Ever wondered about how politics works in the Netherlands? Is it the Netherlands or Holland? And why do Dutch people seem to love the colour orange? Questions about traditions, cultures, and facts and figures cannot be answered in a few words. But that’s where the World Wide Web can help; there’s a wealth of information out there.
If it’s straight facts and figures about the Netherlands you are after, the CIA has a list. Sites with more links to everything from Dutch history to clogs and windmills are http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netherlands and http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/country_profiles/1043423.stm
If you want to know more about the government in the Netherlands, check out
http://www.government.nl/bewindslieden/index.jsp. This site also outlines government policy, as well as all ministers and state secretaries.
Political developments in the Netherlands do not tend to make it often to the international news media, but there are a few good sites with news about Holland in English, specifically aimed at foreigners living in the country: www.expatica.com,
www.thehagueonline.com and www.expatsonline.nl.
Besides websites about the Netherlands itself, there are also sites that provide information on practical issues you may encounter during your stay here. General information for foreigners staying in the Netherlands can be found at http://www.undutchables.nl/. For information on public transport you need www.ns.nl (for trains) and www.9292ov.nl (all public transport). If it’s tourist information you’re after go to www.holland.com/uk which is the Dutch tourist board site. www.iamsterdam.nl is a good source of information about what’s on in the capital.
And then there are the world-famous tulips, Dutch clogs and windmills. Did you know that it is a myth that the tulip is a plant of Dutch origin? And that the clog-making industry now relies totally on tourism? In other words, there is also enough information on aspects of the Netherlands which even the Dutch people laugh at. Look at www.howtosurviveholland.nl/flash.html for some of these typical traditions like how to eat herring the way the Dutch do.
After visiting all these sites, you should know even more about the Netherlands than most Dutch people. But besides this kind of information though, there are a few more websites that you will probably find useful during your stay here: the ones recommended by international students. First of all, there is a website run by and for all students in Wageningen, both Dutch and international, http://wesp.wur.nl. It includes a forum where you can ask questions or discuss specific topics. Look at the supply and demand section if you are looking to buy or sell things. The same goes for http://bulletin.wau.nl/main.cfm. Although this website is no longer being managed, it is still used intensively by students for want ads, events and lots more.
If you want to know more about Wageningen visit the gemeente site www.wageningen.nl. Much of the website is in Dutch, but there are links to other sites about Wageningen in English, German, Spanish, French and Italian. These consist mostly of tourist information rather than practical information needed for a longer stay. For that, you have to look outside Wageningen. The most comprehensive source of information for students is the website of Nuffic, the Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education (www.nuffic.nl), which has a very useful special link for students: www.studyin.nl. And note the ‘Day of the International Student’, which takes place on 5 November this year in The Hague: www.dis2005.nl. Workshops and excursions will be held, and it’s an opportunity to meet other international students and to get to know more about the Netherlands.