Let’s eat!

Since I have written about many things I have experienced or enjoyed while being here in the Netherlands, I think it’s about time I write something about dutch food and drink culture. Would be really if I wouldn’t cover that subject as a extreme food and beer lover, haha.

The food culture in the Netherlands seems really traditional and old school. The stereotype of Holland being the land of cheese is true. There is always many different cheeses available no matter in which grocery store you are shopping. Edam and Gouda are the most typical cheeses they are usually buying and they are always really delicious. I have to admit that even though I’m not really a cheese person.

I have also tasted many of traditional Dutch foods. Haring, the raw fish served between a bun with raw onion was probably the most extreme I tasted. The raw fish whether it is sushi or haring is not really made for me. Krokets, which are made of, mashed potatoes and ground beef and then deep-fried are how ever really good. Krokets are usually eaten at lunch with bread, French fries and mayonnaise. Especially at school I see lot of students just buying bread and stuff a kroket inside the bread bun. It is cheap, easy and fast.

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Kibbeling as it is usually served at the food market

On Saturdays I have visited food market several times. That is pretty Dutch also. People go there to buy fresh vegetables, clothes, cheese, sausages, and fish and eat snacks. My favorite Dutch snack is kibbeling. It is basically made by deep-frying little pieces of Atlantic cod. It is served usually with different sauces like garlic or mayonnaise.  I love the kibbeling because the surface is so crispy but fish so tender and juicy on the inside. It is probably my favorite of the Dutch foods.

What other things Dutch people love to enjoy? One of them is of course beer. Dutch beers are known worldwide and Heineken is the most sold beer throughout the world. Although Belgium, the southern border neighbor of Netherland, is known better from their beers the Dutch can also brew some good beers. One thing however is really different. In the Netherlands the beer is served in small glasses of quarter litre. I haven’t seen that anywhere else but France, but it’s more of wine country. In Germany beer is usually served from one-litre pints so for comparison you need to drink four beers compared one “mass”.  Dutch beers in general really good from basic beers like Grolsch, Bavaria and Amstel but there are also a lot different special beers, which are worth trying.

src: http://kualalumpurpost.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/heineken-beer.jpeg

Lunch in the Netherlands differs completely from what I’m used to in Finland. In Finland we eat proper warm meal every time with salad, drink and bread. In Holland however the people are just eating little breads, krokets or warm soup. They are also in hurry usually so they don’t have time to stop by to have a warm lunch. I have seen many times people also skipping lunch completely or by just eating a little snack like cake.

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Not so white christmas in Bruges

Long time has passed once again, but now I have a good chance to update my exchange blog once again when we’re having a Christmas holiday. One week has already passed so I think it’s time to write what we have been up to here in the Netherlands during my holiday.

Right from the start we knew that we will probably spent our Christmas here in the Netherlands, because we are coming back at the end of January anyway. We found out that the flights are too expensive to come to visit Finland few weeks before we come there back permanently. As you might know flying at Christmas time isn’t really cheap compared to regular prices. So we decided to have a bit different Christmas here in Breda and mix our Christmas with Dutch and Finnish traditions.

However I was really happy when my father decided to come to visit us at Christmas. My dad flew from Helsinki to Amsterdam in 22nd of December and returned on Boxing Day. It was nice to spent Christmas with my dad and Pirita here in Breda.

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Bruges

On 23rd of December we had planned to take a daylong trip to Bruges, Belgium. Train tickets from Breda were around 40 euros back and forth and it took about three hours to travel via Antwerp to Bruges.

In Bruges we spent the day by visiting traditional Bruges’ Christmas market. There they had several different booths where you could buy for example handicrafts, enjoy hot Glühwein (it is bit like traditional glögg but tastes more like red wine), taste Belgium chocolates and even ice skate. We also visited several chocolate boutiques where they had different chocolates in many different shapes. They even had a real size chocolate Santa Claus!

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Beer, chocolate and christmas lights in Bruges

We spent lot of time just walking around beautiful Bruges’ old city. There are plenty of canals and the architecture has been same since the medieval time. When dark fell in the evening the city’s lights and Christmas decorations were looking amazingly beautiful. No wonder some say that Bruges is one of the most beautiful cities in the whole world!

We didn’t also forget to visit some beer stores where they had several hundreds of different beers available to buy. Of course my dad and I got some souvenirs what we then enjoyed with our Christmas meal in Breda.

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Enjoying glühwein at christmas market in Bruges

Pictures © Pirita Kapanen

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Exam week: Study for your life!

Dutch weather at it’s finest

Oh damn. I’ve been pretty busy with all my school stuff, floorball games and parties that haven’t really had any time to even think about my exchange blog.  Once again I decided to go hard on myself and write about exam week.

Here in NHTV we have exam week in end of every block. We had exams for every single subject except for production house 4. We had to fight with Project management, Intro to management, Fundamentals of Storytelling and Media & Entertainment management.

Before exam week we had one full week for studying and reading text books, which was really great. I tried to study hard knowing the fact that I had to pass all the courses to get the ECTS credits and not having to pay back the money from KELA and Erasmus. That’s good motivator.

