Nieuws - 5 september 2019

The Dutch don’t know their country


Coming from outside Europe, I feel that every city in this region is unique. It makes me super curious and I try to see as many different cities as I can. To my surprise, the Dutch don’t share my curiosity. They have often seen very little of their own country.

Every weekend I try to take time to explore different Dutch cities. Amsterdam, Leiden, Enschede, Tilburg, Eindhoven, Maastricht, Den Bosch... You name it, I’ve been there. And I guess that most international students visit the major Dutch cities. But when I try to talk to a Dutchy about any less popular city, chances are that he or she has never been there. By now I think I can claim to have visited more Dutch cities than the majority of Dutch people. I think that’s funny. The Netherlands is such a small country and railway connections are excellent here. The furthest major Dutch city is reachable from Wageningen within three hours. Still, many people do not take the trouble to go there.

By now I think I can claim to have visited more Dutch cities than the majority of Dutch people

A Dutch guy I spoke to recently confirmed my hypothesis that Dutch people rarely explore their own country. ‘Leeuwarden, Groningen, where’s that?! And no, I’ve never been to Gouda.’ And one Dutch friend of mine had never visited Rotterdam until three months ago, when we went there for an excursion of a course we took together. The funny thing is that his parents live in Den Haag, which is only 20 minutes from Rotterdam by train!

Tombayu Amadeo Hidayat, an MSc student of Geo-Information Science, from Indonesia

Do you have a nice anecdote about your experience going Dutch? Send it in! Describ an encounter with Dutch culture in detail and comment on it briefly. 300 words max. Send it to and earn twenty-five euros and Dutch candy.

NL: 'Gouda? Nooit geweest'

Nederlanders zijn globetrotters. In welke uithoek van de wereld je ook komt, je kom er altijd wel een paar tegen. Diezelfde wereldreizigers nemen echter niet de moeite om hun eigen land te verkennen, ontdekte masterstudent Tombayu Amadeo Hidayat uit Indonesië. Hij heeft in korte tijd al meer Nederlandse steden bezocht dan de gemiddelde Nederlander. ‘Ik sprak een Nederlandse jongen die niet weet waar Groningen en Leeuwarden liggen en nog nooit in Gouda is geweest. Ik vind dat grappig.’