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These are the 10 things I will miss the most when I leave the Netherlands

After four wonderful years in the Netherlands, it’s time for me to bid adieu to the land of cheese and tulips.

From “I have no clue what’s going on” to becoming an expert at devouring friets while dodging bicycles on my way to work, I have come a long way.

As I pack my bags, I can’t help but reminisce about what I will miss the most about this beautiful country.

1. The terrifying but somewhat comforting Dutch directness

Dutch people
Dutch people

The Dutch have achieved the status of no-bullshit masters. They are not being rude; they are just delivering doses of honesty with a side of cheese.

At first, I complained about their directness, but I soon realised how fortunate I was to reside in a country that embraced my unfiltered self.

However, I was left dumbfounded after asking a friend if she slept well in my bed (I had played the gracious host who slept on the sofa) and she responded with a casual “Not at all.”

Oh well, the joys of Dutch honesty!

2. An egalitarian society

Welcome to the land of equal opportunity and brutally honest critiques!

In the Netherlands, respect is not handled like free cheese samples at the market. You’ve got to earn it.

In this land of egalitarian wonders, every person is on the same playing field and should be treated equally in identical situations.

Sounds easy, but as a fresh expat, I could not question my boss’s ideas. Meanwhile, my Dutch colleagues had zero qualms about critiquing our manager’s proposals like it was a sport.

Foreigners might perceive it as rudeness, but the Dutch? They call it “open and honest” feedback.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a boss to interrogate about that article revision.

3. The magic of receiving holiday pay

Dutch-King's-Day
Dutch-King’s-Day

Holland has a perpetual rainy season with 79cm of precipitation yearly. The Dutch know how to make the most of the sun by holding epic festivals and events.

But extra fun requires extra cash, and the Dutch have it figured out: vakantiegeld. Every employer in the Netherlands must pay their staff an additional sum on top of their gross salary.

Holiday pay is sometimes called the 13th month because it’s almost equivalent to an extra month’s salary. Talk about making it rain in more ways than one! 💰

4. The chaos of King’s Day

King’s-Day-(Koningsdag)
King’s-Day-(Koningsdag)

Imagine an entire nation putting on a massive orange-themed extravaganza to celebrate their monarch’s special day — welcome to King’s Day in the Netherlands!

April 27 is King Willem-Alexander’s birthday, a national holiday in the Netherlands.

On King’s Day, the Netherlands transforms into a playground of epic proportions, from flea markets to open-air festivals.

What is the best way to enjoy Koningsdag? Paint Dutch flags on your face and indulge in oranje tompouce, the ultimate treat fit for a king (or queen)! 🇳🇱

For Dutchies, orange is the new black!

5. A feeling of general safety

Hold your wooden shoes because the Dutch have taken crime fighting to a new level! With declining crime rates, they have closed 23 prisons since 2004.

While the Netherlands may seem like a safe haven, they have their own brand of mischief. The most common crimes involve sneaky thieves, expert pickpockets, and the occasional drug-related shenanigans.

As a female, I have thoroughly enjoyed my freedom — the streets are well-lit, locals are friendly, and walking (or biking) home after late-night parties is practically a piece of stroopwafel.

6. The freedom from cash

In the land of tulips and windmills, physical currency is so last century! I have yet to carry cash in my four years of living here.

Like the Dutch, I have mastered the art of wallet minimalism; credit cards, debit cards, Tikkie, iDEAL, ApplePay — you name it, Dutchies have it.

One must remember the Dutch language crash course that came with this money revolution: forget “Hello” or “How are you?” Instead, the first words you learn in the Netherlands are the golden phrases “Geen contant” (no cash) and “Alleen pinnen” (only card).

Want to pay your rent? Use your card. Want to buy groceries? Use your card. Want to use the public washroom for €0.50? Use your card!

Join the Dutchies in their quest for a cashless utopia. Happy swiping!

7. A sense of work-life balance

In the beginning, the Dutch work culture had me scratching my head, wondering what to do with all the extra time I had after finishing my work.

My job ended at 5 PM, and I was sleeping around midnight. That left me with a whopping seven-hour stretch of leisure!

In my desperate quest to fill the hours, I considered taking another job. But then it hit me — no wonder the Netherlands ranks fifth worldwide for work-life balance, according to the OECD index.

So, follow my lead if you’re wondering what to do with your ample Dutch downtime: find a cosy spot by the canals, grab some poffertjes, and let the hours slip away like a lazy canal boat.

8. How tall people are

At 1.74 metres, I tower over most Indians. With the average Indian female height of 1.55m, I felt like an NBA player compared to my fellow countrymen.

Then destiny brought me to the Netherlands, and suddenly I felt like I found my tribe!

But why are the Dutch so dang tall? Several theories have sprouted, ranging from their meat-rich diets to the gallons of milk they gulp down like there’s no tomorrow to surviving sea floodings like true aquatic superheroes.

Therefore, if you have ever felt like a giant, fear not; Holland awaits! Embrace your towering status and let the Dutch spirit lift you to new heights … quite literally!

9. The extensive public transport

For most people coming to the Netherlands, Dutch transportation means one thing: the bicycle.

While the Dutch have created an excellent biking infrastructure worldwide, their public transport network is worth mentioning too. The Dutch public transportation system is efficient, clean, and reasonably priced.

Wherever I want to go, I can get there quickly and comfortably by train, bus, metro, tram, ferry, water boat, water taxi, and more.

The Dutch have taken convenience to a new level with the OV-chipkaart, their national smart-card payment system for public transportation.

No more fumbling for loose change or dealing with confusing ticket systems. Just tap that OV-chipkaart and voila!

10. The hilarious Dutch idioms

Like any other language, Dutch has its fair share of peculiar sayings and idioms that sound bizarre to non-native speakers.

While I struggled to remember simple Dutch words like “vliegtuig” (that’s “airplane,” in case you’re wondering), I effortlessly memorised their mind-boggling idioms.

Where else but in the Netherlands can you have a monkey up your sleeve or witness rain falling like steel pipes? Oh, the joy of saying “Helaas pindakaas” (Too bad, peanut butter) and casually walking away as if nothing unexpected happened.

But my favorite has to be “Doe maar normaal, dan doe je al gek genoeg.” It’s like the Dutch motto for life: “Act normal because that’s crazy enough.”

Maris Lopez
Maris Lopezhttp:////my-lifestyle.co
Hey there! I'm Maris, an American girl who is passionate about adventure, the outdoors and all things travel!
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