Dutch life from the perspective of an expat living in these flat lands for 6 months is the focus of this post. It is an amorous missive – perfectly timed in the run-up to the most romantic of days.
Dear Netherlands (or the more affectionate nickname, Holland),
It’s been just over six months since we began our relationship. It hasn’t always been easy, and we have had our ups and downs. As with any relationship, we seemed to put our best foot forward at first. You, sharing long summer days with me – and me, stopping to smell the tulips and learning to bike ride on your cobblestone streets. However, true selves always show. We survived your constant rain in October, and you dealt with the roller coaster of my emotions as I went through culture shock. Nevertheless, on our 6-month anniversary, I wanted to share some of the things that I love and appreciate:
I have come to really love biking. Sure, it’s not my favourite thing when it is cold or rainy but there is something so wonderful about actually “seeing” what is around you. It helps me to be so much more present and attuned with the world and people around me.
2. Your people
While the Dutch have a reputation for being direct, I have only encountered people who are very welcoming and have a great sense of humour.
3. Your work/life balance
My 7-year old son told me that my stress level was at 100% in the United States and told me it is now only at 50%. I’ll take a 50% reduction in stress levels any day. It does limit your customer service skills, but it is really eye-opening to see “family-first” in action with so many dads caring for their children and moms working part-time.
4. Your innovation
Things just work in the Netherlands. It’s amazing to think that one-third of the country below sea level, yet you found a way to make it work. Your solutions are beautifully practical and designed to help the entire community.
5. Your love for kids
I have yet to run out of things to with my kids. From museums to children’s corners at the cafe, you can tell that the children are considered and can always have a unique adventure.
6. Your love for nature
Your beauty extends beyond your canals. The national parks and beaches are lovely and while I have yet to experience the phenomenon of a Dutch camping trip, I can only imagine them as a fun camp for kids and adults.
7. Your parenting style
While not easy for me, you have taught me to give up some control and let kids be kids. No more worrying if my 4-year old can read, you are focusing on what matters, like her social and emotional well-being.
8. Your easy-going attitude
What I believe to be the secret of your success, is that you don’t sweat the small stuff. Things happen and instead of ruminating about it or feeling like the victim, you let it go or fix it. It’s a very refreshing outlook on life.
There are some things that we still need to work on including your housing prices and not so impressive food options but, overall, I’m so happy that we have chosen to spend our lives with you.
I have become to really love biking… There is something so wonderful about actually “seeing” what is around you. It helps me to be so much more present and attuned with the world and people around me.