The truly beautiful thing about study abroad is that I can construe just about anything as a cultural experience. Grocery shopping? Cultural experience. Falling asleep on my patio at noon? Cultural experience.

Going to the movies, then, is definitely a cultural experience. My friend Sasha and I headed to the cinema inside the mall to see The Hunger Games. We figured it was a great time to see it since it came out two days earlier here (bwhaha).

The movie theater (bioscoop) is sort of hidden and off to the side in the mall, unlike movie theaters in malls back home. We had to walk down a pretty seedy hallway and up a flight of stairs to get into the box office. Once we were there, however, it looked exactly the same. Same guy in the box office saying things I don’t understand, same disaffected youth behind the concession stand, same outdated movie cutouts lounging around. It was pretty comforting.

Sasha and I decided to split a coke (not a Coke, it was lucky that Sasha was the one ordering the Sprite) and some popcorn. The medium sized popcorn was HUGE—definitely the size of a large back home—and when we ordered it, the disaffected youth asked if we wanted salty or sweet.


We stayed on the safe side and ordered salty, but I’m very curious as to what sweet popcorn is. Is it the same thing as kettle corn? Is it like putting M&Ms in your popcorn? What would it even taste like if you put M&Ms in your sweet popcorn? I’ve got so many questions, you guys.

Once we entered the theater, we were delighted to find the most comfortable looking chairs in the universe. They were red and made of something like velour, and right as I was about to fall asleep, some manager-looking guy stood up in the back of the theater and yelled something in Dutch.

Naturally, I had to go exploring, and I came back with a booklet that appears to be the summary of The Hunger Games in Dutch. We tried to translate it while we were sitting there (“I’ve got this! Something something blue something something I something tasty!”) because we were bored silly—there was no movie trivia! What is that all about? I love me some movie trivia. Don’t even get me started on the terrible radio station that plays during movie trivia.

The lights went down, but instead of the previews starting up, we saw a series of silent advertisements. They moved super quickly (each was maybe ten seconds long) and they were completely in Dutch. Which makes sense, actually, now that I’m thinking about it…

The movie started, and I was quickly engrossed. The movie was completely in English, with Dutch subtitles. It was incredibly easy to forget the subtitles were there and get into the movie, and get into the movie we did. Sasha and I were tensing up at every scene, positively freaking out when Katniss started climbing that tree…

and then the movie stopped.

Right smack-dab in the middle of the action, the movie stopped, the lights went on, and people starting filing out of the theater. Apparently, Dutch movies have an intermission in them. It’s kind of cool because no one gets up to go to the restroom or get more candy while the movie is going on, but it’s also rather jarring to just stop right in the middle of the action. It took me a few minutes to recover.

I’m definitely looking forward to the next movie we see in theaters! Dutch movie theaters are similar enough to American ones that going to see movies is still fun, but they’re different enough that I think this TOTALLY counts as a cultural experience.


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