Moving to the "nicest country in Europe"
Due to the COVID19 pandemic, a new term emerged: “staycation”. Widely used in the tourism sector in the Netherlands, staycation refers to travelling within your national borders and encouraging people to explore the country they live in. Ha Yen Quynh, an MBA International Management student, has taken staycation to a whole new level.
Hà Yến Quỳnh comes from the city of Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam. She is 27 years old and is currently in the thesis phase of her postgraduate studies (MBA) in International Management. She expects to graduate at the end of 2021 and hopes to stay in the Netherlands after completing her degree.
When she arrived at Wittenborg, it was her first time in the Netherlands and also her first time leaving Vietnam for such a long period. She felt motivated by recommendations from friends about the country, the English proficiency of the Dutch and the convenient location in the continent when it comes to connections with other countries. Passionate about travelling, she packed her luggage and came to what is for her the nicest country in Europe.
Getting to know the Netherlands
Upon arrival, she did not experience culture shock at all; however, as she gets bored easily at home, her curiosity prompted her to explore new places and visit friends. Despite the corona restrictions, she did not hold back on her plans for exploring the Netherlands, following the social distancing rules and recommendations given by the government on a daily basis.
Once the lockdown was over, she made arrangements to visit friends and, so far, she is enjoying the Netherlands to the maximum. The following are the top 3 places Hà Yến Quỳnh recommends visiting:
Delft: Delft is located between Den Haag and Rotterdam, famous for the craft of blue ceramics that dates back hundreds of years, and the atmospheric views of the city by the painter Vermeer. Quỳnh highlights Delft's beautiful landmarks like the Oude Kerk (the Old Church), the abundance of flowers, the open market, Delft University library, and of course, the ceramic museum to learn more about the history of this city's most important industry. She really likes the vibe and student atmosphere of the place, as there are a lot of young people living and studying here.
Haarlem: this charming city is located close to Amsterdam, and according to Quỳnh, it is a hidden gem. “People tend to visit big cities like Amsterdam but do not explore places like Haarlem… it was better than I expected!”. She highlights the pleasant promenade next to a huge river crossing, ideal to walk around and enjoy the view. Also, she really liked the main city square, the Grote Markt, portrayed here in her picture. In front of the Grote Kerk (the Great Church) stands a statue of Haarlem's Lawrence Janszoon Coster, holding a letter 'A' in his hand – he is said to have invented the printing press at the same time as Johannes Gutenberg but never got the credit. Haarlem is one of Quỳnh's favourite destinations.
Maastricht: Located in the south of the Netherlands in the province of Limburg, the gorgeous city of Maastricht is famous for its unique architecture, and also for the production of limestone. One of the big companies dedicated to limestone is ENCI, which was founded back in 1926. Due to this mining activity, several man-made water reserves were created, and after extensive experience and research, ENCI created its own conservation programme and a huge nature reserve that can be enjoyed by visitors (ENCI-gebied, 2021). Besides delighting in the nature reserve, Quỳnh also appreciated the medieval architecture of the city, which she describes as romantic and beautiful. She also felt that Maastricht has a mix of German, Belgian, and Dutch cultures due to its location near to the borders of the other two countries. Lastly, she really loved the food variety and found a nice Vietnamese restaurant.
Staycation travel tips
Quỳnh has several useful tips for getting around, so take note! Firstly, she recommends having a plan, in order not to waste time. Checking out cities in Google will give you an idea of the historical background, major sights and accommodation options if you plan to stay the night. Secondly, she recommends viewing expat groups and fan pages on Facebook of the locations you want to visit in order to get recommendations from people who already know the area. Thirdly, she encourages us to visit along with friends whenever possible, especially when going to unknown places, and it can also help to share expenses. Lastly, she recommends always to check the weather app! That will help you plan the journey right down to your outfit!
by Laura Serrano