The Netherlands | Semester Exchanges Blog

Howdy!

When I wrote my first blog post, I was not in the same place that I am now. I was still making my first friends and had not gotten a full appreciation of Maastricht yet. Well, my time abroad has done nothing but fly by! I am currently about to finish exams and do one last go-around of Europe with my family before coming home now.

To anyone who may gloss over studying in Maastricht because Dutch city names sound made up or may not be well known to Americans (myself included before studying here), I ask that you reconsider your options and give a look to Maastricht. This city has so much to offer in the literal heart of Europe (as the European Union was created here), cities such as Cologne, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Bruges are all within 3 hours of Maastricht by train. Even better, Brussels and Amsterdam are also airports with cheap flights across Europe as we got to travel to cities such as Munich, Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Bratislava, and Stockholm over the course of this semester. While the traveling is incredibly convenient, the city and university have so much to offer and shouldn’t be glossed over for bigger and more known cities. Maastricht University is more than 50% international, non-Dutch students, and there is a very large number of fellow exchange students. In my friend group, I am the only student from the US, with friends from Italy, France, Spain, England, Germany, and Greece.

Being close to so many internationals really opens your eyes to the world, and communication is not a problem as everyone speaks almost perfect English. Further, The Netherlands is literally THE best country in the world for English proficiency as a second language, from the checkout line scanner to the waiter. English is no problem which is pretty amazing, unless you are trying to learn Dutch then nobody lets you struggle in your practicing as they suggest switching to English right away! The city is also incredibly beautiful with a ton of history dating back to the Romans and even one of the Three Musketeers dying in Maastricht. We often found ourselves sitting outside at cafes and in the park soaking in the sun and studying together, or we’d go to cafes in the two main squares of Maastricht and just soak in such an awesome city. Maastricht is very much a student city and felt very vibrant and never once felt dead.

The university is really unorthodox though, as the university chooses to use a PBL (Problem Based Learning) system, where students prepare the material before “tutorials,” or small learning groups of no more than 12 students, discuss the material, and fill in the gaps of the subject as it is self-taught. While you have to stay on top of your work weekly, the learning format of actually getting to know your peers in such a small discussion group, compared to a 300-person lecture, allows you to meet local students and exchange students in a meaningful way. Also, courses are broken up into two “periods” where each period consists of two courses, so the workload is broken up nicely.

I would recommend the spring semester to those considering Maastricht, as there are a ton of public and national holidays during the spring that allows you to really experience Dutch culture. Koningsdag (the Dutch king’s birthday) was my favorite holiday, as it was in the middle of the week, we got a break from classes where everyone in the region came to Maastricht to celebrate in the streets from 10:00 in the morning until midnight, the whole city had live music and turned itself into a massive flea market on all the streets. The King himself even celebrated in Maastricht, as he celebrates in a different Dutch city each year, so Maastricht was especially electric this time.

In short, Maastricht is an amazing city, and Maastricht University is a great place to spend your semester abroad, to branch out and make friends from across the world while staying in the heart of Europe!

Categories: The Netherlands

Today is my 11th day in Maastricht, and while it has not always been the easiest settling into a foreign country, I have loved my experience so far. The city of Maastricht is not super big, making the city super walkable, leaving the opportunity to explore all that Maastricht has to offer! On arrival in the Netherlands, I had to quarantine for 5 days due to COVID, while my time alone in the hotel was frustrating, it did give me a chance to slow down and settle into this new and foreign environment–which was also made easy as most Dutch people speak English as a second language, making the transition less frightening and more friendly to the standard American.

Once I got out though, I was still not able to experience the city at its best due to COVID restrictions, meaning there was a curfew on stores, and restaurants were not allowed to open (only takeout). I was still determined to get started on a high note, so I had the opportunity to walk around the city. Maastricht has an awesome city center that is beautiful and is only within a ten-minute walk from most other points in the city, as well as being in one of the only hilly parts of the Netherlands, there are a bunch of nature trails close to the city for students to get some fresh air.

As far as Maastricht University, they have a very unique approach to learning, called PBL (problem-based learning), where students will hold their own tutorials in groups of about 15 or so. This means students are supposed to come to their tutorials prepared with all the materials and discuss the units with other students, with grading being based on participation and a final exam. I personally like this approach as it makes the school feel smaller and you get a consistent group of students to work with and learn with. In addition to this, over half of the school is international students, meaning you will definitely get to meet people from other nationalities!

