50 Things I’ve learned about Holland

Last year in celebration of my new found intelligence and reaching the perfect midpoint to my life (yes, I intend to live till I’m 100) I came up with 50 things I’ve learned about living in The Netherlands… so far. Remember, I’ve been here just a little more than one year.

  1. Almost everyone in The Netherlands speaks English so there’s no need to ask Rosetta for help. At least not yet!
  2. Shopping carts can go sideways and are designed that way to help give your arms a workout at the market.
  3. Always keep your change. Some of those are 1 and 2 Euro a piece.
  4. Knowing how to drive a stick shift is a good thing. You never know… just saying!
  5. Pot is not legal (at least that’s my knowledge for this week).
  6. Coffee shops offer more than coffee.
  7. Saying hello or good bye to a friend… pucker up! Right, left, right or is it left, right, left? Not sure, just trying not to hit anyone on the lips.
  8. ‘Let Op’ is a good sign to know when driving… especially if there’s a picture of someone on a bike below it.
  9. Drinking age is 16.
  10. Taxes are up the yin yang, so get your yin and your yang on that city bus.
  11. It was easy to find my Doctor. I was assigned to the same Doctor as everyone in my neighborhood.
  12. My dentist does not believe in Novocain… but he now understands that I do!
  13. When looking for a house to buy or lease be prepared for the home owner to be home while you’re looking at their house. They also love to take you on a guided tour. Makes it difficult to point out the new blue carpet from 1950 is just not your taste.
  14. When you walk into a Dutch home you will be greeted by a coat closet and a bathroom (usually with cold running water only).
  15. Coffee is part of a balanced diet.
  16. French fries with mayo is also a major food group.
  17. Dutch stairs are like climbing Mount Everest. Take a flag with you and jam it into the ground when you reach the top.
  18. Coming downstairs requires you to take off your socks unless you feel the need to visit the local hospital.
  19. Driving age is 18.
  20. I’m living below sea level.
  21. The Dutch are ingenious at figuring out how to fit things into small spaces.
  22. Biking is not only great exercise, it’s a means for transportation. I’m teaching my dog to run next to mine!
  23. If you are a Queen, the whole country will celebrate your birthday! Nice!
  24. Orange is not the new black. It’s The Netherland’s colour and they all wear it with pride!
  25. Using a fork and a knife at the same time to eat. No fingers allowed.
  26. Graffiti is cool if done in the right places. Love that Berenkuil!
  27. There’s no getting away from the rain. You just have to embrace it and enjoy the green wonderful life it brings.
  28. Listening to the radio or TV is difficult in Dutch but 4-letter words translate just fine and they are not afraid to use them.
  29. It’s ok to pee outside, especially if the city provides you with the outdoor urinals right in the middle of the town center.
  30. Lunches and dinners may take up to 3 hours or more.
  31. Tipping is usually a very small amount if any at all.
  32. Just because you are driving down a main road does not mean you have the right of way. Watch out for the shark teeth or lack thereof.
  33. While driving if someone taps their forehead with their fingers he’s telling you that you are a stupid driver and what were you thinking. I know this because I used this signal today when a man tried to back his car into my car and blame it on me.
  34. Speeding tickets come in the mail and there is no way to bat your eyes and talk your way out of them.
  35. Joining groups with women from all over the world has been one of the best choices of my life. These women are brave, intelligent and oh so much fun!
  36. The hamburgers here are horrible! If you try one don’t say I didn’t warn you!
  37. I’ve really taken an interest in art. I enjoy the history and learning about the different styles and artists. And I’ve enjoyed picking up a paint brush and painting a few things myself.
  38. The doors here are amazing! Are they leading somewhere and calling to us to open them? I just want to open up and take a peek. They are all so unique and interesting.
  39. The flowers and scenery are beautiful. It’s shocking to see field after field flooded with the colours of the tulips.
  40. Watching the people skate on the canals when they froze over was amazing! I will get skates before that happens again! One area right by us someone had shoveled out into the snow on the canal… WINTER 2012. There was not one other foot print around. Very cool!
  41. For 2 Euro you can enjoy an afternoon of wonderful music at the Muziekgebouw in Eindhoven. Go with a good friend to lunch and then the concert and you have the perfect afternoon. Lunchpauzeconcert!
  42. Within 20-30 minutes I can be in Belgium at one of my favorite places, Postel. A monastery with Monk beer and cheese! So enjoyable.
  43. A canal ride through Amsterdam is a very interesting and enjoyable experience. I love listening to them talk about the city.
  44. The beauty of a windmill still shocks me. The perfect blades, slowly moving through the winds of time.
  45. Carnival is CRAZY but Fun!
  46. Churches are closing all over The Netherlands. People just aren’t going to church like they used to. I find this incredibly sad.
  47. My favorite place to view the flowers is the Keukenhof.
  48. I love going to the Kinderdijk to see the windmills.
  49. Roundabouts are not meant to drive you crazy but to get you going in the right direction a little faster.
  50. On a sunny day it’s perfectly normal to throw the windows open and air out your bed linens. I truly enjoy this and will continue to do this forever. In a few short weeks I will celebrate yet another year of a life full of family, friends, laughter and fun! So blessed to be spending it here in the great land of The Netherlands.

“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!” ? Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Lisa Jochim

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