Happy Belated St. Nicholas!

For those of you who don’t know: where I’m from Christmas only comes in second. Number one on the list of December holidays and precedent to your Santa Claus (may I remind you, Mrs. Mean UN Woman)  is St. Nicholas, whose presence we celebrate on the fifth of December (or on the sixth in Germany and Belgium). He looks similar to Santa Claus, with a red outfit and all, but rides a white horse instead of a reindeer-pulled sleigh. His elves are much taller than santa’s and black, because they crawl through chimneys to bring presents to little kids. We celebrate with lots of nice little treats, singing and poems. The food is really my prefered part, as in any festive event. 

Currently all Dutch media, politics and even the UN occupy themselves with the question whether St. Nicholas and Black Peter are racist because some bored nitwits, that clearly have racist minds themselves for noticing, link the white man with black helpers to slavery and therefore accuse all those little five-year-olds and their parents of being racist for celebrating. 

Anyways, enough for politics. I’ve never been much of a St. Nicholas fan and always liked Santa Claus better. Maybe because my mom, who was not Dutch, didn’t really understand what to do and we didn’t celebrate it that much. 

Still I wanted to wish you all a happy belated St. Nicholas! And tell me? Is this racist? 

sinterklaas

Love, 

Sophie

P.S.: I am really lazy and in a hurry so I linked some articles to help you gain a better understanding of this Dutch tradition. 

 

The $100 Startup

When I first started this blog, which sounds like long ago when I put it like this but it was actually last month, I did it for the sole purpose of entertaining myself. Since I am in business school however, I figured I should have some sort of mission for my blog. Now, my mission is to entertain not only myself, but others as well and to inspire and encourage people to travel. Transformed into a giant-corporation’s-mission-statement-pr-bullshit way:

“The Piggybank tales aim to provide entertainment for those in need, to inspire and to encourage the author’s peers to embark on their own adventures. Our mission is to trigger the adventurer that hides in each and every person, while protecting themselves and their surroundings from all harm and injustice, to make the world a better place.”

Or whatever.. Anyways back to my purpose. I want to inspire you guys to do things that are way more fun than sitting behind your computer and reading. Don’t get me wrong, do read my blog regularly! But besides that, also go out and create your own adventures, from something as small as a piggybank.

I’m probably the only blogger, who needs three paragraphs just for the intro.. Sigh.. So on to the main part. I read this really awesome and inspirational book that I think you guys should all read! It’s called (surprise) The $100 Startup written by Chris Guillebeau. Basically it tells you to put all your excuses in the trash and pursue your dreams.

Maybe from a business point of view it is not the most innovative, high quality content book on entrepreneurship, but it does exactly what it needs to do. It motivates you to overcome your fears, dump your excuses and throw yourself into a big sea of adventure, which, if you work really hard, will turn into a pool filled with money inside of a golden warehouse, so you can swim in your own wealth, just like Scrooge McDuck. Are you still with me?

Scrooge McDuck wealth

Mostly the author describes success stories of people that either were stuck in some point in their life or saw an opportunity to create their own business. He writes about the fundamental features that made them successful, problems they encountered and mostly about how much happier they are now. The catchy detail is that he particularly focuses on people that did not go to business school and are not gifted like Steve Jobs, making it incredibly engaging.

Apart from the inspiration he provides little extras such as premade one page business plans on his website or franchise contract samples. These, I did not find very helpful because they missed some aspects to work in the real world. Somehow I don’t think my bank would grant me a loan if I’d hand them a single page file that could’ve been written by my little niece.

However that is not what you buy the book for. This book triggers your enthusiasm to enter the big scary corporate world to pursue your dreams. The forms and business plan models serve their purpose, not by giving you the actual model, but by breaking down and simplifying the laws and regulations that you are about to face. I recommend the book to everyone with a file on their computer titled *New Business Ideas* or everyone who’s just sick of employment. This might be the trigger you need.

For myself, I’ve always had loads of business ideas in my mind that I hardly ever shared with other people. Sometimes I did share them and people were enthusiastic about them, but then they always ended up in some drawer in the back of my mind. Recently I started to be more serious about the ideas that came to my mind. My only problem was that all my ideas where huge unorganized piles similar to my to-be-ironed pile causing me to be as unmotivated to start as I am to do my ironing. One of them was starting a consultancy service for job-seekers. I wanted to guide them through applications and to help them find a new job, but it would be a huge project on a very personal level. Now I cut back on my expectations and will use a simple ad on Marktplaats (the Dutch version of Craigslist) instead, which only offers to review application letters. This way I won’t have to build a website or anything decreasing the start-up barrier)

So much for my personal experiences. Now, I dare you to read the book and tell me about your experience! Also, if you liked this post, please click like below. Then follow me on Bloglovin’ or Twitter. Thanks!