These are more general first impressions I got from the city and the school, and so far they leave an awesome taste in my mouth, outside of the COVID-19 restrictions. The biggest piece of advice I would give though about coming to Maastricht would be to join some sort of student organization before arriving, as it will make your time to adjust way easier, by having a network of other incoming exchange students to be able to hook up with, rather than coming out solo with no plan.

I am so excited for my time in Maastricht to get rolling! I know that my experience will only get better and better as the semester goes along, I would encourage anyone who is looking to participate in an exchange program to at the very least consider Maastricht!

Categories: 2022, Reciprocal Exchange, The Netherlands

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wXExRw8z-3uEm47YndUTIVRaHBiwFrkRkEW_3VDePSw/edit?usp=sharing

Above you will find a link for a google doc of a “Guide to Maastricht.” These are things I wish I would have known before going and some helpful links. Hope this will be useful for you or help answer some questions you may have (:

My time in Maastricht came to an end quickly. I was gone for 3 and a half months, and the time flew by. I enjoyed getting to meet people from all over the world and work on projects together for our courses. Oftentimes I was the only exchange student in my courses because there are only 15 students in a section. In my courses, the majority of the students were from the Netherlands, Germany, or Belgium. A stereotype that even the university pointed out is that Germans will be at the library when it opens and will want to receive the highest grade. Like all stereotypes, this is not true for everyone but you may notice it when working on groups projects. I enjoyed working with other students and found it to be very similar to working with students at A&M. Thankfully, everyone in my groups participated and contributed an equal amount. You may find that Dutch students are especially nice and friendly. Whenever I first arrived Dutch students were the ones to show me around campus and wanted to grab a coffee with me.

Studying abroad has helped broaden my global mindset and openness to different perspectives. People see the world completely differently than you and that is okay. Always listen to others and do not be afraid to share experiences you’ve had in life with others. I now have a better understanding of different cultures, languages, and food from around the world. Overall, I did not have a complete cultural shock, but I was surprised to find some of the food to have simple flavoring.

 

Dinner with friends from Portugal🇵🇹, Hong Kong 🇭🇰 , Italy 🇮🇹 , Brazil 🇧🇷 , Poland 🇵🇱 , France 🇫🇷 , Vietnam 🇻🇳 , and Taiwan 🇹🇼 !

Ice skating with Zuzia at Maastricht’s Christmas market

 

I celebrated my birthday while in Maastricht. My friends threw a surprise party for me it was so much fun 🤩 love these people

Categories: 2021, Reciprocal Exchange, The Netherlands

Due to Covid, my original country of choice got canceled, within two months I planned everything to study in Maastricht. To be honest I did not know Maastricht even existed before deciding to study here because it is a small town about the size of College Station. Finding housing was quite difficult with the housing crisis in Maastricht, but I managed to find housing within a 10-minute bike ride to the business school. At A&M there is a decent amount of students who bike to campus, however in The Netherlands everyone bikes and it is the main type of transportation. Whether it is going to the grocery store, campus, the city center, or the park you go by bike. Riding a bike brings me to the part where the unexpected happened early on in my time here.

Long story short, I thought I bruised my tailbone from not being used to riding a bike, but it turns out I had a cyst that had to be surgically removed. My first week here, having only known a couple of people for a week now and I am in the hospital needing surgery on my first day of class. Thankfully 87% of people in the Netherlands speak English so there were no language barriers when the doctors had to explain the procedure to me. I have been recovering very quickly from the surgery and am even able to ride the bike again. I did have to miss the first week of class but was able to go on campus the next week.

One thing that is very different about Maastricht Univerisity and A&M is the learning structure of classes. In The Netherlands, they use a teaching style called Problem Based Learning (PBL). My classes consist of only 15 students with a Tutor that helps guide the conversation. The Professor may post lectures, but mainly you are responsible for coming to class prepared by doing the necessary readings. Students work in small groups to teach and facilitate. The time of each class is two hours long, however it goes by fast with everyone contributing to the discussion. One thing I love about Maastricht University is how international its campus is with students coming from countries all over the world. I have been able to meet students from Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Brazil, Vietnam, Georgia, Canada, Pakistan, Poland, Austria, Finland, Hungary, and so many other countries. I have been able to enhance my Global Mindset here being surrounded by people from all over the world.