All the exams went pretty well except for one. Pirita and I struggled with Fundamentals of Storytelling. You needed 60% of the points to pass when exam had 40 questions with multiple-choice questions. Of course the worst happened. We needed 24 right answers and I got 23 right (Pirita 22). Godverdomme! (=basically God damn in Dutch). So because of one wrong answer I’m going to redo exam.

Here in the Netherlands and NHTV they’re really strict with things. I bet in Finland we could have just a little extra assignment to receive one single extra point and pass the course, but here: not going to happen. Also all assignments during course need to be submitted in time or you won’t pass the course. Another surprise was that we had to even show our id when you come to the exam. So weird compared to Finland.

All in all first exam week went nicely: I got 8 and 9 from rest of the courses and it wasn’t as stressful as I thought. Now we are already started to work with block B and courses seem more interesting. No wonder when we chose web design & development, image editing and marketing.

Lastly, the weather in Netherlands is total bullshit. It’s raining and raining all the time. Already miss snowing and freezing temperatures. Would have it any day compared to continuous rain and +7. In the end my list most missed things about Finland:

  • Sauna
  • Snow and freezing temperatures
  • Ice hockey (Dutch people watch field hockey instead, looks like the guys are having too short sticks)

 


“Floorball? What is it?”

Long time has passed since last update to my exchange blog. I’ll blame mostly school assignments that have worn me out pretty much completely. After 2 essays of approximately 1500 words writing a blog post doesn’t seem so interesting compared to going out or just relaxing with room mates. I’ll admit that writing assignments are not really my thing, but so far managed well and passed the first assignment of management course. Yey!

In this blog post I decided to write about my hobby floorball, in the Netherlands mostly known as unihockey or zaalhockey. Funny thing is that when you are talking about floorball nobody knows what you mean. Many times I been trying to explain it with inside field hockey but people are still thinking it’s my imagination or something…

When I applied for exchange I thought it would be nice to still play the game I love. I already had to give ice hockey away for 6 months so I made all I could to even play floorball, here in Breda, Netherlands. Sounds crazy right? Well actually all worked out pretty well.

After I was accepted to study in NHTV I contacted Netherlands Floorball federation right away via e-mail. I was waiting for reply really long when suddenly FC Breda’s organizer contacted me via Facebook and told me that there is team to play for.

At the first practice I was pretty surprised. There were some really good players, then guys who have started, both boys and girls and really good conditions to play at BRESS. (Breda Student Sport Center).

Half of the team is from abroad like Pirita and me. We have Latvians, Hungarians, Swedes, Finns, Germans and of course Dutch people. We have training every Tuesday and games on weekends. In the training we do real exercises because the new comers need lot of help with basic ball techniques, passing etc. In the end we always play.

We have already had two official games. We played in the Dutch cup against the last year champion and got out blown 33-4. The gap between the teams was huge and playing with only one substitute didn’t really help when opponent is having two complete lines. In the first league game we tied against Nijmegen’s team 7-7. So far I think the level of the game is worse than 5th division in Finland. Anyway I have enjoyed playing real games especially with my three team mates who are really good to play: Gatis from Latvia, Daniel from Hungary and Tim from Holland. We also have this mixed small field competition starting up soon which is played in smaller rink and always with 2 guys and 2 girls in the rink at the same time.

Upper row: Victor, Tim, Gatis, Pirita, Daniel. Lower row: Me and Loraine

The main problem is that all the good players are mainly abroad and the gap between players (in our team especially) is really huge. When others have played almost 10 years, others have just started.  That isn’t good as I been pretty frustrated some times, but you just have to try to help the new guys and give them good tips and advices.

If you were interested you can check our team website and Nefub.nl below!

http://www.nefub.nl/competitie/team_details.php?team=1083

http://www.svenskalag.se/FCBredaH1


And off we go!


Now that I’ve finally settled in to my new apartment and have taken care of all the little practical things, I have also little time to write to my blog.  I’m gonna write how the things have gone and what I’ve been up to for the past few days.

We flew the route HKI – CPH – AMS on Tuesday. Our flight left pretty early in the morning and we didn’t sleep too well before the hard travelling. We arrived in Copenhagen and had a switch there. There was like seven hours between the flights, so we decided to head to Copenhagen city center. We traveled with two Finnish fellow students, Milja and Gezim. They both are going to study hotel management and are from Helsinki.

In Copenhagen we agreed to visit the legendary Copenhagen Tivoli and just walked around those narrow streets in the city center. Although we didn’t have much time, we really had fun, saw some pretty cool places and experienced a lot.

We arrived to Schiphol airport in the evening and found out that  the easiest way to Breda was by train through Rotterdam. It was important to us that we got the straight train, because we had a ton of luggage with us. Getting in and out of the train with two 20 kilogram luggage bags and floorball toolbag was pretty hard. There was no need to workout the following day. 😀

We spent the first night in Apollo Hotel Breda, only 150 meters from the station. It was nice that the hotel was so near because we were pretty dead tired from travelling for like 16 hours straight.

