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Wat is er dan leuk aan Rotterdam?

March 5 2020

 Er zijn geen mooie oude gebouwen, de mensen zijn bot, geen grachten en de geweldige nieuwe architectuur is ook niet altijd mooi. Zo ging het altijd. Zodra ik tegen mensen zei dat ik in Rotterdam woonde, moest ik de stad verdedigen waar ik ben geboren of getogen. In het verleden riep ik regelmatig, joh dan blijf je toch lekker weg? Maar later zei ik, je hebt gelijk. Rotterdam is niet de makkelijkste stad om van te houden. Rotterdam is als de mensen die er wonen, je moet er een beetje moeite voor doen, je moet weten waar het leuk is, waar je mensen tegenkomt waar je veel mee gemeen hebt, of juist eens naar een plek gaan waar je Rotterdammers tegenkomt die een compleet, vaak ongezouten andere mening hebben dan jij. 

Dat zou zomaar een Rotterdammer kunnen zijn die hier niet is geboren en getogen. In deze stad leven honderden verschillende nationaliteiten naast elkaar, zonder grote problemen. Nee, ik ga mijn stad niet overdreven romantiseren, er zijn hier zeker wel problemen. Zoals armoede en laaggeletterdheid, maar de mensen met roots in andere delen van de wereld zeggen na een tijdje wonen in Nederland sneller:  Ik ben een Rotterdammer, dan ik ben een Nederlander en dat vind ik mooi, want laten we vooral kijken naar wat ons verbindt, hoe we met zijn allen deze stad nog mooier kunnen maken. En het werkt. In steeds meer lijstjes staat Rotterdam boven aan als beste stad om een keer te bezoeken. Leuk, zeker voor het toerisme, maar ook minder leuk (hé zoals gezegd, ik ben een Rotterdammer, dus een beetje zeiken hoort er zeker bij…..) want zien de bezoekers wel de schoonheid, of liever gezegd de lelijkheid van de stad?  

In mei 2020 komen we erachter of de stad echt klaar is voor enorme stroom toeristen want dan komt het grootste liedjesfestijn ter wereld hier naartoe het Eurovisie Songfestival. Als groot liefhebber van dit geweldige evenement, kan ik niet wachten om al mijn songfestival vriendjes de mooiste rotstad van land te laten zien. En sta mij toe om hem nog één keer aan te halen, één van de grootste Rotterdammers ooit. Die zoveel beter dan ik onder woorden kan brengen wat deze stad is, Rotown Magic, van de enige echte nachtburgemeester van de stad, Jules Deelder. 

Rotown magic


Rotterdam is niet te filmen

De beelden wisselen te snel

Rotterdam heeft geen verleden

en geen enkele trapgevèl


Rotterdam is niet romantisch

heeft geen tijd voor flauwekul

is niet vatbaar voor suggesties

luistert niet naar slap gelul


t Is niet camera-gevoelig

lijkt niet mooier dan het is

Het ligt vierkant hoog en hoekig

gekanteld in het tegenlicht


Rotterdam is geen illusie

door de camera gewekt

Rotterdam is niet te filmen

Rotterdam is vééls te ècht


Sherill Samson Docent Nederlands @Una Paloma Blanca

How I Learned to Love the Podcast.

February 3 2020

How I Learned to Love the Podcast.


Moving to another country can be really hard.  Besides all the obvious fun stuff( like seeing new architecture, exploriing new cities, and meeting new people), there are a few difficult aspects of moving to a completely different place.  Until I moved to a country where the language was different, I hadn’t really realized how much language was a huge part of my life.  


When I first moved to the Netherlands, I missed being able to communicate with people around me randomly, like on buses or in grocery stores.  I missed those little every day moments of human contact that I was so used to back home.  Just a simple compliment on someone’s nails, or a question about a product in a store.  I missed it horribly.  


So when I found myself home alone, I started relying on podcasts to surround myself with conversation.  There was something so comforting about hearing people talking about all kinds of things, even if I couldn’t respond.  As I was scrubbing the floor of my bathroom or walking to the local grocery store, I was able to hear people chatting about anything and everything.   I felt a lot less lonely, and the fact that I tended to prefer comedy-oriented podcasts helped me stay positive and provided a lot of comfort.


The other great thing about listening to podcasts was how I was able to stay in touch with things that were happening back home.  Podcasts allowed me to stay informed about movies that were coming out, trends that were happening, and other aspects of American culture that helped me feel close to my family and friends.  