Although, I did not have a culture shock because the culture in The Netherlands is much like southern hospitality in the US. The Dutch people are very nice and willing to help if you need to ask for directions (I know from personal experience). The weather is rainy and cold, but there are still sunny and 75 days here. I have enjoyed my first couple of weeks in the beautiful city of Maastricht and cannot wait to see what is to come.

Categories: 2021, Reciprocal Exchange, The Netherlands

To say the least, this semester was not what I expected. While covid restrictions altered what I thought my exchange would look like everything exceeded my highest hopes.

Maastricht was such a lovely city to call home and thanks to the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) at the University I found new friends to call family. If you go on an exchange, I highly recommend connecting with the Erasmus Student Network or another similar student organization to help you connect with people and find your way around.

Because of travel restrictions, my first excursion was a Dutch road trip. I went with a few other exchange students that I met through ESN and we spent the whole weekend exploring the Netherlands. We visited Rotterdam, The Hague, Delft, Utrecht, and the Keukenhof Garden. In Rotterdam we picnic’d on the beach, walked the pier, and saw the parliamentary buildings, but the best part of the whole trip had to be the Keukenhof Garden. The Keukenhof Garden is one of the most famous spots in the Netherlands to see Tulips and it is definitely worth it! Pro-tip, you have to pay to get inside the Keukenhof Garden, but there are plenty of fields outside that are free to explore.

In addition to the cute city and new friends that contributed to my positive experience, the learning system at Maastricht University was so different from A&M and really challenged me as a student and professional. The problem-based learning system at Maastricht puts a lot of the responsibility of learning on the students. Instead of sitting in a professor’s lecture and taking notes, students take turns leading their peers in discussions, problems, and case studies. I found that this method allowed me to take ownership of the material and gave me the confidence that I was learning and understood the course. From my time in Maastricht University, I can truly say that I gained more confidence in my major and presentation skills.

Maastricht University was a great choice for my semester exchange and I would recommend it to everyone!

Categories: 2021, Reciprocal Exchange, The Netherlands

Getting to my exchange in Maastricht, Netherlands, was months of planning and lots of last minute hoping that it would not be canceled due to the current pandemic. As Natsuki knows, since my first of many visits to her office, going on exchange was always part of my plan and there was no way I was going to let this opportunity slip me by. Although I must say that it was a lot of luck and help from others that allowed me to arrive safely in Maastricht. I count myself lucky that my program continued despite the pandemic, knowing that may others did not have the same outcome.

When I landed in the Schriphol airport in Amsterdam all the cheesy signage saying things like “Your journey starts here” and “Welcome to below sea level” made me beyond giddy. I knew that this exchange would be a different experience than what I originally expected, but I am still very excited for what may come of my time here.

First things first, quarantine. Unfortunately, I had to spend my first ten days in Europe in a private hotel room, but it did give me the time to purchase a sim card, set up a European bank account, read a book, and learn a few Dutch phrases. When you come to Maastricht it is essential right away to get a Dutch phone number and European bank account, to make life easier and avoid large fees from your US bank and phone carrier. I ended up getting a sim card from Lebara and setting up an online bank account with N26, although there are several other good options to choose from such as bunq and Knab. I would recommend any student coming to the Netherlands for an exchange to choose an online bank account, because the typically Dutch bank, ING, takes several weeks to get an appointment with and requires you to first register with the municipality and receive a BSN (social security number, issued upon registration with your local municipality), which takes quite some time. Whereas an online bank account only requires a European phone number and took just a few minutes to set up.

Once I got out of quarantine, I immediately went exploring. Maastricht has the charm and ease of a small town, while still feeling like a little city. After just a day or two you can figure out how to get anywhere in Maastricht, as everything is easily assessable by foot or bike and there are several landmarks that guide the way. As one of the oldest cities in Europe, Maastricht has many historical monuments, churches, parks, a fortress, and neighborhoods to explore. Just make sure to be in a waterproof coat as you never know when it will start raining or when the Dutch might be washing their windows.

Then reality set in and school started. Although classes are currently online, I must say I really have been enjoying the education system at Maastricht University (UM). The semesters here are broken into two periods, so you only take two classes at a time but at a much quicker pace. In one way it is really nice to be able to truly focus on your subjects, rather than being split between five classes like at A&M, but on the other hand the quick pace makes it easy to fall behind if you procrastinate or have trouble with a concept. Keeping up with the preparation and readings is key! What I enjoy most about UM is the problem based learning system, which means that class time is devoted to case studies, application, and discussion. We barely spend any time in lectures. I enjoy this method a lot for more qualitative classes, like my strategy course, but for more quantitative classes, such as my international financial management course, I wonder if more instructional time would be more beneficial.

