Tijs Buskermolen’s first impression of the United States: really big. Buskermelon, a sophomore business major from the Netherlands, was born in Aalsmeer, a town eight miles southwest of Amsterdam. Tijs’ first encounter with American culture happened during his visit in Oregon when he was very young. He came to the States once again as a 15-year-old and this time he came to Goshen College to visit his sister who was a student here.

Facts about the Netherlands:

· The capital of this country is Amsterdam, although the government is situated in The Hague

· The official language is Dutch

· The Netherlands occupies 16,033 square miles of land, which is about twice the size of New Jersey

· A round trip ticket to Amsterdam costs around $800

Q: What is considered one of the most significant customs or celebrations in the Netherlands?

One of the most significant celebrations is called Santa Claus and is celebrated on December 5. It is similar to Christmas in the U.S. The festivities begin toward the end of the day when all the extended family members come together to eat and exchange presents. There’s not a traditional meal connected to this day.

Another important celebration we have is the Queen’s Day, celebrated on Queen Juliana Wilhelmina’s birthday (she was the queen of the Netherlands from 1948 to 1980). Throughout the day, everybody goes out on the streets to sell their old things—similar to the garage sales in the U.S. The main streets are closed for traffic since people usually sell their things in the main parts of the city. The participants wear orange because it’s the country’s color. At night the celebration continues in the parties around town.

Q: What is your favorite food and drink from the Netherlands?

I like Dutch pancakes. They are similar to the American ones, but are not as thick. I like to eat them with sugar but people put jam or any other topping on them. My mom, sister or grandmas usually make the pancakes. When I was a little kid, my grandma always used to make me these pancakes. My mom might be mad when she sees this, but I like my grandma’s pancakes better.

In the Netherlands, we don’t really have a traditional drink. A lot of people drink Heineken—a famous Dutch brand of beer. I don’t really have a favorite drink. I like Coca-Cola, Sprite, orange juice, milk…

Q: What are some of the most popular places to visit in the Netherlands?

That’s quite easy – Amsterdam. There are a lot of clubs and fun museums in Amsterdam. There is a river running through the city and people can take a boat trip and go around the city. There are a lot of small cafes and old buildings as well.

A lot of people also visit the tulip fields, which are about 30 minutes away from Amsterdam. The fields are big and have tulips in different colors. You can either walk through the fields or look at them from higher up on a hill.

Q: What would your typical day in the Netherlands look like?

I wake up at 7 a.m. and eat breakfast with my family, usually a piece of bread with cheese, chocolate sprinkles or peanut butter. Afterwards, I go to school and stay there from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. I come back home at around 3 p.m. to do homework and eat dinner. I usually have basketball practice at 6 p.m. After the practice I either watch a movie, finish homework or hang out with friends.

Did you know?

· Students in the Netherlands don’t have school sports or school teams. They go to sports organizations in the city if they want to practice sports

· The Netherlands is also known as Holland

· It takes a maximum of two hours to drive from one end of the country to the other

· The conventional long form of the county’s name is Kingdom of Netherlands