Postcard Utrecht: So close, yet so different

October 9, 2011

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for,” the wise American Author John A. Shedd once said. Keeping that sentence in mind, I took my ship – well in my case a bike, cause yeah that’s what they do there in the Netherlands –jumped inside the car and drove to Utrecht. My new home for the following four months.

Biking in Utrecht: a real nightmare

Although my new house is only 174 kilometers from my old and comforting home in Belgium, things are pretty different over here. Not to say even a bit scary sometimes.  And I’m not talking about the language/ accent difference. For example: I was actually kind of shocked – in a positive way – when someone said ‘hi’ to me in the lift. And he even started a conversation! Nobody does that inBelgium. Except the older people. They want to keep talking to you as long as possible.  But I guess we Belgians are more on our own. We’re not into talking to people we don’t know. Not that we only care about ourselves, but  I guess at some point we are more defensive.

And what’s up with those bikers? The first time I biked to the city center, I almost got run over by a couple of dozen bikers coming from the other side. I had no choice but follow them and to pray I would end up safe at my destination.

I must also say that Dutch people also have a great sense of humor. Especially when it comes to jokes about Belgians. They’ve got a whole load of them. And I guess I must have heard them all by now. (At least I hope.)

Also the food is quite different too. The pre-chopped vegetables, snacks coming out of a wall and not to mention the Dutch fries or like they call them ‘patat’. I know I’m a bit prejudiced because I come from the country where French fries is the exporting product, but still.

Although we have our differences and things are quite new for me, I feel like I’m finally getting used to everything. I even dare to say that I start feeling at home. And home is not only where you live, it’s also where they understand you.

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