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Barack Obama: It has been truly gezellig!

Obama has left the Netherlands. No accidents, no terrorist attacks, no huge traffic jams. The Nuclear Security Summit 2014, hosted by the city of The Hague, went by flawlessly. And like always, the tall, charismatic president of the United States of America made a lasting impact on everyone he encountered.

But Barack Obama didn’t just impress us. The Netherlands made a deep impact on him as well. In fact, there was only one word that could really express how he felt about his first visit to our country. Obama found it truly…. GEZELLIG.

The word ‘gezellig’, as Obama pointed out himself, can’t really be translated in English. If you try, you would probably choose a word like ‘cozy’ or ‘intimate’. But can you imagine a summit about nuclear terrorism being cozy and intimate? A city trip with family and friends might be intimate and sometimes going to a conference with colleagues can be cozy, depending on what they are like. But Obama’s trips are more like military operations. Even his toilet visits are scheduled by the minute, as the director of the Rijksmuseum said on national television, proud to share every detail of Obama’s visit.

But maybe, if you are the American president, if you have been around the world, and you are surrounded by security all day, and you are driven around in a bulletproof vehicle on a daily basis. Maybe then a trip to a small country like ours is indeed ‘gezellig’, even when we sometimes would like to think otherwise.


And Obama did seem calm and relaxed and he even called our Prime Minister Mark Rutte ‘Mark’. Something must have happened during his stay that gave the most powerful man in the world a feeling of belonging. Was it our cheese, our tulips or the visits to the Rijksmuseum and the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag? Either way, it made him forget all about uranium, plutonium, dirty bombs and global disaster. At the end, all he could say was that is has been truly GEZELLIG.

So what excactly does GEZELLIG mean, and what’s the origin of this unique Dutch word? Click here and find out in this Direct Dutch  Word of the day!