It had to be a catchy title, otherwise you wouldn’t bother reading.
In august I celebrated 8 years since I moved to The Netherlands. I decided to share with you my most important learnings from this period of time.
- Don’t get emotionally attached to your bike. No matter how long you’ve been together through those windy, rainy, wet, miserable but also blissful bike trips. What I’m about to say is going to hurt but there’s no way around it: your bike will get stolen. It is as certain as the fact that autumn is waiting at the doorstep with some exciting meteorological ups and downs. Nothing logical about them, by the way. In fact, Dutch weather defeats logic.
- If you’re about to allow for a major fuck-up to happen which will affect a Dutch person, try to warn them as soon as possible. That’s right! Whether your fuck-up is intended or unintended, whether it’s big (forgetting to buy bread for broodje – the lunch meal which consists of sandwiches) or small (being late to a meeting), send them a message to announce the arrival of the fuck-up. You’ll thank me later. ‘Why?’, you might ask. Well, let me explain: according to my observations, Dutch people can handle much better a fuck-up that was on the agenda (even if added last-minute) rather than a completely surprising, unplanned, not-discussed-in-a-meeting fuck-up.
- Accept the staircases. The insane staircase that leads you to your home-sweet-home is present in most Dutch houses. So even if where you live the staircase is decent, your friends’ staircase might not be the case. Which rhymes!
- Prevent hibernation! When the cold, grumpy season settles in, you’ll be tempted to spend most of your evenings exposing yourself to Netflix-flow. Choose a different kind of flow – the one that contributes to your happiness. Plan to be active and productive! Register to a course, get a gym subscription, join a community according to your interests. Anything that will get you OFF that couch. This is how Dutch people, despite the weather, are one of the happiest nations in the world. And you can throw statistics in my face but I know what I’ve seen these 8 years: a lot of happy people, both young and old. Every person has a hobby, a physical activity (you have total freedom of choice on how naughty that activity is) that keeps them in shape and smiling.
- Learn Dutch! It really makes a difference, even if most people speak English. Learning Dutch is important not only for understanding the culture but also for belonging to this society. I have noticed that it’s much easier to make Dutch friends and get practical things done if you make the effort of speaking their language, even with mistakes. You get kindness in exchange for that effort.
- Contribute! The Netherlands is a small country and because of that they have a strong feeling of community. For example, if you ask for support, in any form, be it financial or personal, you will need to prove that you’re ready to bring your own value to an institution or a relationship of any kind. Don’t expect that people will help you out of pity. First, you need to prove that you are able to make the effect of that support last.
- Look around with a feeling of wonder. If you’re willing to SEE, you will realise that a lot of work has been put into making the ordinary Extraordinary. You are surrounded by opportunities to learn, to be curious. A construction site will have little windows in the fence around it so that you can take a peak at the progress. Bike tunnels have beautiful graffiti to steal from you the feeling of routine.
- Be proud of where you came from and share your culture with the Dutch people. When I first arrived in The Netherlands, I used to get annoyed or be slightly embarrassed when people didn’t know in which part of the world Moldova was located. I have turned that weakness into a strength point. I enjoy making people discover Moldova through my stories about it and through the wine tastings I organise.