American Influence in Utrecht

Bolwerk Shore
In honor of the Fourth of July — America’s Independence Day — I thought I’d post a couple of photos of things with a touch of the US in them that I’ve seen recently around town. Some have made me laugh, while others have stood out simply for being here.

The first is the photo above. You may not be surprised to find out that this building belongs to one of the university student associations. The large Bavaria banner and flag isn’t referring to the German state. It’s the name of a common beer brand. Although the beer banners, bird statue in the window, and bicycles out front make it look like many a student domicile, the sign saying Bolwerk Shore made me laugh. The cringe-inducing show Jersey Shore has made it to Europe, and the students seem to have created their own version, although hopefully just as a joke for the end-of-year party they had had the night before. (Bolwerk refers to the street name, for what it’s worth.)

Not a typical sight ...
On the same street, but different day, I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of this yellow school bus. In the US, I wouldn’t have looked at it twice. It was a common enough sight throughout the school year and I’ve ridden my share of them as well. Yet here in the Netherlands, they stand out the way a double-decker bus would stand out in the US. They just don’t exist here. Students use regular buses to get to and from school, if they use the bus at all.

However, it’s not the first time I’ve seen one here in Utrecht, but that one was being used as a children’s mobile book store. I can’t help but wonder if it’s the same bus, though. After all, it’s been two years since I saw the bus the first time.

Happy Fourth of July to all of my fellow Americans, wherever they are in the world, and to everyone else, Happy Thursday!

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12 thoughts on “American Influence in Utrecht

  1. The bus is a funny thing to see. The other day, near my house, someone drove by in ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ style Trans Am!!…..What?

    Anyway, Happy 4th of July. πŸ™‚

    • Ha! That must have been a surprise! There’s someone here who has a car horn like the General Lee from the Duke’s of Hazzard. So strange to hear here!

  2. I’m still not used to the yellow school buses here in the US – for so much of my life they were a “TV thing” (which makes sense to me if to no-one else!). Happy 4th Alison!

    • I hadn’t thought about what it must be like for people from other countries to see them in mass numbers so regularly in the US. They’re not just a tv thing (which makes perfect sense).

  3. The bus is indeed funny. Is it a mobile bookstore or a mobile children’s library? The Utrecht public library is also the provincial library and it serves areas too small to have their own libraries, and schools without school libraries.
    I was surprised to see the American schoolbuses on Dutch websites about tours, though most of them are repainted. As you know, they’re changed to RVs a lot over here. Pretty indestructable, apparently.

    • Have they really changed to RVs in the US? That’s news to me!

      Not having children, I honestly didn’t look that closely at the bus the first time I saw it here, although it was definitely something to do with books for children. However, it was at a food market/festival. No idea if it was at all related to the library.

  4. That yellow school bus is a very American tv/movie sight for most Europeans, I don’t think there are very many around here. I’ve seen a few in town over the years, most of them (or maybe it was the same one) seemed to be for hire for wedding parties. A mobile children’s library (didn’t know those stil existed btw) seems a pretty good use for an ex-school bus too! They’re used to children you see, I bet they miss them when they’re retired to the yellow schoolbus scrapyard πŸ™‚

    • I do take them for granted, so it’s interesting to get the European perspective on them. Funny how something simple — and they are very simple — can create such specific associations.

  5. Last year on my way to Leiden to visit my SIL, I was the General Lee! I yelled, “Look!! The General LEE!” in my very Southern voice, loud enough so that everyone in the whole train probably heard it. I got a few laughs and a couple of blank stares. But I thought it was hilarious to see something so very Southern on my visit! I was way too excited about that little bit of Americana. πŸ˜›

    • I’m pretty sure I would have been just as surprised to see a car like the General Lee here! I saw a few in both Florida and North Carolina over the years, but I wouldn’t expect to see one outside the south, much less outside the US! How bizarre yet fun! πŸ™‚

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