When in Vienna for her internship, the Nepali blogger Mary Shrestha, now studying in Wageningen, experienced how foreigners perceive the Netherlands. Prostitutes and drugs are the first things that come to mind.
Before coming to the Netherlands, all I knew about Holland was Amsterdam. I still remember my relatives telling me to be safe, because they only knew Amsterdam for its drugs and its red light district. But after coming here, I experienced that the Netherlands has a lot more to offer. In fact, Amsterdam has been listed as one of the safest cities in the world.
When I was doing my internship in Vienna, I frequently encountered the following questions from colleagues. ‘Where are you from?’ ‘I am from Nepal, but I am doing my masters at Wageningen University, in the Netherlands.’ ‘Oh, you are from Amsterdam. Have you tried weed?’ I would say: ‘Nope. I live in Wageningen which is about 2 hours from there. ’ Mostly from guys, I would hear: ‘Oh, I’d love to go to Amsterdam, see the red light district and try weed.’
Well, I have never tried weed, but I remember the story and weird experience of some of my Nepali friends after eating space cake. They were not feeling well for a couple of days, while they were sharing their weird experiences.
What I am trying to understand is: Why is there misinformation about the Netherlands? Why do people see this country just for drugs and sex?
Only when internationals come to study and reside here they come to know the beauty of this country. One of the greatest experiences is cycling. We, internationals living in the Netherlands, adore how this mode of transportation combines personal health benefits with sustainability. Here, people are not just promoting this lifestyle, we are all experiencing it.