The following morning we had the check in at the NHTV. It was quick event, just showing up and receiving a document that clarifies that we are really studying in NHTV Breda. Next two days we only had little presentation in the auditorium and meeting with our lecturers.

Friday was more special. We had a city tour with other exchange students and we had a little quiz about Breda and its best-known places and sights. Our group leader Sam was a native of Breda. He gave some really good tips where to go and what to do.

We also went out almost every night with the other exchange students. The city center of Breda is really beautiful. I really enjoy the atmosphere, terraces, pubs, boutique streets and the people (which are really friendly by the way, as the Dutch always seem to be).

School isn’t starting until 2nd of September so we have one week of a vacation in head of us. We already bought used bikes with Pirita so getting from one place to another is easy, fast and effortless. Cycling itself is so different from Finland. They have own lanes and roads for bicycles and at the crossroads there’s even own traffic lights for cyclists. The land is also so flat that you don’t get sweaty or exhausted while you’re riding a bike. Traffic seems pretty easy and we learned it in few days. You just need to stay sharp and  remember to watch to your left and right.

So far so good. Looking forward to the next week. Maybe going to Amsterdam and spent some time with other exchange students. Till the next post, tot ziens! 🙂

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Practical arrangements before leaving

Today I retired from my summer job according to my plan. I had to quit little bit earlier than I thought so that I can take care of some of my things which needs to be taken care of before leaving Finland.

In earlier post I told how we had already booked flights and reserved an apartment. Now I have few things I need to do and I’m going to write a little post about ’em.

Our flight arrives in Amsterdam 20th August in the evening, so we need to take a train to Breda. I think that Pirita and I will arrive there about eight o’clock. Problem is that we can’t get to our apartments until 21st of August.

So we needed to book a hotel room for a one night. We reserved nice hotel near Breda Central station so it’s easy to get there after a long day of travelling.

Secondly, I needed to take care of travel insurance and subscription medicines. Many of the travel insurances only last continuous three months so I bought a travel insurance for two extra months.

I also had to call Jyväskylä Central hospital and arrange my subscription to my medication so that I can get enough medicine for the whole five month stay in the Netherlands before I leave.

I also paid a thought for student loan and came to that decision that extra money wouldn’t do any harm. So I decided to draw some money from the bank. Exchange year is so unique and ”once in a lifetime” experience that I dont want to miss something fun because my bank account tells me not to.

Only less than two weeks left here in Finland. Now I’m going to enjoy my little summer vacation and maybe go to summer cottage to fish, relax a bit and of course sauna!

Getting excited already! Breda here we come!

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Apartment check! Flight check!

I’m going for a five month exchange period to Breda, Netherlands. This is my first blog post and I’m going to write about how I got my student apartment for the stay. I’m also going to write how and when we are gonna travel to the Netherlands!

I applied for student exchange and fulfilled big pile of papers for my application. In the same process we had an option to apply for a student apartment which would be offered to us by the school where we’re going to study next five months, NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences.

So, few weeks earlier I got a message about the student apartments. I received a notification that soon we all will receive a unique code which provides access to reservation system. Reservations started on July the first. Unfortunately my code wasn’t in my e-mail’s inbox that day. After little bit of searching and confusion I found it from my spam box two days afterwards.

The worst was when the apartment reservation was made so that the fastest applicants got the best and cheapest apartments. First lesson learned the hard way. You gotta be quick.  So me and Pirita were little bit late ’cause we didn’t found our codes right away. But we still could get an apartment, although it was little more expensive that we were hoping for. We made a reservation for four people apartment which has four individual rooms and shared kitchen, bathroom, two toilets and living room. The apartment itself was brand new and looked really nice. The rooms were pretty big (15 square meters) and the location was pretty good also. Distance to school was approximately three kilometers and to the Breda city center about two kilometers. There is also big supermarket next to our apartment, which is awesome and makes life a lot easier.

We had to pay not-complete rent months (ten days in August and 17 days in January), September’s rent and deposit fee of 250 euros. So, we made the reservation and paid all the costs. After that we received confirmation e-mail that the payment was received and our apartment is ready for us starting 21st August. Feels great and I’m already waiting for arrival!

When apartment was rented for the exchange period, we decided to also book our flight to the Netherlands. We used Skyscanner-website to compare prices of the flights and we found out that the cheapest way to the Netherlands was to take a flight from Helsinki to Amsterdam and then travel by train from Amsterdam to our destination Breda.

We made a decision to fly with Norwegian. It was the cheapest of the flights, only 89€ and you can take two big travel bags with you at no extra cost. We have to change planes in Copenhagen, but I don’t mind that when we have plenty of time so we can visit Copenhagen city center on the way to Amsterdam.

So, pretty much everything is ready in Breda for our arrival. Next I’ll have to start thinking what i’m going to pack. That will be easier for me than to Pirita!

 

Tot later! (“See you later” in dutch) 🙂


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