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Groningen central train station

Do you live in a low-status city?

My friend, Carol, lives in Amsterdam, a bit more than two hours from Groningen, where I live. She used to live in Assen, which is only 20 minutes away. Yet I see her much more often now than I did then. Cities have status. I didn’t realize this until Carol moved away. When she lived…

Bicycle baptism

All we were trying to do was to get out of the car while it was stopped in traffic. The plan was to walk to the restaurant two blocks away while my husband went to park the car. It made sense. I stepped out on the right side, but not before saying to the kids…

Christmas market madness

The days are short and the weather is cold, this time of year, and, here in Holland, that often means cold and wet, not snowy. Nevertheless, it’s the most popular time for open-air markets: Christmas markets, to be exact. Going to a Christmas market has become almost traditional in Holland in recent years. Originally, this…

Is Black Pete racist?

[:en]To state the patently obvious, it’s terribly racist in this day and age for a white person to dress up in blackface and play a comic character.[:]

Driving, Dutch-style

[:en]One culture chooses to flout law #1 and obey law #2, while another culture obeys law #1 and flouts law #2.[:]

Pretentiousness

Have you ever noticed that the fancier the restaurant, the less food there is on your plate? My husband and I went on one of our very rare visits to a chic restaurant last night. Koriander is its name, and it’s in a particularly ugly section of the small city of Drachten, in Friesland. Once…

X is for eXpatriate

I am an expatriate: an American citizen, now living in the Netherlands. But I’m not entirely comfortable with the putting myself in that category: “expatriate.” When I first heard the term, it was in high school, when I was taught about the movement of American writers to Paris in the period after the First World…