Things I Have Seen/Learned So Far in Netherlands

I have been living in The Netherlands for 3 years now. Time passes without I even acknowledged and yet so much I have learned. These are the points I noticed or learned from the past three years. Nothing bad or complaints (well, yeah, almost… kind of) only things which will remind me the most of the country. Especially after I left, although I am not sure when. This list is not a complete one, I am sure, and I will update this whenever inspiration hits me.

  • Bicycles! And walking. Do not complain that you have to walk 500 m from the parking garage to your office, because it is something normal. They like to keep fit but to my observation, they rarely do actual sports like soccer or tennis. So people here takes any small chance of getting a splash of a healthy lifestyle such as walking and taking stairs instead of elevator. I myself ride bike daily to my office although it is only for 2 km one way and take me about 10 minutes from home to office.
  • Three kisses. They blow each other three kisses on the cheek: left, right, and left again. Or the other way around. I asked once and they said it is for good luck.
  • The word “dag!” is used at the beginning and the end of conversation. It can also be used as a casual greetings when we meet others in the hallway or elevator or any other casual occasion.
  • Going dutch. It is a thing here.
  • There is no cheesecake here, well, there are but very scarce. I mean, as a mass cheese producer, Netherlands just don’t do cream cheese and that is why they have no cheesecake as traditional recipe. Of course, there are some places which sell them but you must be on the look out if you have sudden cravings.
  • Indonesian food galore! As an Indonesian, I thank God that when I have to move out from Indonesia, I moved here. It is easy to find Indonesian food staples, even the one that people rarely like and eat. The prices are already adjusted to european price, naturally, but since it is imported, I don’t mind.
  • Investment in a parka and/or raincoat is a very clever move. It is very windy here and the weather can drastically change from bright sunshine into dark, cloudy and rain. Forget umbrellas, as they will be easily dented, inverted and inevitably broken by the heavy winds.
  • Sandwiches. It took me years to finally adhere to sandwich eating. They have plenty of varieties here, from the type of bread and to the fillings. At first, I just couldn’t get the hang of it, but now it is acceptable for my appetite.
  • I don’t know which comes first, the fact that there is almost no grand shopping malls here or that the people here are just not quick in adapting new trends. For instance, frozen yoghurt. In where I come from, when fro-yo craze hit the nation, everywhere you go there must be at least one fro-yo stall. Here, nah not so much. I only found 2-3 so far and no long queues. That also applies to Starbucks. Unless in highly swarmed places such as central station, it is mostly a short wait after you order until your order is ready.
  • Doggy poo-poo is everywhere. It is like a minesweeper walking in the pavement here. But the local government clean it although not very thoroughly. I actually never seen people scrubbing pavements. Since there exists a special dog tax for keeping dogs as pet, so I presume there must be some public facilities maintenance going on
  • Here, if someone winks (mengedipkan mata) at you it does not (necessary) means to flirt or show personal interest. It is actually more about acknowledgement for instance:
    1. They would wink at you when you meet them across the hallway and they will wink while say “Dag!” or “Hi!”
    2. They would wink to agree on a point such as you meet them during lunch and both hands are holding the lunch tray,Β and then they will ask “is (the meeting at) 4.30 okay with you?” and you say “no problem” and they will say “great!” while giving you a wink
    3. You want to ask question or say something but they are otherwise busy with phone calls, and you make gesture to tell them that you will wait in another room or comeback after 5 (minutes), and if they agree they will wink at you while holding a conversation with another person in the phone
  • In fact, the Dutch are known for their efficiency. Whenever they pick up the phone they always say their name instead of “hello”. So, if their name is Kania then they will pick up the phone with “met Kania” which means with Kania or Kania’s here. It is believed that the tradition was suggested by the phone company to save conversation time which in turn will save money off phone bills.
  • The people here are very open. Not just open minded but also open for conversation and any kind of questions. All you have to do is ask. Of course, you must be in a friendly and casual situation in order to do that. I mean, it’s not like you can approach any stranger in the street and ask them personal stuff. But with colleagues, it surely easier and it is as easy as “hey, tell me how was your weekend? do you spend it alone? with friends or girl/boyfriend? where do your girl/boyfriend work? how long have you been together? who makes the most money?” trust me I had asked that before in one session to a colleague and get all the answers without making my colleague feel interrogated.
  • Birthday treat. Here, also in Indonesia, the person who is having a birthday is the one who brings the cake and treat everyone. I think that was an universal norm. Apparently in some countries, the birthday boy/girl is the one getting all the treats (and gifts, of course) from everyone!
  • Tompouce. The most intriguing pastry I ever seen. It consists of two puff pastries with a very thick whipped cream layer. It is difficult to eat it gracefully but taste very delicious.
  • Cheese as snack. People here eat blocks of cheese as snack during cocktail hours along with drinks such as wines or sodas. I never knew there is such thing before because in Indonesia we don’t serve cheese as an individual dish but rather a part of a dish such as baked macaroni (yes, we have that kind of food in Indonesia) and others.

5 thoughts on “Things I Have Seen/Learned So Far in Netherlands

  1. Ooooh very interesting post. I can relate to some of the things you mentioned, being an Indonesian who’s living in Europe myself and having been to the Netherland – I love the country, by the way.
    I love riding a bike, when I visited NL we had a bike ride in Volendam, it was just superb! I also checked out an Indonesian restaurant in Amsterdam, had the best ice tea ever. Weird, I know. Ice tea! Ha!
    The three kisses thing, that got me. When my husband I went there, we met his cousin who’d been living in NL for almost two decades I think, he spoke Dutch fluently and his wife was Dutch. Very nice couple. But when it was time to say goodbye, with the kisses thing, I leant and drew myself back after the second kiss, while the lady was obviously expecting the third. That was embarrassing. I didn’t know, you see. We were there as tourists – ignorant ones, as it turned out – so they were the only people we had to interact with in a personal sense. It wasn’t until she said “Let’s do it the Dutch way” and explained it to me that I realised how stupid I was hahaha.
    As for sandwiches, I couldn’t agree more. πŸ˜€

    • Hahaha yeah I first thought that three kisses rule applies for all european. And then I went on a training with people from other germany and italy, when it is time to say goodbye, i kissed them 3 times and they all say “ooh how nice of you!” πŸ™‚

      Ooh Ice Tea! Was the restaurant near Amsterdam central/Dam Square? I think I know which one is it πŸ˜‰ It is also my fave and the only real Ice Tea, not the ice teas with soda in it, blegh 😐

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