Madelon, student from Groningen, Netherlands, reports from her semester at the ZHAW in Zurich.

Besides studying, there is a lot to gain from going abroad for a semester. Not just for me, but also for the Swiss to get in touch with the dutch culture. In my last article, I already showed the stroopwafels I brought for the international day. They were a huge success and they were also a good way to make friends in Switzerland. Next to stroopwafels, I brought some lovely licorice. This apparently seems to be a way to make enemies. Some didn’t look like standard licorice, so people «accidentally» ate them. It was hilarious to see their faces and fortunately, there was more licorice for me.

Next to eating, we also love to party in Holland.

The 27th of april is Kingsday in the Netherlands. It used to be Queensday a few days later in April, but since we have the new king, we celebrate Kingsday on his birthday. It is the biggest national holiday we have and therefore there are crazy parties all through our big cities.

Since I was here this year and not in Holland, I had to throw my own party, so I took all my dutch decorations, make up and food and threw a party with some of the people I’ve met over the past few months.

holländische Studentin in einem orange geschmückten Zimmer

Ein Teller mit Wurstwaren, Eiern und Spargeln. Eine holländische Spezialität.

The only thing missing would have been some dutch beer, but I have learned to appreciate the Swiss beer, so this was not too much trouble.

Besides this national holiday, we have «memorial day» on the 4th of may, on which all the Dutch are silent for 2 minutes at 8pm to remember all those who have died during the second world war and in wars across the world ever since. It’s strange to do such a thing abroad, while you can hear other people talking. But it also feels good to stay in touch with the traditions of my country and to respect and remember all those who have given their lives so that I can travel, study and live where and how I want.

After «memorial day» we celebrate «liberty day». This is the day where the Dutch were freed during world war 2. This is celebrated throughout the country in form of liberty festivals. Most big cities have their own festivals, that take place in big parks with different stages. Since it’s the day where we celebrate our freedom, these festivals are also free to enjoy. So if you can’t make it on the 27th of april, the 5th of may is the second best day to be in the Netherlands.

I hope to be able to welcome you all to our lovely country once upon a time. Of course I have to advise you to see my awesome home city of Groningen, which is just as great as Amsterdam, just with more students and less tourists. There are plenty of clubs, coffee shops, beautiful buildings, great universities and very welcoming inhabitants!