Hi everyone! We’re Andrew and Marcos who are students from the United States, more specifically Miami, interning here at Slamstox. We both attend Florida International University where Andrew is an undergraduate student completing his Bachelor’s in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and Marcos is a graduate student who is completing his MBA in International Business.

Our journey to the Netherlands began with a collaboration program between our university and a Dutch university called Fontys University of Applied Sciences. The program awarded us with the opportunity to perform a one-month internship in the Netherlands with a company that has an international presence.

This blog will aim to provide insight into our experiences in the Netherlands through the lens of cultural differences, food, traveling, and other aspects. We will each give our take on what we think was different and unique about this country. Stick around as we talk weekly about our experiences!

Marcos’ Experience:

Hi everyone! It’s Marcos here. I’m excited to let you all know about my journey in the last week since I landed in the Netherlands. I arrived here through the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. Since I was staying in Eindhoven, I had to find a way to go south using the train system. In Miami, there aren’t many trains other than those meant for very long-distance travel. People mostly depend on their cars. Since I’ve rarely rode any trains in my life, this was brand new for me. However, the foreignness of the train system quickly became something familiar, and I was able to get to my house.

“When I got here, I realized that I would be staying in a pretty unique form of housing…”

I am staying in a house shared by 9 students in total. Dorms in the US, where you live while you’re in college, are usually shared by about only 3 people. Here, there are two kitchens, one on the first floor and one on the third floor. Since I am a college student, you might be expecting me to say that I live in a dorm back at home. But I don’t. I live with my parents while I attend university. Therefore, I had never lived with strangers in a three-story house. I thought it might have been awkward, but I was wrong. Everyone has been extremely nice to me.

In the following days, I began getting acclimated to the city. Eindhoven is a very charming city in the south which has a very different vibe than Miami. It is a lot more laid back and significantly smaller. The population here is about 200,000 while Miami’s is around 6 million. So for me, it felt like the city moved really slow. However, small cities do have their benefits.

De Blob in Eindhoven

For one, you can walk or bike anywhere! In Miami, people rarely walk unless it is in areas such as Downtown, where everything is closer together. And biking? Well, that’s almost impossible to see back home. Miami drivers are not used to people cycling on the streets, so it makes it dangerous. Every street in Eindhoven also has designated bike lanes, which isn’t the case in Miami. However, it is important to note that the US does have places where biking is more common. I am simply comparing them to my home city. On the Monday after I got to Eindhoven, I got my bike. At that moment, I considered myself a real Dutchman!

“Vacation’s over, now it’s time to start work!”

On Tuesday, I began to work at Slamstox. From the second I stepped through the doors of the building, you could feel the hospitality. Everybody introduced themselves to me, and I even received a tour of the building, which houses multiple companies sharing three interests: sports, marketing, media. The point that I have found the most interesting so far is that the work style of the Netherlands, or at least Slamstox, is not different at all to that of the US. I have worked in different startup companies back home and they all have the same work style as this one. Once you go to large and established companies, the dynamic changes. However, I have always been a fan of the startup work style.

To close out my first week, I decided to visit Maastricht. I must say, although both cities are completely different, they are both extremely unique and beautiful. My first reaction when I got off the train was…France!

City Street in Maastricht

Many of its areas seemed as though you were walking through Paris. It turns out that the French attempted to conquer the city 22 times, and they succeeded 11 of those times. However, the city has not only been historically French. It has passed through the hands of the Romans, the Spanish, and the Dutch. There are parts of the city that are more than 2000 years old, that means that they were built before Christ! Perhaps an unusual, interesting fact about the city was that they have a pie made from rice and milk. Now, you may be wondering why I find that interesting. Well, it’s because the Spanish introduced it to the region when they conquered the city. The Spanish dish is called “Arroz con Leche”. Although I live in the US, I was born in Cuba, which was a Spanish colony. I grew up eating that food very often and it was fascinating to see how even though I was far away from home, there was a similar food.

