard that Dutch people are tall, which turns out to be 200% true. And I can definitely prove it to you by how tall these mirrors are installed in this country. When I went to my Dutch friend’s house, I could barely see my head in the mirror. So for people like me (not very tall), bring your own mini mirror just in case you don’t see yourself! (Thank god, mirrors in Student Experience are the friendly ones!).

Since I came from a place with a broad food culture, I got to talk about the food. You might wonder, are there any Dutch dishes? The fries (aren’t they from Belgium btw)? Stroopwafel? Or herring? I also have a question mark about Dutch food. So I asked almost every Dutch person I met: ''So…what food do you guys have?'' And to be honest, they don’t seem to know either! I guess we'll never find out (But hey, if you know, please share with us).

Do you know how you can differentiate students who have been studying in the Netherlands for a while from newcomers at the canteen? Students who have a bag of bread and multiple dippings from Albert Heijn. Then you know they are really adopting life here. You know, in the beginning, I had my resistance period of trying to cook. But later on, I seem to surrender the choice of eating bread due to the stress of being a student in a Dutch university, you have no time to cook! So yeah, I fully accepted the bread culture and almost tried every bread at Albert Heijn. Let me know what your favorite bread dish is.

As you might have seen from your class, there are so many international students that study in Amsterdam, and as far as I know, not many of us are taking Dutch courses. In the past few years of living here, I guarantee that English works just fine. And I have to say Amsterdam, you spoiled us! I always want to thank the local Amsterdammers because they made our lives so much easier, especially for someone who just landed here and has 20 things to register for.
Do you know that Amsterdam is only ⅛ the size of London? In the beginning, my friends and I thought that Diemen and Amstelveen were part of Amsterdam since the metro and tram go all the way there. Until we found out that they have their own city halls, we realized that Amsterdam is, in fact, pretty small. This sometimes can be very convenient when you can travel from one side of the city to the other within 1 hour. But sometimes, it can let awkward things happen, such as you can just easily bump into your ex because everyone is hanging around De Pijp for a coffee date.


Despite the tall mirrors and the food culture here, there is for sure that you can find plenty of unexpected love in Amsterdam. At almost every traffic light intersection I stopped at, I found a few stickers with very inspiring words, and they are like chicken soup for the soul. I often wonder who is putting these loving notes around Amsterdam. Are they just trying to encourage those who happen to pass by? I don’t know, but one thing I am sure of is that these people made this city full of love and made Amsterdam a place that I can call my second home.