Overall, I am so excited for the rest of my time living in Maastricht, studying with a new learning approach, and hopefully exploring more of Europe when the travel restrictions ease up.

Lights at the Vrijthof.

 

View of the Maas and the city. (P.S. Kaas croissants are the best!)

 

Arrived in Maastricht!

 

The town hall built during the 17th century.

 

Night view of the old bridge.

 

Belgium waffles with my friend, Carolin.

 

Tulips from the Markt and Flaming Hot Cheetos, the only necessities.

Categories: 2021, Reciprocal Exchange, The Netherlands

To even begin at an attempt to fully convey the ineffable experiences I have lived through during the first 30 days of being in Europe would fall but a little short of insanity. I have gone through literal life times of experiences as I venture into territories and realms that up until this point have been hidden from me on the outside of a bubble most people I know live in called America.

Upon my arrival, things were immediately different. My surroundings, friends, language, food, societal norms, mode of transportation, and laws all completely changed the moment my foot stepped off of that plane. The day before, while being both excited and nervous simultaneously, I did not have a single expectation in my mind. I quite literally had no idea what to expect but knew one thing- this is my life and it is my journey that I will be the writer of. Studying abroad allowed this story to evolve into something that no other person has experienced or will ever experience. The things that have happened to me each and every day while here have been unique and special to me to the extent that I can say that with certainty.

I think a lot of this has to be because of the mindset that I came here with. If you have ever sat by a river and found yourself deep into contemplation, you might notice a piece of wood or draft would pinned between a boulder and the excruciating force of the current. I like to think of a lot of people as logs stuck to a boulder that they think will be their final position in life. However, it indeed is possible to train yourself to let go of that boulder, allowing a relief of all that force as you flow with the stream of life. When I came here I knew that a lot of things would be upside down from what I am used to, but I also knew that I have to ability to go along with whatever comes my way, going with the flow as I say. I have never stood by something so strongly: life is about the journey not the destination, everybody dies but most hardly live.

With this mindset, my experiences here have me been something I will say is the essence of what living is about. Creating and sharing memories and great moments with friends, all connected by love. It has yet to be a full month here and I have gone to more countries than I have gone to in my whole life combined, made friends that I would consider family and will continue to travel and enjoy life with for years to come. One of my favorite things about being in a place like this, in the circumstances that I am in, is that if you treat things like a video game, where you have a main mission for the day, but on the way to complete the main mission, countless side objectives that are all completely unique and unexpected each day will be created for you. The only way to ensure these side adventures come up is to like I said, “go with the flow” and be alert of how you can interact with locals.

The easiest (and sometimes necessary) way of going about this is using the google tactic. Yes I just made that term up, but hear me out as I have been effectively using it this whole time. So you have a problem or situation that would require some form of external help to resolve. This would for most people be google by default. After all, what can’t you find on the internet… right. Something google can not do however is continue the conversation with additional suggestions, stories, advice , and adventures to go on. This were it all ties together. Without the ability to get a SIM card over here until I sorted out an issue with my existing service provider, the internet was not an option. I was forced to ask countless strangers countless questions that have lead to countless new experiences and even friends. As I sit here writing this on the bus from Germany back to the Netherlands, I can not help but mention that this tactic might not go as smoothly with the Germans, as they were not the bunch to befriend strangers or even have the decency to not be rude about rejecting an honest interaction. Nevertheless, the Netherlands happens to be the exact polar opposite of Germany in regard to their people, as I have not had even a single mediocre interaction with a local. Yes, not only has each person been some of the most friendly people I have talked to, but they go above and beyond to help you and ensure that your day is going smoothly, as they would want the same done for them in a time of need. There have been moments like the time where I was completely stranded on a train moving through Brussels, with no service or idea how to read the itinerary that was given to me in a language I could not read a word of. Determining what stop to get off was critical, as my flight to Vienna was leaving South Brussels in only a few hours. Thankfully, to my rescue came a Dutch man with two kids with him enjoying their ride into Brussels for the day. He saw me stressing and after I asked him about where I was allowed to sit on the train, he continued on to help me realize the stop that I was going to get off at was in fact extremely far from where I thought it was. When I found this out I knew I was in a bad situation as I had no idea how to correct such a situation with the limited resources I mentioned above. Without this mans persistent help for the next 30 minutes on the train, I would have never made it to Vienna. He translated the maps for me, explained how the train system ran and which stops to get off, on , back off, and back on to. After all, my goal was to get from Maastricht, Netherlands to Vienna, Austria. Nothing short of crossing an entire foreign continent while alone and with no service. After 24 hours of traveling and using the google tactic, I finally made it and could reunite with my friends. Experiences such as this simply would not be possible if I did not make the choice to live here this semester. I’m excited for the rest of my time here!

