I will be one of the 16 students traveling with Winterline this fall. As a precursor to our 9-month journey, I have been researching some of the countries that we will be going to; The Netherlands is a standout. A country that is certainly breathtaking from all of the pictures that I've seen and exciting to write about. A country, I also can't wait to visit.
The Netherlands is a land of abundant scenery and serenity. Its fields are full of the vibrant hues of native flowers, its mountains are highlighted with flakes of snow, and vast and luscious forests surround its crystal lakes. Though, you won’t ever hear Peter Pan sing about “Nether, Netherlands”, you can bet that The Netherlands is one of the closest destinations to such an ethereal children’s tale.
The Netherlands, also known as Holland, is a petite country located in Western Europe, roughly the size of Maryland. Netherlands means ‘Low Country’ in Dutch, because half of its surface area is less than a meter above sea level. It shares a border with Germany and Belgium, its capital is Amsterdam, and its primary language is Dutch. We can thank this cutesy nation for harvesting many of the world’s flowers, tomatoes, and cucumbers, for fostering the artist Vincent van Gogh, and for providing the setting of The Fault in Our Stars... Or, rather, the Netherlands can thank The Fault in Our Stars for proving that The Netherlands is in fact a real place and a destination everyone should consider.
The Netherlands has often been seen as a docile nation. It was one of the few European countries that remained neutral during WWI. The pact for neutrality only ended due to the German invasion of Holland during WWII. The Netherlands is also the home of the clog—the most innocent form of footwear known to mankind. Not to mention, it houses the world- renowned International Butler Academy, a school where the "Winterliners", like myself, will learn valuable service and etiquette skills. This academy has partnered with Winterline to educate the students on a variety of core areas of study, including: pet care, communication, customer service, valet skills, flower arranging, cooking, laundry, and countless other techniques that warrant the management of a 21st century household. The school is also a vessel for students to learn sustainable product design and sales.
But despite its clown-esque shoes and schools based on the word ‘butling’, the Netherlands is also infamous for its Red Light District, a popular tourist attraction in Amsterdam that is, shall we say, somewhat more on the scandalous side. In this country, prostitution is actually still legal. Conversely, homosexuality is still stigmatized.
For those who need a little more evidence to put this country’s personality into perspective, here are a few stats relating the Netherlands to the United States: If you were to live in the Netherlands rather than the U.S, you would:
- Have 29.57% more free time
- Experience 31.33% less of a class divide
- Make 17.99% less money
- Live 1.56 years longer
- Be tall! (Dutch people are some of the tallest in the world. (Men average 6 ft., and women average 5 ft. 7in".)
And although this country may not produce the magic, youth, and the pixie dust of its famous fabled children’s story, it is certainly a country that delivers beauty and value with a colorful culture that I can wait to see.