Having a very good mix of senior and junior professors and researchers, this huge concentration of spatial economists provides students with the valuable insight of the more experienced and widely-acknowledged economists, together with the spark and the motivation of younger bright professors and researchers. In addition, as a member of the educational committee of the programme, I realised that the whole STREEM team makes a serious effort in improving the quality of the learning process using the feedback of the students; in collaboration with the professors. To be honest, it stroke me as pretty impressive. Other than the high level of teaching by the teaching staff, the teaching material and the whole programme structure, VU offers quite good connections to the job market. Career days which are useful, internships and online posts on job openings and vacancies. This is how I found the call for the PhD scholarship I am currently involved. Another thing to mention is the valuable advice about my career decisions from my supervisor and the support (recommendation letters) from other professors too. One final comment is that the fees are very reasonable and there are also some good opportunities for working part-time (not recommended; but could be needed) and getting a study grant from the Dutch government (for EU citizens).
Hey there! My name is Aneliya Evtimova and I earned a Master of Science degree in Entrepreneurship from the VU in 2012. I can honestly tell you that coming to study and then work in Amsterdam was the best decision I have ever made.
I graduated with a Bachelor in Business Administration at the University of Sofia, in Sofia, Bulgaria, where I’m originally from. The program was partly in French and since I wanted to diversify my experience, I decided to look for a Master’s programme in English. I chose very impulsively to study at the VU – one evening at my student job I was browsing through master programmes and I was looking for an affordable option of one year in Business Administration in English in Europe. And then I saw it – Entrepreneurship – but of course! I instantly knew that this would be an amazing opportunity for me to expand my horizon and learn about business in a new way. I stopped browsing and the next day I applied for the programme. And I got accepted.
Of course, arriving in Amsterdam was a bit of a shock. It was August 23rd 2011 and in Bulgaria the daily temperature was around 27 degrees Celsius. Underestimating the Dutch climate, I remember arriving at Amsterdam Central Station in a rainy morning, at least 10 degrees colder than my home country. And there I was, walking around the city with my flip-flops and two huge suitcases. This was the only day ever that I’ve felt out of place in Amsterdam – and I blame it on the weather shock.
Housing in the Netherlands is difficult (for internationals but for the Dutch also – as I later discovered), unless you’ve arranged it with the university beforehand. Indeed, I applied for housing through the university and I can definitely recommend that you do the same – your room is guaranteed, you will save yourself from a lot of headache and you for sure get to live with other international students, with whom you will possibly be sharing unforgettable moments.
If you like having fun, you’re definitely in the right place. I was very impressed by the introduction week that Erasmus Student Network (ESN) organized for the international students – with all the fun activities, including a sports day, aiming for us to meet and connect. Also all the Wednesday nights at the Coco’s pub were great, as were all the trips in the surroundings of Amsterdam. I was extremely amazed by how pretty the city of Amsterdam is and by the wonderful architecture. Biking makes moving around the city extremely accessible which give you a peace of mind and freedom you’ve never experienced before. I fell in love with Dutch electronic music and it soon became a substantial part of my identity. Concerning the Dutch, I still am truly astonished by everyone’s fluency in English – this definitely makes it very easy to communicate.
All these factors resulted in me feeling very much at home here in Amsterdam in less than 2 months. And it only gets better and better 🙂
The experience at the University was also quite interesting. Unexpectedly, at the very first class we were given the assignment to do 10 out of 20 entrepreneurial tasks in a group for 2 days! In the end we had to compile a video which you can watch here. And this first project was crucial for our continuation of the master study – this is what I would call a true entrepreneurial kick-off! The programme was quite diverse and balanced in what it had to offer. For some of the classes really all we had to do was read articles and write papers, but for others – we created a movie, wrote a business plan for a meeting app and had a lot of fun! If you are an international student, I would advise you to go to all classes so that you don’t accidentally miss out on a detail important for you. Again, studying is extremely important. You can always make it fun, though. For example, I was very happy that my thesis topic – the relationship between beauty salon owner’s entrepreneurial competences and their employees’ motivation was approved, for example. I have work experience as a manicurist and I was curious to do such research in the Dutch beauty industry. My supervisor instantly liked the topic very much and was supporting me every step of the way.