Categories: 2020, Reciprocal Exchange, The Netherlands

It’s Time to Say Goodbye

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” – Winnie the Pooh. As my time in the Netherlands is coming to an end, I couldn’t agree more with good ole Winnie the Pooh. I feel extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to study abroad in the Netherlands and will miss the Netherlands, my friends, and my travels. It is a bittersweet time in the International Student Guesthouse since many of the exchange students are preparing to go back to their home universities. We all seem excited to see our old friends and family, but will miss our new international friends.

My main realization as the end of my study abroad experience approaches is that there is not enough time to do and see everything. My mind is constantly thinking of the many things I still want to do before I leave. I still want to travel to London, Paris, Rome, Norway, Prague, and Vienna. I also still want to do a few things in Maastricht. I want to explore the caves of Maastricht, go to the nearby indoor ski slope, and visit the Christmas market one last time. With only a week left in Maastricht and many chores/schoolwork that need attention, I will only get to do one or two of the fun things that are on my list. However, there is simply solution to this problem. I will simply come back to Europe. In fact, I want to visit Maastricht again and hopefully convince my new friends to pick a date for a study abroad reunion.

While saying goodbye is hard, I am more than ready to go home. A semester is a long time to be away from friends and family and being in a foreign country amplifies homesickness. I am tired of eating grocery food from the small nearby shop and am ready to reunite with my beloved Chick Fila, Chipotle, Layne’s, Papa Johns, Grub Burger, and especially my mom’s home cookin’! Additionally, my small dorm room that I share with my roommate Spencer seems smaller and smaller every day. I miss living in a house! There truly is no place like home.

Leaving the Netherlands also makes me a little bit nervous. Leaving reminds me of the same anxious feeling I had when first coming to the Netherlands. However, instead of opening a bank account, I need to close one. Instead of getting my residence permit, I need to retire it. Instead of checking into the dorm, I need to check out of it. There are many things on my to do list to ensure I correctly leave the Netherlands. I have found that many of these chores are just as much of a pain as they were when I was coming to the Netherlands. The chores are also difficult to accomplish because there are fewer instructions on things you need to do before leaving when compared to the instructions I received before coming to the Netherlands.

It is time for me to get back to those chores and finish studying for my final. To my international friends: I will miss you. To those back home: I will see you soon!

Categories: 2014, Reciprocal Exchange, The Netherlands

No Hair

This month my Spanish friends convinced me to shave my head. The idea came up Saturday night when they decided that someone should have the same haircut as Jan, a bald student from Czech Republic. I volunteered. Although I enjoy my new hairstyle, I picked a poor time of year to shave it since it is getting pretty cold in the Netherlands.

School’s a breeze but the GMAT is not

School has been pretty easy. I am only taking one class in the second quarter called Commercializing Science and Technology. The class is about learning how technology can be scaled and evaluating different markets for technology. I have enjoyed the class a lot! There are many unique classes at University of Maastricht to choose from, and the entrepreneurial classes are great. Two out of the three classes I have chosen to complete are in the “Entrepreneurial School” of Maastricht University, which has given me a chance to learn more about concepts related to starting a business.

Although school is fun and easy, I have been studying for the GMAT and trying to find an internship, which takes up a lot of time. I recommend studying abroad when you do not have to do any career related activities, so you can focus on making friends and travelling!

The Carnival!

I took a day off of school activities to celebrate Carnival this month. Carnival is a holiday that is celebrated mainly in the Southern Netherlands. Maastricht has one of the best Carnival celebrations in Europe in its city square called the Vrijthof. During the celebration, everyone dresses up in extravagant costumes and listens to live music while enjoying excellent drinks and food. I wore my lederhosen, the German Oktoberfest costume, to the event because I didn’t want to spend money on a new costume. There was a huge outdoor stage where different bands and dance groups would perform. All the songs were in Dutch, but many were American songs that were translated into Dutch. For example, they sang “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith but in Dutch. Of course, I sung along using the English words!

