| Lisa Waldera

Lisa Waldera (25) is a master’s student Communication Studies from Bremen, Germany. For three years now, she’s been living on campus. Next to her study, she regularly visits the cinema and enjoys concerts of all music genres. Every other week she writes about her life at the University of Twente.

Photo by: Annabel Jeuring

Just a completely normal week of spring in the Netherlands. Getting my first sunburn while walking outside in a t-shirt. Next, I am running inside because I am surprised by a hail shower, followed by snow. The weather is acting up. But what I would actually like to talk about is the Dutch mastery of biking.

Every morning I see parents taking their children to daycare on campus. Some use one or more bike seats. Others transport an entire school class in their wooden cargo bike. Pretty impressive. Of course, I can also ride a bike. Every day, I went to school by bike. But despite that I cannot even drive with one person sitting on the back of my bike. Then I observe how easily Dutch students transport friends on the back while holding a suitcase and answering their emails. Well, not the last thing because using your phone on the bike is not allowed anymore. It just seems as if Dutch children are born with an insane sense of balance. Over the course of the years, this balancing skill is perfected. Sofas, chairs and washing machines can be easily transported by bike. Just as several beer crates at once. Touching the handlebars is no necessity for Dutch cyclists.

I also noticed that everyone in the Netherlands carries biking clothing items. The weather is known to be ever changing. Rain clouds appear out of nowhere and you are soaked when arriving at the lecture hall. But the Dutch people are prepared for any weather condition. If it is not too windy, they drive with an umbrella. Otherwise, they pull out a waterproof overall to wear above their own clothes. Sun? Enjoy it while it lasts. Snow? Extra gloves and a scarf. Hail? There seems to be no solution yet. Identify the closest object to provide shelter. Fortunately, any weather phenomenon only lasts a few minutes. But the most pressing issue: how do I save my makeup when I am suddenly surprised by rain? I spend half an hour to mask my hectic spots and dark circles under my eyes. Only to end up in stormy weather. The advice I have received from Dutch students is to carry makeup wipes and retouch everything upon arrival. More things to add to my biking emergency bag. I begin to understand why I see many bikes with panniers in the back.

But I don’t have to worry about that now. I cannot be surprised by the weather on my way from the bathroom to my desk. One advantage of online lectures and the ongoing lockdown: I can witness the craziness of the Dutch spring weather from behind my window for the second time.

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