Love,

Sophie

Through the eyes of a stranger..

It was Friday 11:50 pm and I was sharing mutual excitement and beer with a big, big mustache. While I was listening to the big mustaches’ adventures in Australia, I was waiting anxiously for my friend to arrive. Meanwhile I was also wondering what other people would think of me, a pale uninteresting girl, waiting for her friend from Turkey.

Oh well, for the next week I was going to have to wear the image of a pathetic girl and her loverboy. It was only a week, I could deal with that! When my friend finally arrived our adventure could begin. I, who could not even get by in my hometown, was going to be a tour guide. Not surprisingly I was not the only one learning about my country. Here are the things I learned from my foreign friend about my country.

1. Whenever you see a place that sells stroopwafels the logical reaction is to buy as many as you possibly can, eat them all at once, get nauseous, recover and repeat. Whenever you walk in a place where these waffle vendors are more than 100 meters apart from each other Kroketten can be a great alternative.

2. Weed is more expensive in Amsterdam than anywhere else.

3. Next time I’m stuck in a traffic jam for half an hour I should not complain. Our traffic jams are annoying, but comparable to normal traffic in Istanbul, where one can be stuck in traffic for up to six hours.

4. Windmills are super exciting, Rotterdam has fascinating buildings but lacks older architecture and Dutch houses are ugly as fuck!

Red light district

5. Dutch girls have big boobs and are really pretty. Except for the ones that work in the Amsterdam Red Light district, they’re unattractive.. or well.. ‘maybe they should be looked at secretly. These people are sick.. How can they be so open about sex? I wonder how much they are? Hey, I wasn’t looking or anything(or was I?)’

6. Even though beer is expensive, we have awesome parties! Dutch people are so much fun when they’re drunk. Time for another joint! Flying hiiiigh!

7. Pancakes are amazing here!

8. It’s a bridge, but it opens.. Wow, that is amazing. They just close it off and lift the entire bridge so a boat can pass. How is that possible? Is it magic? Then there are these cool thingies where a boat sails into a closed off area, and they raise or lower the water level so the boat can pass through. Dutch people are like water magicians!

9. Awesome cheese, awesome mayonnaise, fake Turkish food and too much bread!

10. Trains are actually not as bad as we Dutch people think they are. While we complain about trains being 10 minutes late, other complain about trains with hours of delay!

So, that pretty much described my week of homeland tourism. I was kind of scared to be a bad guide, but when he left for the airport, slightly intoxicated, my guest thanked me for having one of the best times of his life. Mission accomplished, yay! It really surprised me to find out how much fun Holland actually is. I should be a tourist in my own country more often!

Love,

Sophie

Love travels to your heart, via your…Stomach..

Image

In Dutch we have a saying. Actually we have many and maybe the one I mean exists in English as well, but starting my post mentioning this old saying sounds very wise, I hope. Also I realized that the sentences following the first screwed up the ‘ wise person’ image. Anyways, we have this saying.

Liefde gaat door de maag. It translates to: ‘Love travels through one’s stomach.’ Basically it expresses how Dutch people are just a bunch of pigs, that you can get to like you just by providing good food. But how could it be otherwise if we have all these delicious snacks! Someone once told me Dutch meals(think stews..lots of stews) are terrible, but the snacks make up for it completely.

Therefore, whenever I travel I make sure to carry around bulks of the following snacks to make friends everywhere.

The first is a pack of Stroopwafels. I used to keep stock in my kitchen in Switzerland and my roommates would always eat them. They’re delicious crispy wafers with syrup filling in the middle.

Secondly I carry something that everyone wants to try but no one actually likes; Licorice. Those from the US might think they now licorice, but you’re wrong! Well, at least you don’t know Dutch licorice. Our’s is saltier and more licoricely! Only the Dutch (and Finnish) seem to like it.

In winter we celebrate St. Nicholas on the 5th of December and he brings something called ‘Kruidnoten.’ A Dutch tradition is to complain about the time stores start selling them. It’s always too early. As a matter of fact, I think there are in stores already, how scandalous! I always take them on my winter travels and everyone loves them!

On a few occasions I have tried to bring kroketten, frikandellen and bitterballen, which was a little difficult because A: They need to be frozen until prepared and B: they need to be deep-fried, something that is not easy to do in an apartment or hotel room. However they are delightful, so if you ever get to Holland; try them!

Over the past years I have made many friends by feeding them. Now all my friends are fat because they eat so many of these snacks. (sorry!)

Do you people take treats from home to spread a little of your culture? Let me know!

Love,

Sophie