Looking back, I have to admit that living in this country and studying here has made me a much more flexible person with a broader vision. If you are hesitating to come to Amsterdam – just come 🙂 The freedom and peace of mind you get when living here gives you a lot of space to focus on the things you like and makes you a happier person 🙂
If you have questions or you’d like to chat, don’t hesitate to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. And by the way, when arriving, leave your flip-flops at home 🙂
Many international students go home to visit their family in friends during the festive season. However, some make sure they have a chance to enjoy at least a little of what Amsterdam has to offer at this time of year. From checking out the magnificent Christmas tree on Dam Square, visiting the Christmas markets and of course, ice skating on one of Amsterdam’s famous squares!
But, what’s is definitely worth staying in Amsterdam for will be New Year’s Eve! Why? Well, here’s our very own top 3 reason:
1. Fireworks – To scare away ‘bad demons’, we set off the fireworks. And honestly, we can promise, you’ve never seen as many fireworks in your life. If you have sensitive ears, wear your earplugs. It goes on for around 3 hours in a row.
2. Oliebollen and Appelflappen – Delicious hole-free doughnuts coated in icing sugar and wonderful apple fritters which do come with holes!
3. The Parties – All night long and too many to choose from.
But, whatever you choose to do – we wish you the best holiday season ever and a very happy 2015!
For the first time this year, VU University Amsterdam started offering its own summer school programme with wide a choice of courses that range from ‘Anne Frank in Amsterdam and Beyond’ to ‘Crisis and Reform of the European Union’ and ‘International Criminal Justice’ to name but a few.
Needless to say, we are proud of this project but, what would the reasons for students be, to invest and partake in a summer school? QS has done some of the work for us and listed 6 very good reasons why summer schools are in fact a very valid option:
1. For those of you who are not sure about university, summer school will give you a useful taster of attending lectures and seminars. You don’t miss out on the social aspect either, with nights out and various extracurricular activities often organized as part of the course. Meeting and interacting with your fellow students is also a plus point, and will let you get a real feel for the university and what it has to offer.
2. Attending summer school paints your university application in a favorable light. It shows commitment and dedication to the degree you want to undertake. Institutions across the globe award credits for summer school, so do some research if you intend to use summer school as a stepping stone.
3. It gives you better idea of what you want to study at a university. Quite often we choose courses that our parents want us to take or subjects that we are good at, ignoring what we actually have a passion for. This can create quite a dilemma for a student looking to make a balanced decision. At summer school you will be given a choice of courses, without having to commit a full study programme.
4. Courses are often taught by several faculties, at the university campus and at the same level as full-time courses. In case of the VU University Amsterdam Summer School. The courses are taught be several professors with varying backgrounds. On top of that the programme is filled with field trips to organisations relating to the subjects concerning.
5. As an international student, it gives you a feel of what it would be like to study abroad in a particular location; a potentially invaluable piece of research.
6. Meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures is part of the experience. You can make friends from different parts of the world, or for the more business minded, it is great for networking. Summer school is not just for prospective undergraduates – postgraduates and professionals can also apply. The combination of all three provides for a great learning environment for all.
All in all, spending 1 or 2 weeks at a summer school abroad, is a very efficient way to work on your self development and to discover that the world outside your own doorstep, away from friends and family, is in fact not very daunting at all. It can be the first step that will lead you to discover the rest of the world and you place in it.
To find out more about your options at VU University Amsterdam, check these short films about our students’ experiences at Amsterdam Summer School and get some more in depth information on the programme itself.
It´s been a long time now since I wrote here for the last time, almost 2 months. On my previous post I was about to leave Brazil and I was very anxious, nervous and uncertain about many things. To be honest, I still am but I feel more prepared at the moment. At this post I´ll share with you my first impressions about the VU, Amsterdam and also what my challenges have been so far.
Well, I´m alive and I´m ok. Arriving here in time for the introduction week was indeed very important; on my first day I could manage to do almost all bureaucratic obligations in one day and at one place. In the same week I also did a tuberculosis test and picked up my residence permit, so everything was very practical.
