By Madeline Reddington
Welcome to another installment of some Euro-wisdom, Dutch style!
Let’s talk about Stroop. It’s a syrupy substance favored by the Dutch and the main ingredient in “Stroopwafels,” a sugary little snack that I may or may have developed a slight addiction to in Amsterdam. It’s quite different from the Maple syrup we’re used to eating with our pancakes.
…And speaking of pancakes, some friends and I ventured to a little pancake house about half a block from where I lived, where we discovered the wonders of Dutch pancakes–they will stuff a pancake with pretty much anything under the sun if it’s edible. Also, it was at this fateful (and delicious) breakfast that we decided to add Stroop as a vocabulary word, as in “Stroopse, I forgot to bring the poptarts,” “Stroop, there it is!” or my current favorite, “you make me wanna stroop, stroop-a-doop, stroop-a-doop, stroop-a-doop-a-doop-a-doop.”
Another wonderful part my Amsterdam experience was bicycling all over the city. There are express lanes for bikes all over the place, which makes it the most efficient way to travel. Also, it gives you full authority to yell at any bumbling tourist herds that wander their way into your lane of traffic.
Being an aggressive driver and therefore aggressive biker, I was glad to see that most people are responsive to a bike bell. The crappy thing is that the bell on my bike broke within a couple of days, and since I didn’t really feel like yelling “ding ding!” at people, I dealt with a bit of irritation until I got a new one. Sometimes I said “sorry,” which is basically the Dutch way to say “excuse me,” but I found that it isn’t very effective and certainly didn’t feel satisfying to say. Sorry??? They should be sorry they are standing out taking up the bike lane! It’s like having to say “fudge you” when you really want to tell someone (politely of course) to f*ck off.
Anyway, a friend of mine also had that problem when her bell imploded on itself–as she furiously rang it at a crowd of tourists in front of the Anne Frank Huis, it fell apart, flew off the bike, bounced across the street and landed in the canal. One can only imagine how fantastic that scene must have been.
Some of the things I noticed that seem to be the same everywhere: little kids are cute, motorcycle gangs are irritating, and the rituals of the Greek community appear to be equally ridiculous. My first experience with some frat boys was seeing some in a bar dressed up in suits who were participating in a hazing event. The only difference I saw between these and the ones I’ve seen back at home was the long hair. I also saq boys hanging about in speedos at Vondelpark, girls dressed up in what appeared to be costumes of Mrs. Trunchbull from Matilda in Dam square and groups of young adults bicycling to some event wearing ridiculous costumes at 2 in the afternoon. And the weirdest part about the costumes was that I could find no unifying element; there were animals, disco dancers, ballerinas, roller-skaters, the list goes on.
Whether they’re doing it in regular clothes or animal getups, the Dutch definitely do know how to party. One of my favorite things to do at home in my lovely apartment was to sit up in the windowsill and watch the boats full of partyers float by on the canal. My window was at the perfect height for people-watching. I’d say it was just high enough to be able to spit on people’s heads, but not nearly high enough for it to be worth the risk–they’d still be able to tell it was you.
Anyway, at all hours of the day, boats loaded with Dutch people and/or tourists would come floating down the canal, often bumping loud techno music. They are almost always playing “We No Speak No Americano,” while fist-pumping furiously. Watching these individuals packed onto boats as they float down the canal at midday was quite amusing–I thought they looked like ants on a log.
Aaaand speaking of partying, this brings us to the next vocab word for the day: TTFO–T*tsed the F*ck Out. This can mean 2 things: Being dressed to the nines and/or wearing some kind of wild outfit, or being ridiculously inebriated.
So on the last night of ISN orientation, there was an animal-themed rave party that went until 4 am. Of course, I happened to find an awesome leopard onesie at a store near my house and decided to wear it. So I was TTFO, I was looking ridiculous, it was awesome and I was stoked for the party as I rode over to my friend’s apartment to hang out and pre-game for the party. Unfortunately, I ended up getting TTFO in terms of the second definition as well. Due to a combination of exhausted, jet lag and alcohol, I was forced to go home early in the b**** seat on the back of my friend’s bike. Luckily the leopard onesie also makes fantastic pajamas.
And it’s a good thing too, because about a week later I once again tried to wear out the leopard onesie, and once again found myself sleeping in it instead of wearing it to the desired event. Lesson learned. And of course, the final vocab word of the day is: leopard fail. Epic f*cking leopard fail.