A friend suggested I share how different life is for us since we’ve moved to Holland. And I argued that, compared to a lot of places we could have relocated to, it wasn’t that different from our daily routine in the US and we are still fairly boring and who cares anyway?
So then HE said, “… we never notice our own gradual, daily change… and from this side of the pond, the positive and radical changes come thru (imhop) in almost every post.”
To which I replied, “Oh.”
So, I’ve compiled a list of gradual changes I hadn’t really thought that much about and a few big changes I haven’t quite adjust to:
I don’t have to focus quite so much to survive walking sideways down the hellishly steep and narrow stairs of our 3-story apt anymore.
Translating labels to sort the difference between sour cream, heavy cream, & whipped cream is nearly impossible.
Outgoing mail must be taken to a box or a post office. And if you aren’t home when they try to deliver a package, they give it to your neighbor. Then you get to chat with your neighbor when you pick up your package.
You can buy alcohol any time/any day – even on Sunday morning!
- Attached to the grocery is a “drug store” where you get shampoo, CONTACT LENSES, makeup, etc. But you get your drugs at a pharmacy – attached to the doc’s office.
- Everyone goes to the GP (ours is at the end of our street) – there is no pediatrician.
- Lots of items ordered online have come in a fancy ziplock sort of bag inside the box.
- Having no car payment/insurance/responsibility is incredibly freeing.
- Our grocery store is 1/3 the size of Kroger but is close to home and has just about everything we need – except whole turkeys … and stuffing … and acorn squash … and corn on the cob.
- To pay for something online, I log into my bank app and scan the QR code. Also, we don’t have checks here.
- I ❤ my phone’s translate app.
- So many letters! If the vaccine office (oh yeah, there is a vaccine office) wants to set an appointment, they send you a letter. If you email to tell them the appointment time doesn’t work for you, they’ll reply by email that they will send you another letter.
My kid bikes 20 minutes in the dark and/or rain and/or wind and/or freezing cold to school and I don’t worry (too much).
We have a combo washer/dryer – this feels very European.
I miss my dryer.
- I can’t wrap my brain around celsius and have no clue what the weatherman is saying so, I just open the door to see if I need a coat.
- CNN has lovely British accents and covers lots of different countries!
- If I have to order from Amazon, I get to choose from the Dutch, German, and UK sites.
I don’t worry about getting raped or robbed or mugged or shot.
That feels different. And weird. And really, really nice.
The bits I can’t quite get used to:
- I say “sorry” far too much. If I’m in someone’s way, I say sorry when I should just get out of the way. There is no need to apologize.
- Letting people go ahead of me. This goes against the grain and confuses everyone.
- Teens (at least the ones I’ve noticed) do not show deference to the elderly in shops – even during a pandemic. And my Dutch is not good enough (yet) to yell more that AFSTAND at them.
- Being comfortable with having the right-of-way if I’m walking/biking. 50+ years of worrying, even in crosswalks with a walk sign flashing, and actually getting hit by a car once means this will take some time to get used to.
- No one will hold the door for me because I’m female and for a southern girl, that’s just not right.
There are loads more differences I either haven’t experienced (having a baby, specifically a Kraamverzorgster, here would be AMAZING!) or I’ve forgotten. If I think of more, I’ll write Possibly boring (possibly not?) changes … the sequel. Until then … I will keep working on the art of Niksen.
If you are an expat & have anything to add to these lists, please leave a comment!