Can you provide me with advice for a summer in Holland?
March 17, 2011 6:15 PM   Subscribe

Can you provide me with some useful advice in preparation for my summer in Holland?

Hi everyone,

I recently received an internship in The Hague, Netherlands, and will be living there for a little over two months this summer. Seeing as the hive mind is the best resource I know, I figured I would come here seeking useful advice. A few questions that I have are:

1) Do you think it would be worthwhile to learn Dutch beforehand? I know that the Dutch are likely the best English speakers in Europe, but I have the Dutch version Rosetta Stone and thought that it would be useful to know the basics before I travel. I also thoroughly enjoy meeting new people and making friends with locals, so I figure learning the language would be a useful tool. Thoughts? Is it worth the effort?

2) Any advice as to how I should find an apartment in the Hague? I am waiting to hear back from someone at the organization at which I am going to work regarding housing, but perhaps you know better.

3) Where do you recommend that I travel during my stay in Europe? I will be visiting family in Paris before I will arrive, and then will have 8 weeks at the internship. I was thinking to split the weekends I have in Europe and try to visit Barcelona, Berlin, London (to see a friend), and Rome (to see another friend). Is this too ambitious? Should I instead try to absorb the experience in Holland?

I'm sure I will have more questions in due time, but please also just respond with any advice that may be useful to me as I prepare to spend a summer in Holland!

Much love <3
posted by masters2010 to Society & Culture (5 answers total)
Everyone I met in my summer in the Netherlands spoke perfect English. But if you want to spend some time learning a little Dutch beforehand, why not? I couldn't even read (silently or out loud) Dutch words on street signs when I got there (too many letters and especially vowels) so that would be one obvious benefit.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:29 PM on March 17, 2011

I spent two weeks in The Hague and only had one instance where I had to resort to mime (it was a clothing shop in Oostbroek). The day I spent in Delft presented no problems, not even when the tram broke down and we had to get off and wait for another.

However, speaking the language never hurts. It's definitely polite. And Dutch seems pretty easy for English speakers.

I basically spent my two weeks wandering around the city, the day trip to Delft, and sitting in the beach bars/cafes in Scheveningen. I wish I'd gone to Bruges and Brussels though!

Oh, and this may or may not help!
posted by elsietheeel at 8:04 PM on March 17, 2011

Best answer: 1. You will have to work hard finding anyone under 60 who doesn't speak perfect English in the Netherlands. That said, many Dutch menus/signs aren't in English. I would work more on being able to read Dutch than to speak it.

2. No idea.

3. If I were you, I would consider staying local while in the Netherlands. I find that when traveling, I always appreciate depth over breadth. I spent a few weeks biking around the eastern portion of the country and it was amazing! Consider joining "Friends of the Bike" (or "Vrienden op de Fiets" in Dutch) an organization that hooks up bikers and people willing to host them for a nominal fee.

If you do manage to make it out of Den Haag, remember that while outsiders use the name Holland interchangeably with the Netherlands, many of the country's inhabitants who don't live in North and South Holland (i.e., those in the remaining ten of the twelve provinces) really resent when you refer to the entire country that way.

Have fun!
posted by funkiwan at 8:57 PM on March 17, 2011

Best answer: I am living in Sweden, but have been working in Den Haag a few days a month for the last three years.

1. English is widely spoken, as are German and French. You do not need to speak Dutch, but as others have observed it helps to be able to read some signs and understand the announcements on the trains. "Dank u wel" - thank you very much - is nonetheless very useful.

2. Live in Delft if you can which is the most charming city in the Netherlands. Trams, busses run frequently between Den Haag Centraal and Delft.

3. I would not plan to travel too far. Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam are easy accessible by train, but if I were you I would take the chance to travel to small places that you probably would not otherwise have a chance to visit. Aachen in Germany, for example, is worth a visit. Texel, one of the islands in Northwest Holland, is really cool.


BUY A BICYCLE straight away. A cheap, beater Dutch bike will be invaluable.

Make sure you know the PIN codes for all of your credit cards. You will need it for pretty much every purchase you make.

Bring some warm clothes and rain gear. Dutch summers are not always summerlike.

Have fun!
posted by three blind mice at 1:52 AM on March 18, 2011

Alstublieft is a useful dutch word. It means please, but you can practically have entire conversations with just that and dank u wel. Food words are helpful to know if you don't want to keep your phrasebook open all the time.

I would stay reasonably close by for travel and visit places you probably won't go to otherwise (Bruges, Brussels, Cologne). Obviously you must go to Amsterdam and eat fries with mayo or peanut sauce.
posted by plonkee at 5:35 AM on March 18, 2011

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