maandag, augustus 07, 2006

Where I tell about weird Dutch things and ( promise to ) flash my livingroom


One of the things I love about blogging is the fact that it exposes me to weird little foreign cultural things I didn’t know before.. Sometimes this things make me chuckle. I still can’t get over the fact that Americans don’t wash their duvet covers but instead put sheets under them It seems so uncomfortable.

I sometimes thought about blogging them but I know from experiences that it sometimes can hurt a bit when someone chuckles about completely normal things..
So instead I made a list of things that might make you laugh when you are not Dutch.

Of course we are as diverse a people as everywhere so this is generalizing of course and tongue in cheek too.. (Gotta be careful have a lot of Dutch lurkers here it seems…)

1.We are Dutch , we live in the Netherlands. There is not such a thing as Europe and there are no Europeans. Not in the way that there are Americans anyway.. We have different languages, different cultures the only thing we share is ugly money (our old money was so beautiful, I miss it more for that reason then because of everything being way more expensive) and a shared feeling of superiority when we deal with Americans.

2. It is way easier in this country to be overdressed then underdressed. We are a very informal nation. In my experience being overdressed is a worse crime too.

3. Chances are this is born out of the fact that we travel by bike a lot and the fact that it always rains here.. There are said to be more bikes then people in this country and a very tiny count in my own street lets me to believe this is true (my garage 6 bikes, my house four people). I don’t know any native healthy grown ups that can’t bike. One day I’ll make some bike pictures here in town for you because it is often an impressive sight (the parking problems for bikes are as severe as for cars in this town).

4 We don’t do customer service as a rule. It is the most annoying thing in the world. People in shops will be often rude. And if they aren’t when you buy something they are when you come back. I cherish the independent shops I frequent that have nice people.. They make life so much more enjoyable..

I used to defend my country on this issue against whoever would raise the issue (lots of expats at husbands work) but I’ve given up, it is true. I still don’t think we are overly rude though. We Dutch prefer to call that direct (it more or less means the same in English as in Dutch). We ourselves see it as a virtue.

5 A very popular Dutch saying is “doe maar normaal dan doe je al gek genoeg” that translates roughly to “act normal that is already weird”. Weird won’t be walking the street in drag or dye your hair pink or anything like that. It probably would be something like building a pool in your backyard or tell anybody how much you earn or buying too expensive clothes.. It is not recommended to be anything above average..

6 This means that we aren’t into celebrities that much. If you ever see something famous most people walk by pretending not to see this person.. We do have our gossip mags but most people really couldn’t care less about the private life of celebs.. (We really completely did not understand the whole Clinton thing.. the normal dutch response would be “What do we care what someone does in his spare time)

7Dutch is not a disease of the throat I this actually a beautiful language that I love very much. I found a couple of sites where you can hear it (and can hear the IJ in my nick.. ) and learn it. One of the fun things we do in Dutch is make up words combining two words..; I never realized I did this in English as well until Amy once commented on it.. I felt a bit stupid but well she thought it was cute and I can’t seem to help it.. English is a second language after all.

8 We like it when a foreigner tries to speak Dutch but we usually answer in English anyway. Very frustrating for expat friends!

9 We are not proud of our country. Well we are but we won’t tell. It is a difficult thing. Patriotism is not a good thing in this country unless it has anything to do with football (soccer that is) or speedskating. It is a bit like complaining about your husband. When you complain to a friend and she agrees with you. NOT GOOD.. We love to bitch about our country but we still think we are the best anyway.. But we would never say so..

10 we are a very small country and it is crowded. We live with 1,023 people on a square mile ( according to wikipedia) . So we have tiny houses on tiny pieces of land. This whole post that shas been in my head for a while really wanted to be written when Angela of colorfool asked us to flash our livingroom and then next week our diningroom. I assume she will continue with the kitchen the playroom the utility and bathroom 1, 2 and 3.

We don’t have that. I live in a rather expensive newly build ( I feel the need to say that I only added this to tell you this is not small for Dutch standards, it is actually quite standard. My explaining though is clearly caused by the idea explained in 5) and I have a open plan /livingroom/kitching/diningspace of about 30 m3 . .) I do not know anybody with more then one bathroom. ( we do have downstairstoilets don’t worry) I ‘ll flash my livingroom below..

11 modern is a word that is cultural bound. So often a foreign blog will tag something as modern and in my eyes it is old fashioned. Often very beautiful old fashioned but old fashioned nonetheless. We don’t do pelmets. We don’t do fringe, we don’t do brown furniture (unless it is colonial teak but that is a bit passé too)

Some links to enjoy dutch living:

A few of our magazines online.

And the biggest real estate site in the Netherlands. Most houses have interior pictures (The dutch word is foto) . The setting is amsterdam 200.000 up to 600000 euro’s. Change it if you feel adventurous…

You'll have to wait onpics of my livingroom because my camera won't work..

6 opmerkingen:

Gina zei

I love learning about other countries and there ways are so fascinating to me. I have heard a lot of people don't wash there comforters or duvet covers but I wash mine about once a month. I was telling my mother about the magazine you sent me in the mag swap and how I LOVED it and want to redo most of my house..LOL
She said her grandmother, my great grandmother, said her people were Dutch. And that they were black dutch, I don't if that is really bad or what, but my mom said, she said it just meant that they were dutch people with black hair and eyes???
Thanks for sharing.

Amy zei

More great lists from Mijk.

First off, I'll tell you that I certainly did not want you to feel bad by pointing out your combining words. I can only speak English and a little German so I can not ever criticize someone's language skills. EVER. It was one of my favorite things about learning German -- those words that are so long and are 2/3 words put together into one. These are in Dutch too so the fact that you do it in English is just your own little personalization of the language.

Hmmm - So you put a bottom sheet over your mattress and then a cover over your feather bed and call it a day? No top sheet? What about when you need more warmth? Or less warmth?

And for the records, I would love to hear the other things that you think are weird about the US -- well, a short list anyway. :-)

manda zei

What a great post! I love learning about all our differences. The whole duvet thing is weird to me too!

Amy zei

Oh, and I laughed so hard when you said that Europeans shared only money and a sense of superiority when talking about Americans. That is so fantastic and so well put. I'm not gonna argue - you guys are superior in so many ways.

zoetegoed zei

Je hebt het leuk en goed neergezet.
Ik herken het helemaal.

karin zei

/spot on !!! :)
the bit about superior in dealing with americans? i think we dutch think we are superior to all. a lot of us are a bit smug and love to overexplain. the UK had a Grolsch commercial where a guy was explaining to all about the beer in a typical dutch thorough way :)

we are direct: when I lived in the UK I sat in meetings a lot thinking either: what are they talking about or stop beating around the bush, getting annoyed with this and start getting direct. too direct for the english :) but hey: we got special lessons in my school to become opiniated.

also: our sense of humor. in general it's a bit one dimensional :) we also don't get the 'laughing at yourself'. living with an englishman I've learned quickly.

btw the extra sheet like the americans do, it's really comfortable. they do comfort very well!

I really enjoyed this entry :)