Early morning in Eindhoven
My hot Chocolate cools away in the background, the smell of Sinterklaas and Christmas rises from the open bag of Kruidnoten that I’ve been nibbling my way through while wearing my Christmas jumper. The Christmas lights glow on the TV stand, the street out the window also lights up with Christmas lights around trees and hedges. I take a deep breath, and smile.
I’m just over two months into living in The Netherlands and I couldn’t be more happy with how nice everyone was and how easy it has been to settle in. Okay, I make the odd mistake every now and then by not having a clue what the signs in the store say, but ik spreek geen Nederlands.
With being in the middle of a global pandemic, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well I’ve settled into The Netherlands with the help of my flatmate, work colleagues and friends. Getting introduced to Frikandelbrood (Like a sausage roll but better), Kapsalon (Omg I’m in love and totally haven’t now had it three times) and Stamppot (I’m still to be convinced) was quite the surprise! Outside of Stroopwaffels, I’ve never seen the Dutch as big cultural foodies
It’s not just the food I wasn’t expecting, the Dutch directness is real but it works so well! You know where you stand with people, you know you don’t need to worry that they’re just being polite, if they’re pissed off, they’ll tell you. It also takes you by surprise sometimes, coming from the UK where we are very much ‘Sorry, I’ll be quiet and not ask this question cause it’s too direct’. The Dutch don’t have a problem with going ‘So why are you here?’, ‘What about your family?’ or ‘Are you planning on learning Dutch?’ as Vanessa Hope van Engelen points out too in this article
| Dutch directness: 5 questions you'll get in the Netherlands|
Dutch directness, oh lord! Here's the most frequently asked questions I have encountered from the locals since my arrival, and how you can answer them.
I’m far from complaining here, I actually like it a lot, you know where you stand with someone, you know when you’ve messed up and you know how its going
Just like the British, Dutch people also like getting good bargain much to my surprise. The Dutch are far from given low wages, some companies cover travel costs and subscriptions are amazingly low cost! Amazon Prime is €2.99 whereas in the UK it’s £7.99, I can get every F1 and F2 session live and I can watch back years of content for €7.99/month whereas Sky F1 is £18/month but yet they still love a good bargain
The weather, oh my, the weather. I didn’t quite know what to expect, I’d heard from ex-colleagues that the summers were stupidly hot, we’re talking high 30s, but we’re not in the summer, we’re in the winter and boy is it getting cold. It’s not so much cold as such, but the wind is brutally chilly, I suppose I shouldn’t have expected anything different in such a flat country…
December in The Netherlands
My final note for now, is how nice it is to be welcomed and introduced to traditions in the country so quickly and become involved in them. A friend introduced me to the NPO Top 2000, a yearly event on NPO 2 (Dutch radio) where anyone can go in and vote from a massive list of songs for their favourite songs. You can vote for a maximum of 35 songs and whilst this may sound like a lot… Trust me, it’s not. I had 50 in my list at one point… It’s also not a fast process, I took at-least an hour to put my list together and whittle it down to just 35!
This weekend is/would have been Sinterklaasfeest, an annual event where small presents are given, poems exchanged, food consumed, Saint Nicholas comes to town and people give chocolate letters to each other for some unknown reason…
What I’m trying to say really is I love it all! Don’t change Dutchies, keep Dutching.