Meeting classmates & professors
During the following weeks I had many social meetings, which was kind of strange for me. The first contact with my group and professors was followed by a lunch and refreshments. Having milk and sandwiches for lunch was not the strangest part for me, but I have never been in a situation where students and professors have food together just after knowing each other for the first time. My classroom is very selective, we are only 24 people, so by the end of the day we already knew a lot about each other.
The second social meeting was a boat trip. All students from the faculty of law, together with professors and staff, went together in a boat to see Amsterdam´s canals. The trip was very unusual for me, but I enjoyed it very much ( good initiative VU!). At this same day we also had “refreshments” together. I am not used to have social meetings with professors, really, it is embarrassing for me. In Brazil we keep a formal distance from professors until both parties feel comfortable to have a more informal relationships. Also, in my previous university we could have activities together with certain professors ( those with whom students became real friends) but only outside the university environment. In conclusion, I would say that here at VU, as strange as it may sound, students and professors have a formal informal relationship ( very confusing indeed).
Another big difference from my previous education is how classes here are strictly planned. We have a calendar with the subjects of every class and also the readings we should do prior to them. This is also very unusual for me, but in a good way. In Brazil we are supposed to find out for ourselves the best reading material for each subject and also we don’t do so many discussions in classes. Here students make interventions and debate during classes all the time, which was unusual in my previous law school.
High work load
About my life specifically I feel that everything is too intense at the moment. I have an incredibly amount of readings to do every day, I must write assignments and book reviews which I’ve have never done before, I´m having Dutch classes ( which is totally cool=)) and, apart from normal life practical obligations, I´m super involved in an extra-curricular projects.
Together with some colleagues, I am organising a seminar and essay contest on UN Security Council reforms. The idea came to us by The Clingendael Institute that, together with Instituto Igarapé from Brazil, is hosting a conference between Brazilian and Dutch governments on the subject. We have a lot of work to do and I am investing a lot of energy on this activity, I feel that I must do the best I can to include my Brazilians colleagues on this project. Everyone is invited to participate and be the most creative and revolutionary as possible ( especialmente para meus colegas brasileiros: uni-vos! Com a nossa participação esse projeto vai bombar, certeza!;)
Out and About
About Amsterdam/Netherlands I really can not say much, I haven´t done many things yet so I don’t have a clear idea of what the city/country “vibe” is. I have been to the beach 3 weeks ago, I went there with a friend from Brazil who was visiting me. Actually we were planning on cycling to the country side, taking some pictures of the tulip fields, but then after cycling from Haarlem station for what seemed a long time ( yes, I´m still not fit for too much cycling), we arrived at the beach. The beach was very nice, different from Brazil of course but an interesting option for summer season.
After a few weeks in Amsterdam I´m very positive about a few things: 1- Bike is totally important; 2- Avoid, above all, cycling in rush hours in the morning ( between 7:30 – 9:30am) and cycling in the centre at any time. Rush hours can be very scary, I strongly recommend you to avoid it as much as you can. There are so many bikes at the streets that it seems like a bike crash is about to happen at any time. Also, people can be very, very rude during rush hours, it´s unbelievable how they can spread so much negative energy this early in the morning. Apart from this, dutch people are normally very polite and helpful, specially when you are lost and ask for directions.
In 1,5 month I have come from a non bike person to a bike lover, in fact all my concerns about cycling seem strange to me when I think about it now. Cycling is now my best means of transport, I feel more independent than ever and physically stronger as well. Also, I am already affectionate to my bike, I can recognise her from far away and we connect very well together, I know that when the time comes to say goodbye to her I’ll feel a lot.
What I like to do the most here in Amsterdam is relaxing at the parks. I love the parks of Amsterdam and the weather the last weeks was perfect for lying on the grass and just enjoying the sun. Whenever the weather is like this I take all my readings and spend some hours studying at the park, it is very inspiring.
Missing the Old, enjoying the New
Of course I miss Brazil very much, I miss my friends and my family. It´s been 1,5 month I don’t receive a honest hug, that big hug capable of making you feel better just because you feel the person cares about you. Apart from this, I think I´m adapting well here, I go to Uni by bike every day, I know where to buy my favourite groceries and my accommodation is really good.
