[Aiden Perrins | Contributing Writer]
So, my year abroad has begun, almost a month in now and it’s starting to feel like my home from home. First of all, I need to say that Utrecht is a beautiful city, a perfect mix of the vibrant city centre with wonderful buildings, and luscious green countryside. Okay, so I might be using a lot of adjectives, but this place is really worth it. You can’t say anything about this city without using that kind of description.
The first thing you’d notice when you arrive at any Dutch city would be the bikes. There are bikes absolutely bloody everywhere. I myself now have a bike, but these are nothing like ‘English’ bikes, oh no. These bikes are messed up. Let’s say you have to stop, you would normally pull the brakes on the handlebar right? Wrong. You have to pedal backwards to brake in this country. So there I am as an Englishman riding on the right side (or the wrong side in my opinion) trying to work this damn bike and not crash into other bikes, pedestrians and even inanimate objects.
As for the language barrier? There isn’t one. Almost everybody speaks perfect English. There are even some signs that have an English translation written below the Dutch, like they do in Wales. It also helps that a lot of Dutch words are similar to English words, so when reading you can generally work out a fair few words, and possibly understand the gist of the sentence.
Naturally, the most important part of study abroad is the actual studying. Just kidding, it’s the partying. Although Utrecht is not a typical party town, there are a fair few good places to go out, and I have been sure to take full advantage of this. Riding a bike home after a night out is always a fun adventure too. As an added bonus, alcohol is cheaper over here than in England, and beer is basically a staple food, which is fantastic!
If anybody reading this is considering study abroad, then I strongly suggest you go for it. Meeting people from around the world and living in a different country is a great experience for anyone with even the slightest sense for adventure.