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The Dutch winter and how to survive it
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This post belongs to category: Expat life in the Netherlands

The Dutch winter and how to survive it


Sometimes commonplaces might be true.

There is one that says: Southern Europeans struggle to survive in the Northern European winter. So, imagine to put an Italian girl in the middle of the Dutch winter and watch her try to survive!

The morning

Light-blue bike parked by a street wallShe gets ready to survive in Jumanji: big boots, scarf, cap, windcheater, rain jacket, hood, ski gloves and – of course – sunglasses.

She takes her bike. While she finishes to dry her seat, her glasses are becoming completely wet.

Start biking. The wind is against her – it is always against her! It is a strong cold wind that seems to be composed by many tiny blades that scratch her face. She hasn’t realized to have such amount of skin face uncovered!

After a while, she thinks she is smarter than the Dutch wind, so she changes direction.  The first big mistake of the day. Dutch wind is always smarter than you! Turned the corner she finds a wind wall. This is the moment she really takes into account the possibility to give up and go by walking. This is also the moment she mostly misses her Vespa. All around, other people ride fast and easy like in a sunny summer day. “I can’t give up now”, she thinks, while at the same time a woman with two kids overtakes her.

She can see her destination. “It is done”, she thinks. The second huge mistake of the day. It is never done until it is really done. She forgets the pedal brake – panic! – she tries to brake with her feet and she clumsily drops off her bike looking around with embarrassment.

Wet, tired and with an expression of fatigue carved on her face due to the wind, she crosses the doorstep of the building.

She seems to have finished all the energy of the day, but the day has just begun.

The Evening

People talking at restaurantItalian restaurant. Everybody wants to go to the Italian restaurant. “It will be the last big mistake of this day”, she thinks. She is convinced that it is possible to eat good Italian food only in Italy.

She comes in, and all around there is pizza smell, a proper pizza smell. Wow!

She is chatting with Dutch and international friends. Everybody speaks about their day. Somebody spent all day in a library. A public library with many International and Dutch books, free Wi-Fi and delicious banana bread. Super! Other visited different museums with a special card, very cheap and convenient. Great! Someone else went to a film library and watched several different old movies coming from all around the world. Fantastic! The Dutch friend shows at the table a video of his canoe training in a canal. He is also saying that during some winter if there is enough ice, it is possible to ice-skate on canals. Incredible!

Everybody ask her if the pizza is like those ones you can find in Italy. Definitely! She replies. She would have never thought to give this answer.

At the end of the dinner, a newcomer Italian waiter asks her some tips about surviving to the Dutch winter and she suddenly realizes that commonplaces are likely to not be true.

“Don’t worry” she replies with a big smile “you will survive and you will also enjoy it!”.


Agnese Soverini, Kickstart student

 What our students say about us

  • My experience with Kickstart has been highly beneficial in both developing language skills and improving my knowledge of the Dutch culture. Josien's support is always spot on and very intuitive in relation to personal circumstances. She spends a lot more than the official time allocated to really get to know her clients and her approach is customised accordingly. She was recommended to me by other Shell colleagues who expressed the same sentiment and I was fortunate enough to benefit from this during the time I spent with her.

    Vennasa van de Ven, Migration Manager working at Shell

  • Entering the Kickstart school premises alone gives you a push of energy and the commitment this will help to create is hardly unmatched in any other language school. The methodology and the approach used in the lessons also helps smoothly unlock the secrets of everyday Dutch. Kickstart School has helped me get in touch with the 'undutchable' culture of the Netherlands and its people. The individual language training I could experience at Kickstart School has been one of the best educational experiences I could have in Europe.

    Alessandro d’Addario, European Law Enforcement 

  • I really enjoyed my English lessons with the Kickstart School. The teacher was professional and really knew the subject. The way they teach is also great! The classes are presented in a clear and professional manner and the online exercises completed at home are very helpful. The teacher always provided useful feedback. It's a great experience to join a Kickstart course with such a friendly atmosphere of students and teachers.

    Beatriz Pedroche, Spain 

  • Kickstart has been the ideal place for me to learn. The teachers are very helpful and friendly and have always gone the "extra mile" to help me learn in a positive way. Their teaching is practical with elements that can immediately be applied to everyday living situations. Included in the lessons are cultural aspects of living in the Netherlands that make learning Dutch dynamic and fun; you learn the language and about the place and the people! The teachers took an active interest in my progress and provided valuable customized sessions that maintained my strengths and developed my weaknesses; all in a patient, fun and friendly style.

    Graeme Ting, dentist from New Zealand 

  • My first contact with Kickstart School was after 1 month of living in The Netherlands, when I started to study Dutch. At the time I didn’t have any knowledge of the language, but with their courses organized by levels I developed important language skills and learned about the Dutch culture. They all do a great job at Kickstart because their motto it’s not just a motto – they are really pleased to teach you. You learn a language in a friendly atmosphere, make new friends from all over the world, and all in a cosy building right in the heart of The Hague.

    Anca Boros, mathematics and physics teacher from Romania

  • During my time with Kickstart I have learned a lot and gained confidence. I was always challenged by the interesting assignments, but never too much. I have really enjoyed the classes!

    Sabine de Bruijn, Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

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