Favourite Dutch product: bitterballen


Her favourite Dutch product is the bitterbal, and the best thing about the Netherlands is its railway network. “It actually works on time and brought me to an open day in Maastricht.” With a broad smile Claudia Wohlsperger, a second-year German student of Arts and Culture, welcomes the question: Talked to a Dutch student lately? “Yes”, she says triumphantly. “Today in the library two of them were struggling with the printer. My Dutch housemate and I helped them. Not that we’re so technical.”

What do you prefer: subtitles or dubbing? “Dubbing usually sucks. I want a subtitled movie. I enjoy Dutch television for that.” She loves to watch TV-Makelaars on RTL4. “My sister, who is married to a Dutchman and lives in Drenthe, told me this programme was really fun. It is. People can be so stupid. But most of the time I watch American series like Grey’s Anatomy. And now I’m going to watch Flikken Maastricht because they were filming an episode in our street today.”

After four months working as an au pair at her sister’s place and one year in Maastricht, the Dutch language is no longer a problem for Wohlsperger. “This week I went to the bike shop and I could explain what was wrong. In Dutch. And when I go shopping I try to speak Dutch, even if everybody – that’s a pity when you want to learn the language – answers in English.” She feels integrated. Her best friend Judith is Dutch, and she herself is member of the board of the student party NovUM, lives in Maastricht, knows who Jo Ritzen is (“the president of the university’s Executive Board”) and even has a Dutch doctor. But she will never get used to Dutch party music, often played by cover bands. “They play records that everybody knows, so they can all sing together.”

She thinks it’s sad that the integration of Dutch and Germans doesn’t seem to work. “We’re neighbouring countries. I was very pro the mixed Inkom groups, but lately I’ve read that it wasn’t a great success. It will take time. Living here is a good start for both groups.” So don’t be a car-German (Germans who study here but drive straight home after class) or a train-Limbo (students from Limburg who catch the train home after class), is what she means to say.


Riki Janssen

New series about German students and their level of integration

Favourite Dutch product: bitterballen

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