Invasion of Privacy: Netherlands native Baastian Dekker offers some international insight

This semester, the friendly and charming Bastiaan Dekker made the trek from the Netherlands to Geneseo as an exchange student.

Dekker's interest with the United States originally piqued after he watched a lot of movies set in this country. Originally interested in Seattle as a study abroad option, Dekker instead chose Geneseo because he had friends that had also participated in the study abroad program here and loved it.

Dekker is from Groningen in the Netherlands. While Geneseo is significantly smaller than Groningen, a city of about 200,000 people and a provincial capital in the Netherlands, Dekker enjoys Geneseo nonetheless.

"I like that Geneseo is a small town," he said. "In the Netherlands, everyone [at school] lives somewhere in the city, but here everyone is packed together. There are very nice people here. I have not met someone who hasn't been friendly."

As small as Geneseo is, Dekker has noticed that everyone needs a car to get around because everything is far away and secluded. "In the Netherlands, everyone has a bike and you can ride it anywhere."

Dekker explained that the college system back home is set up a little differently than in the United States.

"In the Netherlands we have to take a half a year of elective classes, so that's what I'm taking here," he said.

Dekker is currently in his third year in college at Groningen, where his major is urban planning.

Dekker is enjoying his time in Geneseo by participating in various activities, including an intramural soccer team. Unfortunately, the team has yet to win any games. Dekker also visits the Statesmen bar every Monday for Trivia Night.

"It's competitive," he said. "You play with six people on your team and answer questions. The winners for first and second place get bar tabs. My team has come in second twice."

Although Dekker is enjoying his time here, he has experienced the difficulty of being a foreigner. Over Spring Break, Dekker had the pleasure of going to Niagara Falls, but not by choice. Because Dekker received the wrong visa from home, he had to leave the country for a few days.

"Over Spring Break, I also went to New York City and Washington D.C.," he said. "I like New York a lot and I got to visit a friend who's from the Netherlands that now lives in D.C."

Next week, Dekker will be going to Boston for a geography contest.

"I'm excited to see Harvard," he said.

After the semester is finished, Dekker also plans on biking from San Francisco to Denver for five weeks.

"My dad is going to fly in," he said. "We were going to go on a biking trip in Switzerland but then I came here, so he decided we could go on a biking trip here."

As if a semester miles away from home and a five-week bike trip weren't adventurous enough, Dekker also plans to study abroad in Indonesia next year.