Yes, for future records, Pierre Lallementstraat does exist and is very much habited by many students. The building is brand new, I was the first one to step in to my room, it is well furnished and very comfortable. The room is actually a big studio with kitchen, bathroom and studying table. We still don’t have a common area but people manage to meet in one another´s room for socializing and people are constantly talking to each other on our facebook page. The location is also perfect, we are approximately 25 min cycling away from VU and 15 min from the city centre. Oosterpark and Frankendael Park are in our backyard and we have many options for restaurants and cafés close from here (you just need to walk or cycle around a little bit and you will find them). If for some reason you can not cycle, Amstelstation is a 5 min walk away as well.
I´ve moved to Amsterdam from Brazil but the big challenges begins now, I must be able to overcome the problems and difficulties I´m already facing at the moment, if I can do this, I´m sure that after this year I´ll have learned and matured a lot.
Ik zie je later, tot ziens!!
This is the second post about moving to Amsterdam and starting a new academic year at VU. In a few days I´ll be leaving Brazil for a master degree in the Netherlands. Here I will tell you more about my preparations and what I expect next. Since the last post a lot of things happened.
I have received my visa with no stress. When I arrive in Amsterdam I must register at the municipality, get my residence permit, and then do a tuberculosis test, these are the information I have so far.
Today I received an email stating that I hadn´t paid for my residence in Pierre Lallementstraat and that I should do it before tomorrow or something really bad would happen to me. Well, I had totally forgotten about this payment in advance, I was sure I would be able to do it on the occasion of my arrival. Anyway, I managed the bank transfer and hopefully everything is ok. Still, no more relevant information about Pierre Lallementstraat and I stopped looking for it, I´m already moving there in a few days so I´ll wait to check it myself. DUWO wrote me directions on how to get there by public transport, so this is obviously a good sign.
In addition to this, I have also registered for this semester in Vunet, I am registered in 5 modules and there were a few very interesting electives classes to choose between. I hope I can keep up the expectations I know a lot of people have about me. It is not going to be easy to organise all different obligations I have this year but the secret is to control the anxiety and do your best, always.
Apart from the visa and classes I have also received an email about the events I must attend, they are many and I suggest for those who are as distracted as I am to write it down in a stimulant calendar, not to forget it. I can´t tell you all the events because I still haven’t done my personal stimulant calendar, but I know that until the 19th of august I´m ok, the list of events are from the 20th of august and on.
For what I could understand, there are formal events regarding the programme and university which are compulsory or absolutely recommended and there are those events which are informal and it is to get to know other students and staff. All these events will be on the orientation week at different dates, buildings and places depending on the event. Anyway, I believe that after all these orientation meetings we will have a much better idea of everything regarding our programme and VU practical operation. Each University has its own educational style and relation with students, between countries this is even more perceptive, therefore I already expect a little bit of strangeness at the beginning.
Now there is only the packing miracle to do. I always think “ what if I need this?” , like an iron or a lamp or kitchen stuff or books. I have many, many books and I can´t stop thinking I might need them for my studies, that everything is useful .I´ll probably finish packing in the next days.
Because I´ll be carrying 64 kilos of luggage, the logistic of the move is also an important subject. There is a pick up service from the airport to Uilenstede campus that goes from 10am to 16pm. The bus takes you to Uilenstede campus only, where DUWO office is located ( and the key to my room) and students who are not staying in Uilenstede will have to move their things by themselves.
Unfortunately the only flight from Lisbon to Amsterdam arrives in Schiphol Airport at 17:05 so I will have to manage my transportation myself anyway. However, I will have the opportune help of a friend from Brazil who is also living in Amsterdam ( !!!!!). We went to the same Law School and worked together in the same Law Office so it will be really nice to have a familiar person on my arrival ( thank you so much Hingrid!).
About my last days in Brazil, everything normal (not that much actually, we have presidential elections in about 2 months and this one is already particulary remarkble) .The bike project is on, I´m not sure, but I think I´ve improved since last post. This week I even woke up very early in the morning to go practicing, I almost never wake up before 7am but this was a good experience, the beach is beautiful at this time and I felt really good. Coincidently, I have also passed by Selarón Stair these days and I´ve found the Netherlands tile, it was really nice. Selarón Stair is one of Rio most visited places, there we can find tiles from every country.
