On the back page of Resource in 'Typical Dutch', foreign visitors tell us how they experience the sometimes odd Dutch culture. With the vacation coming up, we asked some of the TD writers to look at their own country for a change. What are the highlights? What should we definitely avoid when going there? The result is a lively and useful travel guide for the entire world, compiled by your own fellow students and colleagues. 'Don't be shocked when you see people praying to trees, stones, rivers, the sun and the moon.'
Lecturer Environmental policy group
'Most backpackers don't take time to see the city, which is a shame. You don't have to travel the whole country, the east coast has it all. The city of Sydney is surrounded by water. There are a lot of small beaches around the harbour, uncrowded in the big city. Three hours south of Sydney you can find Jervis bay, a beautiful white beach where you can go scuba diving, sailing or surfing. Also: get out of the backpackers world and address a local. They are open and friendly and can tell you what places to visit.'
PhD Environmental Sciences
'Visit different places. Chile is more than 4000 km long and very diverse. If you placed it over Europe, it would reach from Turkey to Finland. All the climates are there: the Atacama desert in the north is the driest place on earth while the national park Torres del Paine in the south has ice fields and mountains. In between lie the wine valleys of Chile. My favourite wine, Montes, comes from the Colchagua valley. Visit Easter island too. The culture of its inhabitants the Rapa Nui is closer to that of the Polynesian islands. One rule goes for the whole of Chile: Do not take pictures of the native people, they might get angry.'
Raed Gindeya Muñoz
Msc student Environmental Sciences
'If you visit Quito, the old city centre is a must see. You can take the teleferiqo lift to have a great overview of the city. On Saturdays you can visit the Indian market in Otavalo. You can buy colourful handcraft scarfs and fabrics from the indigenous people, and delicious pork meat. If you like jamming on the beach go to Montanita, one of the famous party beaches of Ecuador.'
Msc Management, Economics and Consumer Studies
'Unlike in the Netherlands where people say things directly , people in Nepal generally prefer more of a "roundabout approach", so be prepared for lengthy conversations that may frustrate you. You are guaranteed to smile about it as you ponder over these countless conversations in Nepal after you return home! Also, don't be shocked when you see people praying to trees, stones, rivers, the sun and the moon, animals including cows (so one can give up hopes of being served steak for dinner!) The reason we do this is that we believe everything that exists on Earth is worth worshipping, as they all contribute to making our lives worth living.'
MSc Environmental Sciences, Indonesia
When visiting Indonesia, do not be surprised by the foods you think you know well. Rendang (Indonesian beef curry) is one of the well-known Indonesian foods in the Netherlands, but it may burn you inside out when you order it in a traditional Padang restaurant. Also do not try sambal Ijo, which is usually served there, just because it looks green and mild. Sambal Ijo will take you to the hottest level of spiciness! If after this story you crave some Dutch food, go to the 'HEMA' in Jakarta for some stamppot, bruinebonensoep and windmills.
Norhariani Mohd Nor
PhD Business economics group
'Because Malaysia has different races with different cultures and languages, we celebrate everyone's festivities, such as Chinese New Year, Eid al Fitr Deepavali, and Christmas. So, enjoy our many holidays! But despite our abundance of time, don't expect us to be on time. If you see a public transport timetable, you will probably always have to add 10 minutes, and if you host a party, you should expect people to come later than the time you asked them to come. So if you want a cab to come early, remember to fix the time earlier or you will miss your plane!'
'In Bulgaria it is very common to drink strong alcohol (typical Bulgarian grape brandy Rakia) before the main meal, together with salad made with tomatoes, cucumbers and feta cheese. Usually all foreigners are surprised by this, but don't refuse it, it is delicious. What you do have to look out for is the fact that we nod our head to say no, and shake it to say yes. This often results in confusing situations! Sometimes Bulgarians are offended if you say 'no' to them in a very direct way (typically Dutch and often more effective), so try to elaborate on the situation and then go for the final refusal.'
Miila Kauppinen, Finland
BSc Forest and Nature Conservation
'When visiting Finland, you'll discover that the sauna is very important for Finnish people and ice hockey can make them crazy. You'll probably have to get used to our culinary specialities like dark rye bread, large amounts of ammonium chloride in candies and sweet rye pudding called 'mämmi'. Sometimes the first impression of Finnish people is that they are a bit distant and hard to approach but if you show a bit of interest, you'll see that they are a bit shy about speaking English (which they actually know fairly well). In reality they'd love to meet you and can be fun, honest, trustworthy friends!'
PhD student Geo-information Science
'Toronto, the capital of Ontario, is very diverse. It has a large China Town and Little Italy. Beyond that, the Toronto region is very much like the Netherlands, except for the Niagara Falls. Towards the North the countryside gets rockier. I think the best way to really experience this part Ontario is to camp in one of the national parks. If you want to drink some alcohol during your trip, make sure you are not caught drinking in public and try to plan ahead. Alcohol can only be bought at one of the two government controlled stores and not in supermarkets.'
Wisconsin, United States
Medewerker Van Hall-Larenstein
Wisconsin is at the heart of the Great Lake District. Life is good in the 'badger state' where people usually keep their feet firmly to the ground. The influence of the first colonists is still present. German immigrants introduced beer breweries and thanks to the Dutch, Wisconsin is the US largest producer of cheese. Even the landscape seems Dutch in many respects. If you love sports you definitely have to visit the Green Bay Packers, Superbowl Champion in 2010. It will cost you time or money though, considering the waiting list for a season ticket extends to over a hundred years.'
PhD student human Nutrition
'Of course everyone knows the Serengeti and Masai Mara national parks in the South West area, but my family originates from the central part. This part consists of mostly farming land where the people grow tea, coffee and other crops. But still, if you would visit it as a Western tourist, you will experience a lot of hospitality and get a lot of attention, maybe even a little too much. If you come to Kenya, it might pay to travel together with a Kenyan. If you travel alone, people might ask a lot more money for a bus ticket. Not to be missed: the geothermal electricity plant and the Nairobi National Park, inside Nairobi.'
PhD student Plant Breeding
'Rwanda is not big, even smaller than the Netherlands, but it's worth paying a visit. Famous are the volcanoes in the north, which house the last mountain gorillas in the world. In the eastern national park you can find 'normal' animals, such as lions and zebras. Rwanda is now the safest country in Africa, quite an achievement if you consider its troubled past. We don't like corruption. In the countries surrounding Rwanda it might be normal to bribe a police officer, but in Rwanda you will end up in jail. Finally, we would like to keep our environment clean, so make sure to leave your plastic bags at home: we only use paper bags.'
Kees van der Ark, Agnes tol, Arianne van Leeuwen