Nowadays, I feel much more at home here, my Dutch has improved quite a bit and I can now communicate to many of the people around me comfortably and confidently.  But one thing hasn’t changed:  podcasts are still a huge part of my daily life.  I look forward to new episodes every week, I am always looking for new shows to listen to, new things to learn about.  But there is one thing I have been meaning to do since I began understanding Dutch a lot better.  


I need to start listening to Dutch Podcasts. 


As a teacher, I am always trying to convince my higher level students to try listening to podcasts in English, because I can’t begin to stress how helpful it is to immerse yourself in a language while listening to something you are genuinely interested in.  And one of the great things about podcasts is that there is literally a podcast for any and every interest.   Grammar, Star Wars, politics, economics, or even just random conversations are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to podcast topics.  


So I am definitely ashamed of myself a tiny bit for not following my own advice and looking for a Dutch podcast or two to throw into my rotation.   Maybe if I start listening to a local podcast I can start to become even more fluent and comfortable with the language!


Ive been able to find a few leads with a few internet searches, but some recommendations would be welcomed (hint, hint) ).  



Deseree Gonzalez American English teacher @Una Paloma Blanca Language School

Humans of Rotterdam - Sophielize

January 10 2020

Humans of Rotterdam - Sophielize


Nestled on the banks of the Maas River, Holland’s 2nd biggest city has been busy making a name for itself. Now a thriving hub for expats and locals alike, Rotterdam is a jewel in the Dutch crown. I spoke to Sophielize - a born and bred Rotterdammer, to hear first-hand about what makes Rotterdam… Rotterdam. 

So, let’s jump right in…

What is your first memory of Rotterdam? 

“First memory? Um, well it isn’t my first memory but I remember when I first drove on the highway from The Hague to Rotterdam. There’s a part of the highway where the road is really high, and you have a great view of the city from there. Every time I see it, I’m reminded of how beautiful the city really is. It always makes me feel very proud of my city.”

What would you say is your favourite area of Rotterdam? 

“We have so many different areas of Rotterdam, every area [has it’s] own good and bad stuff. 

Different areas have different purposes – I grew up in the north of Rotterdam so that’s very familiar to me and it is the only place I’ve ever lived, actually. I’ve never come out of the north. My grandparents lived in the north, my parents still do… 

Rotterdam was always quite a poor city – with a lot of working people so we have a few areas that really represent that. On the other hand, Hilsberg and Kralingen are both the expensive ‘rich people’ areas – and those have very nice, old houses that [weren’t] destroyed in the war. Overschie, that’s also an area I like a lot – because of the old and tiny houses, walking through there you feel like you’re in a theme park, almost. 

… And we have the Witte de With straat, I like that a lot too – We have the Wereld Witte de With, it’s like a festival, but I think they stopped it 2 years ago, it was really nice, I loved it. They would close down the whole Witte De With, and put up stands with music, food and it was sort of like a street festival for a couple of days. So, I guess I’ve always been drawn to Witte de With…”


Let’s say someone comes to Rotterdam for the first time, and tells you they only have 1 hour here – where do you take them to show them the real Rotterdam? 

“1 Hour? So short – Normally you’ll take someone to the Euromast and go to the Watertaxi – and go to the SS Rotterdam, or to the Hotel New York. 

For me, probably the Saturday market – I think that’s a good place. You can see all the different cultures of Rotterdam –  all kinds of people, and they all go together shopping, bargaining and going for their weekly groceries. 

You can see the old Dutch market [vendors] shouting “cheap fish” – and then you have a lot of Turkish stands, with fruits, vegetables or herbs. 

I think the market has a nice combination of people – It has been there forever – every Tuesday and Saturday.”

Is Rotterdam changing? 

“Yes – It is changing quite a lot… and for the [better] of course. You’ve probably noticed the amount of people – tourists – and also the focus on tourists. 

They have tried to improve certain areas of Rotterdam, to make them better but that also makes it more expensive – you see that a lot in western countries, I think. 

They’ve also been implementing a plan to make the city centre look better – which is really interesting to see. They’ve been busy making the sidewalks bigger and trying to get the cars out of the city centre – focusing more on pedestrians. 

I think, if you’d have asked people 10 years ago what Rotterdam would look like today they probably wouldn’t have told you that it would be so expensive.”

What are your hopes for Rotterdam in the future? 

To find a balance 

It [wouldn’t be] Rotterdam anymore if we lost our working class mentality – I think that’s what makes Rotterdam people very kind as well. I actually think we came in 4th worldwide, in a study on which cities are the most kind and welcoming – by Travel Bird, maybe – I’m not sure. I think Rotterdam people are very open-minded and willing to help other people. 

On the future - “To keep on growing – that’s good. But not lose our identity.” 