Bisschopsmolen Bakery

So, there you have it, my first week in the Netherlands. Although there were obviously several cultural shocks, it was nothing drastic. My trip on the weekend gave me the ability to expand my view of the Netherlands beyond Eindhoven. Stick around as I continue living and working here in the Netherlands!

Andrew’s Experience:

Hey everyone! My name is Andrew, and I’m here to give you my take during my first week in the Netherlands. When I first landed in Schiphol Airport, I was met with a culture shock. I saw Dutch signs and heard people speaking a foreign language. However, I was amazed that so many people could understand and speak English. My objective after arriving was to find a train route to Eindhoven, where my housing is. In Miami, I rarely use any forms of public transportation. Fortunately, I was easily able to purchase tickets for and board the correct train.

“I have to admit…it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

The next day was what I would consider my first ‘real day’ in the Netherlands. I began my day by walking to the building where Slamstox is located. The team was super hospitable, and I was given a tour of the building. I’m used to the typical cubicle offices where everyone tends to keep to themselves, but all of these offices are open spaces where interaction is encouraged. This is different from my experience in the US, especially considering the fact that most of my internships have been done remotely.

After meeting the team, I traveled to the centrum in Eindhoven where I picked up a rental bike. In Miami, biking is not a form of transportation that would be practical. Unlike in Eindhoven, I don’t live close enough to my school or work to bike or walk to. Also, the bike lanes are not as numerous as those here. It has been a bit of a learning curve for me in terms of figuring out the ‘rules of the biking road.’ I’ve come to really enjoy riding my bike around the distinct parts of the city though.

Bike Parking at Eindhoven Centraal

So far, Eindhoven has been very different from Miami, given it’s a much smaller city. The people are all friendly, and everyone that I’ve interacted with has been kind. The weather is also different from what I’m used to. In Miami, for the most part, you can expect the temperature to remain warm and somewhat constant throughout the day. In Eindhoven, the mornings tend to be cool, the afternoons start to warm up, and then the nights are cooler again. It also rains for a little while but then stops shortly after. In this respect, it’s similar to Miami in the sense that it can rain at a moment’s notice but then stop.

“It’s everything I expected it to be and more!”

During the weekend, I traveled to Amsterdam on Saturday. One thing I noticed about Amsterdam was that the city seems to come alive later in the morning. The first thing I did was grab a quick breakfast before a bicycle tour I had purchased tickets for. I ate at an omelet restaurant, which was one of the few places open before 10:00, where I had the best omelet I’ve ever eaten.

Amsterdam Breakfast Omelet

It was filled with vegetables, cheese, and Dutch bacon with a side of wheat bread. Afterwards, I ran to the meeting point of the bicycle tour where I met a group of other tourists eager to venture into the city. Biking around the streets in Amsterdam was an eye-opening experience. I passed by drawbridges and old warehouses on the Western Islands, cycled in the Jordaan and De Pijp District, around the Museum Quarter, and then stopped for a break in Vondelpark.

After the bicycle tour, which lasted just over three hours, I attended a walking tour that met at the National Monument on Dam Square. My tour guide gave an in-depth explanation of Dutch engineering and the manner in which Amsterdam was constructed. Later that night, I went on a canal cruise tour, where I had the chance to take extraordinary pictures as I ventured the waters of Amsterdam’s canals.

The Westerkerk Church in Amsterdam

And that brings me to the end of my first week in the Netherlands. Do I feel like a real Dutch man by this point? No, not yet. But, I’m getting there. At times it’s been difficult to adjust, considering the culture is so different from what I’m typically used to back home. Though there are some similarities to the US, one being that everyone seems to speak English, the way people carry themselves, talk to one another, and just see life in general is something I’m not used to. I hope that during the remainder of my time in the country I’ll become more accustomed to what a Dutch way of life entails, broadening my own perspectives and instilling valuable lessons within me that I’ll be able to take back home.