Since my last post I have talked to Brazilian students who are also starting at VU this semester. Amsterdam, be ready for a Brazilian invasion because we are many and we arrive together ;). I found a girl who is also called Larissa, she will be doing the same master at Law School and we incredibly also share the same hometown : Recife.
I´m currently living in Rio but I am originally from Recife, a beautiful multicultural , hot and festival city located in northeast Brazil ( we do have the best Carnival party of Brazil and the temperature in Recife is hot, really). Recife was colonised by the Netherlands from 1630 to 1654. This very specific Dutch colonization in Recife had not mainly the purpose of exploitation so, as a result, we had many improvements at that time and our historical centre has a lot of Dutch architecture.
I leave Rio this Friday and I go to Recife, from where my flight departures to Lisbon Sunday night and then to Amsterdam. I can´t tell how much I already miss everything. I miss the great friends I´ve made in Rio, one of them gave me an awesome Netherland guide book as a goodbye present, I loved it! I also miss my best friends and family from Recife, not to mention Brazilian food and weather. However, I´m sure every international student feel more or less the same, I´m keeping a positive thought about this year and I think I´ll end up enjoying Amsterdam very much, undoubtedly it is a beautiful city.
I know many “test for the nerves” are about to come, this is inherent of such a redirection of life, moving to a new country and relating with different people, but we must face possible obstacles, there is no way else, each situation will provide a different acknowledgment in the end.
Now is time to take a deep breath and move forward. See you in Amsterdam!!
While there are numerous dictionaries à la “Dutch for beginners”, “Essential Dutch” and “Getting started in the Netherlands” out there on the market, students coming to Amsterdam actually don’t necessarily need to know how to threaten someone by calling the police or how you can introduce yourself to someone.
With this in mind, this small Dutch dictionary is designed to get you in touch with the Dutch, their language and culture and it all is student-relevant 😉
Amsterdam → political, cultural and economic capital and biggest City of the Netherlands, 2nd best city to life in the World, 165 canals and about 200 coffeeshops. Home to →van Gogh and Rembrandt, Anne Frank and Louis van Gaal. Economic centre of the Netherlands with the oldest stock exchange in the world and home to the headquarters of Shell, ING and Philips among others. Amsterdam attracts more than 3,5 million international visitors every year to experience the unique atmosphere of the city.
Broodjes → bread-rolls or Sandwiches which the Dutch tend to serve for Lunch. Always. While many countries have developed a culture of serving artistic lunches with warm and cold dishes, intricate compositions with several courses, the Dutch keep it simple and serve Sandwiches for Lunch. Broodjes can also refer to the bread-rolls themselves (why waste time and energy to invent another word) and if you’re up for a real treat, sometimes →Borrelhapjes en Soep (“soup”) can also be served for Lunch
Borrelhapjes (“Going-out-snacks”) → one of the first culinary treats every student in Amsterdam is being treated to. Warm Borrelhapjes are small tubes of breaded and deep-fried meat with sauce called Kroketten, stir-fried minced meat-balls called frikadellen, breaded rice-disks or tiny chicken-Schnitzels. Cold Borrelhapjes include the famous, the glorious, the world-known Dutch Cheese, such as →Gouda, as well as sausages greatly varying in age, drying and spiciness. Borrelhapjes are best served after copious amounts of →biertjes and some, such as Kroketten can even be obtained from vending machines. This is called Eten-uit-de-muur-halen which literally translates as “Get-food-from-the-wall”.
Biertjes (diminutiv of “beer”) → Oh dear traveller, are you up for the challenge? Though beer in the Netherlands is affectionately called a biertje do not underestimate the beer from the Low Lands (i.e. Belgium and the Netherlands). Unlike many other beers which usually sport an alcohol content of 5%, it is not uncommon for these beers to easily exceed 10% of alcohol content, so go easy on it. Also, if you want an Ale, you have to order an Ale, a “One beer please” will surely get you Lager. It is highly recommended to try some of the local Dutch beers, Heineken being the most famous one but really most popular with tourists and Grolsch and Amstel worthy contenders for being a default option with the Dutch. Highly, highly recommended is trying a local Amsterdam beer such as the one brewed by the Brouwerij ‘t IJ, with seasonal beers (Christmas and Easter beers), classical beers (Natte “wet” or Zatte “rich”) and exotic ones (Indian Pale Ale or Wheat Beer).
