It’s been two weeks since I arrived in the Netherlands, the country I have decided to call my home for at least the next year, and the learning process (AKA culture shock) has begun. Here are a few things I’ve picked up since I arrived.
1. The stereotypes are rubbish!
People here don’t smoke weed all day every day, nor are they all frequenting prostitutes every night of the week. The stereotypes are ridiculous! I just returned from 4 days of cycling around the country and I was asked by a friend “did you do the whole thing stoned?” No, no I did not.
2. A trusty two-wheeler is de rigueur for daily transport.
No fancy clothes, helmet, or expensive fuel needed. Snap on a chain guard, hop on in business attire, stiletto heels, or that sexy salsa outfit, and ride with pride, briefcase, lunchbox, kids (also helmet-less), and that all-important cell phone in tow. Cycling in Holland is taken very seriously! There are reportedly over 18 million bikes in this country, which is more than number of people here!
3. What hair and make-up?!
I’ve already pretty much given up on doing my hair and make up before I go out anywhere. By the time I cycle to wherever I am going I’m looking pretty disheveled…and I haven’t even cycled in the rain yet!
4. Dutch life is very structured
The Dutch, in general, seem to be very organised and great planners. I first picked up on this when I started my new job and I was sent my working roster for an entire year!
5. The 3-Kiss Rule
Because it does not appear I will be leaving anytime soon, and because of my desire to be culturally sensitive, in two weeks I have been forced to become more comfortable with the three kiss rule. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it feels natural to me, but I roll with it as best I can. I’m not going to lie, all that back and forth really throws me for a loop and I have encountered a few awkward mishaps. But really, THREE kisses?! That just seems excessive!
6. Dutch guys + hair gel = what the?!
OK, is it just me or do Dutch guys put waaaay too much gel in their hair?! Lucky for them they’re tall and incredibly good looking, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to get away with this one!
7. Dutch Lunch
A typical Spanish lunch would be a long, hot lunch with two main dishes and a probably dessert.
A regular Chinese lunch would be a well-prepared, hot meal, sometimes followed by half an hour nap at home.
A Scandinavian lunch would typically consist of a full hot meal with side dishes of small salads and dessert.
A British lunch would probably be some pub grub from the local.
What about a Dutch lunch?
8. Other food
Sorry Holland but so far your food isn’t wow-ing this foodie. It’s plain, boring, there are not enough vegetables and too much bread and potato. For breakfast most mornings I eat chocolate sprinkles on bread….and that is perfectly acceptable here for an adult. What the?!
There are a few things that I’ve fallen in love with and I’d almost go as far as saying that they make up for everything else!
Stroopwafel – a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle. Umm…AMAZING!
Speculoos – Kudos to the guy that turned biscuits into a spread. Genius!
Mint Tea with honey – The ultimate soul-soother. Fresh mint in boiling water with a teaspoon of honey.
9. Holland. Is. Beautiful.
By Gidget Gallaher