13 Signs You’re an Expat in the Netherlands
1. You don’t know if it’s Holland or The Netherlands, or why. –
One of the original and confusing mysteries of the country which means you don’t know which one is correct. Put simply: Holland is an area of the Netherlands.
2. You look around and realise that not everyone is using illicit substances. –
The Netherlands is well known for its lenient policy on drug use (amongst other things). But although it’s not illegal, you may find it surprising that only a small percentage of the Dutch people actually use cannabis and the likes on a regular basis.
3. Small children tell you off. –
Dutch children are very independent and self-aware. They are taught strong values from a young age, and will not hold back in informing you if you are stepping outside of normal societal boundaries. Be warned!
4. Cyclists show no fear. –
More often than not they have the right of way, but Dutch people are nonetheless extremely bold road users, despite the presence of pedestrians, other cyclists, mopeds, trams, busses and cars. When you receive the angry glare of a Dutch cyclist, you know you’re in the wrong.
5. You can see into people’s houses. –
Walking down any typical Dutch street, you are likely to be able to see straight into the living room or kitchen of almost all of them. If you are an international, this may arouse your curiosity. Try to avoid looking in all the time, and especially avoid awkward eye contact.
6. You didn’t know what bad customer service was. –
In many countries customer service is a given, a no-brainer. Normally, you expect to be treated respectfully, even if you’re not in the right when making a complaint for example. In The Netherlands this is not always the case: Be ready to be told “That’s your problem” or a full-on “No”.
7. Lunch is a sandwich, breakfast contains chocolate. –
The Dutch are renowned for their cold lunches of sandwiches and milk. Not only this, the delicacy of Hagelslag is a breakfast staple; it’s essentially just chocolate flakes sprinkled onto bread.
8. It takes weeks of planning to spend time with your Dutch friends. –
Forget last minute catch-ups, the Dutch have their agendas and they stick to them. Working or social, their plans are often set weeks or more in advance and they will rarely deviate from them.
9. The Sun is appreciated perhaps more so than anywhere else. –
In that strange time of the year, as the sun breaks the clouds in spring and the temperature soars above 10°C, the Dutch will flock to the nearest terrace or beach. Dressed in their sweater and sunglasses, they can’t resist a post-work borrel at the nearest kroeg.
10. Liquorice: You’ll love it or hate it. –
A divisive issue amongst the internationals living in The Netherlands, people seem to love or hate liquorice, or drop as it is known. The Dutch love it: A lot. Whether sweet, salty, or fruity, they will take handfuls of the black stuff. If you don’t take a liking to it, be prepared to defend your opinion.
11. You realise that you miss mountains. –
One day you’ll wake up in the Netherlands and realise that you haven’t experienced something in a while. It might be customer service as you know it, or a normal lunch, but it could well be mountains and hills. The Netherlands is extremely flat, which is handy for cycling, but not so handy for hiking.
12. You find that the trains always run on time, but then sometimes just don’t come. –
The Dutch NS trains look quite marvellous in all their blue and yellowness. Most of the time they are reliable and run 24 hours a day, however, on that rare occasion when you really need it, be ready for a cancellation with no explanation.
13. You forget what it feels like to be tall. –
The Netherlands is on average the tallest country in the world. You may even be above average height in your home country, but chances are that regardless of gender, when you come to The Netherlands you will be smaller than your Dutch peers.
Archie Pollock, ELM team
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