Time is running out!

I leave the Netherlands on December 21, 2014. I am fully adapted to my new home here in the Netherlands and am sad to let it go. I will miss my friends, the Dutch culture, my school, the Dutch architecture, riding my bike instead of driving a car, and of course Dutch chocolate. I am excited to reunite with my family and American friends though. Hopefully, I’ll have a few more stories to tell before I return home.

Until next time,

Brandon Knapp

Categories: 2014, Reciprocal Exchange, The Netherlands

Netherlands October Blog

 Getting in the Grove:

I’ve been in Maastricht for a little over two months now. While I feel like I have caught my grove and have my schedule down, there are still plenty of new experiences. I’ve made much better friends with the other international students and have a couple Dutch friends as well. I am starting to understand more of the Dutch culture and can also pick up on where people are from in Europe based on their accents. My friends and the Dutch have also taught me a couple lessons that have made my experience much better.

 

Lesson: Take Time

Last weekend, I went to Amsterdam on a “Men’s Trip” with 9 of my international friends. My Italian friend Tommaso would remind us to “take time guys, take time” whenever someone would try to hurry us along. Many of the Dutch also seem to understand how to “take time” and enjoy the present moment without worrying where they have to be next. There is no need to be constantly entertained. The simple phrase take time has taught me to be present throughout my Netherlands trip.

 

Lesson: Nothing goes against my plan

Another small lesson I’ve learned is to not expect things to go my way. When I go to the grocery to buy more coffee, I don’t actually expect the store to have coffee. It would be nice if there were coffee to buy, but the trip to the store itself is fun enough to make it worth getting out of my room. When I first arrived in the Netherlands, I learned that things operate “differently” here. Stores close early and have a small selection of items, finding your way can be difficult, setting up a Dutch bank account takes 6 different trips to the bank, and many more “different” things. Although I have adapted, which decreases the amount of times I mess something up, my attitude is still to expect nothing. With no expectations, life is full of pleasant surprises.

 

Study Abroad: You won’t regret it

 For those of you who are thinking of studying abroad, I can’t encourage you enough to do it. I’ve never heard of anyone who has regretted a study abroad experience, and I definitely understand why. One main reason to study abroad is to learn more how others live. In my opinion, American students are less “international” when compared with European students. Most of the European students I have met speak between two and four languages and know a lot about other countries’ cultures. I on the other hand only speak English and don’t know what language they speak in half of the European countries. However, I am learning.

Another benefit of studying abroad is learning different perspectives. For example, many students are not worried about having a plan after graduation. I stopped asking the seniors what job they wanted when they graduated because they thought it was a weird question. Many of the Dutch and other Europeans travel for a year or two after graduating. Then they might get a job or a Masters Degree or travel around the world some more. I think it is great that they are not worried about what job they will eventually apply for. It made me realize there are other paths besides attending college for four years, taking the summer off, and then going straight to work. Understanding how others live helps you better evaluate the way you want to live your life. While this may seem like a lesson any student studying abroad learns, it is particularly true for Maastricht. Living in the international dorm allows you to make friends from around the world and learn how they live. Maastricht is also considered the most culturally rich city in the Netherlands and was almost nominated as the cultural capital of Europe. Maastricht is the epitome of a cultural experience by offering both breadth and depth of cultural diversity.

 

Alcohol and Marijuana:

I’m sure many of you are curious about alcohol and marijuana use in the Netherlands. Although marijuana is legal, it is restricted to coffee shops and there is a new law that prohibits tourists from buying it in much of the country. While Amsterdam still offers weed to tourists in coffee shops, Maastricht has embraced the rule that marijuana cannot be sold to tourists. Marijuana use by locals is also pretty low when compared to other European countries. The Dutch don’t view smoking as the cool or rebellious thing to do and find that it is not necessary to have fun.

Alcohol is a different story. Alcohol is very common and the Dutch start drinking from an early age. It also seems that every social event has alcohol. During the first day of school we had welcome drinks in the business school. Also, my entrepreneurship class had free alcoholic beverages at its event. While drinking is common, the Dutch do not seem to get drunk often. They have learned how to drink in moderation quite well and look down on getting overly drunk. I hope this sheds some light on the “drug” aspect of the Netherlands.

Categories: 2014, Reciprocal Exchange, The Netherlands