Water map of Netherlands

 ...Why are you here?

So, I’m in week 4 of doing something a bit… different. For what to others seem like no apparent reason, I’ve decided to move to a quiet town in the Netherlands. Now the one thing I’ve found with the Dutch people, is there’s no beating around the bush! I’ve been meeting a lot of interesting people, but one question remains on the tip of their toungue at all times…

So, why did you decide to come here?

When the first person hit me with this question, I had to spend a moment to think of the answer. It’s not a simple one, and it’s complicated.

After all, what’s so bad with England? I could go into a big spiel about Brexit, but that’s not the reason. I’m not a politically motivated person, and while this event may have affected me personally, it doesn’t matter to me - I’m here now. I could talk about the lack of opportunities in the sleepy hometown I came from, but I didn’t have to move countries for that. No, I probably did it because I’m not afraid of a challenge, and I hate the fact that so many of us English people never feel the urge to leave the comfort of our island.

The differences between visiting and living

I’ve visited this small country so many times in my life, but you learn so much more by simply living in a place, whether it be something normal like buying groceries, or boring like setting up appointments at the stadthuis. I think the easiest way to sum it up is with a list.

  1. Love cycling? You better. I loved cycling for fun in the UK, but here it’s just a fact of life.
  2. Have you checked Buienradar today? Hope you checked the windspeed, because I forgot many times and ended up being late to things.
  3. They’re not rude, they’re just direct. Deal with it, they’re not going to skirt around the question.
  4. They smell the English on you. One small mess-up with the language, and they effortlessly switch to English. Nee, nederlands alsjeblieft… How will I learn…
  5. The paperwork! It’s so much more formal here. In England the government would just give you things - here you have to go and make appointments to get there.
  6. Hagelslag. Not much more to say here.
  7. I’ve heard Dutch people actually complain about the public transport system. It’s one of the best I’ve ever seen and you’re complaining about it? Come to England, where the bus drivers hate you and the trains never arrive.
  8. There are no boundaries to their humour. I’ve heard some things.
  9. I’m starting to forget what a hill looks like.
  10. And finally… as my grandmother puts it: God made the world, but the Dutch made the Netherlands. I really hope their dam building skills are as good as they say.

Below Sea Level Now, I don’t consider myself the greatest blogger on the planet, but Stuart’s blog sums up the experience so much better than I ever could! Got a few laughs out of that one.

Does it really matter?

Maybe I’ll answer the question with a question. In this growing age of globalisation, is it really so special to venture further away from home? With the internet, I could even set up a business in England while never touching the country. We’ve got space travel, hyperloops, and instant communication. If I have a language problem, I have an instant translator in my palm.

The only thing I see that is holding us all back is the bureaucracy and the paperwork. There was always going to be a catch, wasn’t there?

Published on Thursday 19 October 2017 by Elvin Luff