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Marianne during her internship in the Netherlands

Marianne did her internship in the Netherlands: "I'm around Dutch people all day, but I can definitely recommend them. They are actually really great, fun people to be around."

  • Adventure
  • Internship Abroad
  • Studying Abroad
  • Living Abroad
  • Working Abroad
  • Europe
  • the Netherlands
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Hey! Who are you and where are you from? Where do you study/live/work?

I'm Marianne, I'm a marketing student from Antwerp (Belgium) and I am currently doing my internship in Rotterdam (The Netherlands)

What was the first thing you thought when you got off the plane? (bus/train/car)

"Where the f*ck did I leave my ticket". Holland has this lovely system where you need to scan your ticket in order to leave the train station, and I have a wonderful habit of shoving my tickets in my bag after they're checked. Great combo. I spent my first 5 minutes on my knees, with the content of my bag on the floor, looking for the damn things so I could get out.

What was the most shocking difference between your home country and your new country?

How seriously they take biking! I bike to work every morning and I like to take my time and enjoy it, look around, soak in the surroundings. Dutch people don't do this, they prefer leaving 10 minutes late and then making up for it on their bikes. So there I was, all relaxed, when a mom with 2 kids and some groceries on her bike nearly ran me over. Zero chill. I knew the Dutch did everything on their bikes, which is why I thought they would be all relaxed and nice about it, but no no. Ain't nobody got time for that, you ride or you die. 

Did you ever feel homesick? How did you cope with this?

Not so much homesick, but I did feel very Belgian every now and then. I've never felt Belgian, until I lived in another country, then you really notice the differences with your own culture. It would always make me happy to catch a hint of Flemish, on the radio or with tourists, and I would feel this weird sense of pride like "YEAH, that's MY language". 

I was working here when the attacks in Brussels happened. It was so weird to know so many people that work and live in Brussels, to fear for their safety, to grieve the losses, while life in The Netherlands resumed fairly quickly. It's moments like those that you feel you're not in your home country. 

Did you feel at home in your new country? Why (not)?

I feel at home in the sense that I could definitely live there... But home will always be my home. 

Please give us tips about who to befriend when living abroad. The Russians? The Irish? The Chileans? (Honestly, we want to know some gossip about other internationals you’ve met.)

I'm around Dutch people all day, but I can definitely recommend them. Once you get used to their blatant directness and the fact that they could talk about money all.day.long... They are actually really great, fun people to be around. Of course, Belgians are also always worth befriending! 

Describe the inhabitants of the new country in three words.

Gezellig, gezellig, gezellig. 

What did you learn from your experience abroad? Was it the loving community you liked? The cheap cocktails? The overwhelming nature? Or was the experience less helpful than expected? Details, we want details!

I really had to get used to how direct people here are. I'm pretty direct and outspoken for a Belgian, but it was nothing compared to the Dutch. The corporate structure is also very different. I'm not used to colleagues bringing treats to work for their birthday, or talking to my boss on Whatsapp. Especially during my first weeks, when you don't know anyone, this was very comforting and made me feel at home quite quickly. I've grown quite fond of how direct and warm Dutch people are!

As soon as I threw my own reservations overboard and looked at things from their perspective, it went a lot better. What would be seen in my country as "lack for personal boundaries" was really just a casual interest in each other's lives besides work. What I had always seen as arrogance was just confidence (and volume. Man you guys are loud!). And their lack of their own refined cuisine (I mean, fried food from a vending machine and adults eating chocolate sprinkles is not exactly fine dining) is made up by the fact that there is a great melting pot of different cultures. I've had the best Vietnamese food ever here! So yes, definitely, it's the people and the community that made my stay so great.