Rotterdam is a place where people come to be free, take risks, and be a part of something bigger than themselves. The city feels like a family home, a place where no matter your background, or your reasons for being here – you’re welcomed, and part of the Rotterdam story. 




Conor Prince - English teacher @Una Paloma Blanca Language School

Nachtburgermeester van Rotterdam Jules Deelder

December 20 2019

Wie van taal houdt, houdt van poëzie. Poëzie is vaak romantisch, mystiek en spiritueel. Dat geldt niet voor de Rotterdamse poëzie weten we van ‘de nachtburgermeester van Rotterdam’, Jules Deelder. Deze titel heeft hij gekregen omdat hij een belangrijke rol speelt in het nachtleven van Rotterdam. Schrijver, dichter, muzikant, performer en groot liefhebber van de Rotterdamse Jazz scene. Met zijn nuchtere Rotterdamse stijl en taalgebruik raakt hij menig Rotterdammert diep in het hart. Op vele gebouwen en op straat kom je zijn werk tegen. Al fietsend door de Maastunnel lees je het gedicht voor zijn dochter Ari:

‘Lieve Ari 
Wees niet bang 
De wereld is rond 
en dat istie al lang 
De mensen zijn goed 
de mensen zijn slecht 
Maar ze gaan allen 
dezelfde weg 
Hoe langer je leeft 
hoe korter het duurt 
Je komt uit het water 
en gaat door het vuur 
Daarom lieve Ari 
Wees niet bang 
De wereld draait rond 
en dat doettie nog lang’ 

Gisteren overleed deze vertegenwoordiger van Rotterdam en daarom wappert de vlag met groen wit groen halfstok aan de gevel van het stadhuis. Al is hij er zelf niet meer, blijft zijn werk dagelijks inspireren. Kijk dus vooral bewust om je heen als je door Rotterdam loopt, want er is meer te zien dan je denkt in deze stad. 


Solmaz Hamayeli Mehrabani

5 Dutch Sweets to Satisfy Your Sugar Cravings!

October 24 2019

If you have a sweet tooth, the Netherlands is a great place to try new sweets. From mini pancakes to chocolate sprinkles, the Dutch offer a myriad of cookies, cakes and sugary toppings. Here are five definitely worth a taste!

1. Poffertjes
These mini pancakes are a sweet treat found at markets and during holidays, as well as in supermarkets. Though often served with hot butter and powdered sugar, you can douse your poffertjes in syrup or other sweet sauces, or add fruit to the top. Lighter and airier than traditional Dutch pancakes, these bite-sized treats are perfect for a snack or as an addition to a nice breakfast.

2. Kruidnoten
Available from October through Sinterklaas in early December, these bite-sized treats are a tradition across the Netherlands. Aniseed, cinnamon, white pepper and ginger give these cookies a unique flavor that once tried, people often find addicting. From the time they hit the grocery store shelves, you will find them being offered to you by friends and colleagues alike, so enjoy!

3. Hagelslag
Hagelslag, the most-consumed Dutch sweet, is the equivalent of sprinkles. The Dutch, however, do not use it as an ice cream topping, but rather on bread with a thick layer of butter. This can be a part of breakfast or lunch—or both! Over 750,000 slices of bread with hagelslag are consumed every day and over 14 million kilos of hagelslag are consumed every year. This popular topping comes in a range of chocolate flavors as well as fruit flavors so you can pick your favorite or keep your bread interesting by switching it up!

4. Stroopwafels
Originating in the city of Gouda, these cookies are popular throughout the Netherlands and abroad. Made up of two thin cookies joined together by a caramel filling, there is no shortage of sweetness. You can find stroopwafels almost anywhere: from markets to grocery stores, and vending machines to cafés. Best eaten lukewarm and with a cup of hot tea, you can warm your cookie by placing it over the top of your teacup for a minute before diving in.

5. Suikerbrood
Sugary breads can be found throughout the Netherlands, but what sets this Frisian treat apart is the amount of sugar in the bread—sometimes 40% more than other breads! In addition to the already sweet recipe, you find lumps of sugar throughout the bread. For some, this is the perfect addition to a celebratory breakfast, such as a birthday, but for others, the incredible amount of sweetness is best paired with a midday cup of coffee or tea. Either way, add some butter to your slice and let this suikerbrood melt in your mouth! 

Written by Emma Mayhood, an English teacher at Una Paloma Blanca. She is originally from Columbus, Ohio but was able to call the Netherlands home for the second time in early 2019. In addition to teaching English, she enjoys biking around Eindhoven, exploring new cities, and indulging in Dutch sweets.