Elfstedentocht (“eleven city trip”) → A unique ice skating event where participants skate 200 kilometres through eleven cities in the province of Friesland with more than 16,000 participants. Held at least since 1760, sometimes the tour is a leisure event for the whole family and sometimes a fierce adventure (the tour in 1963 was finished by 69 out of 10,000 participants)
Elftal, (“Dutch Eleven”) → The Dutch National voetbal (“football”, please don’t call it soccer while you’re here) team, headed by the Bondscoach (the team coach) and sporting the unique Oranje-shirts. While football is the undisputed number one in Sports, the Netherlands are also famous for field hockey (especially with girls), horse-riding (with men and women) and ice skating (→Elfstedentocht). Should Holland ever win the Football world cup, it is a good place to be in Amsterdam. Nobody knows what the combined enthusiasm of decades of 15 million fans’ waiting will cause to the city but theories range from the end of the world to eternal peace on earth.
Feestvarken (“celebration-pig”) → Affectionate name for anyone celebrating their birthday. A bit informal so it is not necessarily advised to use it with your boss or lecturer. Also, don’t be surprised if guests on this special not only congratulate the jubilee but also the closer family, distant relatives and good friends. In the Netherlands, they all have contributed to get the jubilee to where he or she is now and thus they all deserve equal congratulations. It’s a great display of this Dutch communal spirit in a line with high-taxes, a splendid public healthcare system and a generally very informal manner (don’t be surprised if some students call their lecturers by their first names).
Fiets, “Bike” → Fietsen (“to cycle”) is the famous Dutch solution to traffic problems which arise if you cram millions of people into a tiny country. Despite all efforts to enlarge the country by conquering territory from the sea (ever heard “God made the Earth, but the Dutch made Holland” ?) the Netherlands still are bestowed with one of the highest population densities in Europe. But cycling is so much more to the Dutch, it’s a way of life, it’s environmental friendly, it looks highly suicidal to the untrained eye and it’s the most convenient means of transportation in most Dutch cities. But fietsen not only derives from practical considerations (and the fact that most of the Netherlands is flat as a Pannekoek, a pancake) but also the Dutch sport a passion for it seen in fietstochten (cycling trips) all over the country as soon as summer kicks in. Give it a try, there’s no way to navigate through Amsterdam like by fiets.
Gaan stappen / Uitgaan, (“to go out”) → The Dutch are always up for a biertje and going to one of the many kroegen (“bars”, singular “kroeg”) or coffeeshops is a must for every student in Amsterdam. The most spots in Amsterdam for doing so are Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein in the city centre, though many locals prefer going to the are known as De Pijp which sports a variety of Dutch bars. Tram, metro or bike transport the adventurous student to the city centre and bikes, cabs or night busses bring them back home. Amsterdam is also host to a ridiculous amount of concerts and festivals every year, some held in formerly →gekraakde Churches (e.g. Paradiso) other in grand-scale commercial arenas such as the Amsterdam Arena or the Heineken Music Hall. From Burning Man to Holi, Amsterdam has not only a vivid nightlife but also sports many festivals, some for free (such as the Vondelpark-Festival in →Vondelpark) others for good money.
Gouda, (pronounce it so that it rhymes with “louder” not “intruder” and the first G like the infamous ch-sound in Loch Ness) → A city in the South of Amsterdam and the most famous cheese of the Netherlands. Forget Swiss Cheese, Cheddar or Mozzarella, the homeland of Cheese is the Netherlands. Served on Broodjes or cubicle Borrelhapjes it’s a treat for any time or situation. Volendam, 15 kilometres North of Amsterdam is another famous cheese town and day-trips to buy cheese there are incredibly popular among tourists.
Gouden Eeuw, “Golden Age” → The hey-day of Dutch culture. Fostered by the trade with the East Indies, the Netherlands became the richest nation in the 17th century and spent this wealth on draining the seas, building a fine web of canals in Amsterdam and fostering the fine arts. It’s the time of van Gogh and Rembrandt but also the age of mass slavery through the VOC (Verenigde Oost-Indische Companie, “Dutch East Indies Company”), the richest and most powerful private company ever to exist and most notoriously known for the occupation of numerous countries, trade wars with England and the control over the trade in Spice and Slaves.
Koningsdag, “Kings Day” → The birthday of the King, the most orange of all the orange days in the Netherlands (unless, possibly, the Elftal wins the Voetbal worldcup), the day of madness, mayhem and tourists. A public bank holiday in Netherlands, Koningsdag is a day full of concerts, festivals and private parties with the vrijmarkt (“free market”) street market which extends to pretty much all of Amsterdam. Since no-one requires a licence to sell things on Koningsdag the streets are full with private, professional and semi-professional vendors selling everything from delicious snacks, antique art and rare oddities to used clothes and furniture, tourist souvenirs and a huge variety of alcoholic beverages. It’s always on the 27th of April, or on the 26th if the 27th falls on a Sunday. With a bit of luck you might see the royals, i.e. King Willem-Alexander and his wife Maxima.
Kraken (“to squat”) → Squatting buildings uninhabited for at least 12 months used to be legal in the Netherlands until 2010. This explains why the Netherlands, and Amsterdam in particular, still has a strong culture of squatters. This culture of squatting led to Antikraak-agencies which broker short-term flat leases so that various buildings are no longer inhabited. Famous Paradiso near Leidseplein was squatted when it was still a church and from this developed into the one of the finest music and event venues of Amsterdam’s inner city. A number of houses around the Slangenpand still are squatted and continue to host concerts.
Oranje, “Orange” → Since the House of Orange-Nassau is the royal house of the Netherlands, Oranje became the most Dutch of all colours. At matches of the →Elftal it has practically replaced the use of the Dutch flag (which can far too easily be mistaken for a French flag) and farmers have generated orange carrots which at their time was a tribute to Oranje and has nowadays virtually replaced the then prevailing varieties of purple, yellow or white. Fancy seeing the royals? →Koningdag is your day!
Rijksmuseum (“State museum”)→ Since the Netherlands are a kingdom (Koninkrijk) they also have a “kingdom-museum” or rather state museum. Located at the head of museumsplein (museum square) it is in direct vicinity to the van-Gogh museum and stedelijke museum (“city museum”) and is only one of over 50 museums in Amsterdam. While the museum hosts a variety of classical arts (the most famous painting being De Nachtwacht, “the nightwatch”, by Rembrandt) other have specialised in cats, psychedelic art, navi, sex, prostitution or torture. A museumskaart grants free entrance to all public museums for 12 months for 55€.
Van Gogh, Vincent (Try pronouncing it not like “goat” but like the infamous “Loch” Ness just with the same ch-sound in the beginning, too) → Famous Dutch painter of the →Gouden Eeuw. Driven by the intensity of his experiences he managed to express his pain in the most beautiful ways before ending his life long before his time at the age of 37. Many of his works can be admired in the van Gogh museum at museumsplein.
Vondelpark → The biggest park within the ring of Amsterdam, Vondelpark is known as the garden of Amsterdam. In a warm summer day you will find a variety of activities going on, from children’s birthday parties, to newcomer bands practising, from outdoor martial arts classes to endless rows of barbecues, from concerts in abandoned air-raid shelters to Picasso’s statue of a fish. Listen to Acda en de Munnik‘s song “Vondelpark vannacht” to get the impression (though it’s in Dutch 😉 and definitely spend the best days of summer there.
Wallen, de → Arguably the most famous attraction of Amsterdam the network of alleys known as “de Wallen” host about 300 rooms rented out by prostitutes to offer their services. Bordering on Zeedijk, Amsterdam’s small Chinatown de Wallen mostly consist of old 14th century buildings, bars and museums on prostitution and the red light district. It’s popular among tourists and free guided tours educate about prostitution and the development in Amsterdam.
Zwarte Piet, (“Black Peter”) → Faithful companion of Sinterklaas (“Saint Nicholaus”), Zwarte Piet helps him to deliver presents and bring sweet to the waiting masses of children on the 5th of December. Recently, much controversy has been sparked by his traditional appearance of actors with black facepaint, curly wigs and red lipstick to depict racial stereotypes.