When you live in another country, there are of course challenging moments and/or situations, but there also those happy and funny moments that mark your stay in this country with a different perspective and point of view, a positive one. Those moments that you will always remember with a smile. For this reason, I want to share with you my 7 funny facts about my expat life in The Netherlands.
I have never studied Dutch or any other similar language, so coming from Italian, Spanish and French the first impact with Dutch was a bit challenging. I remember listening and getting basically nothing out of it the thing was that I didn't even recognise the single words, it all sounded like one loooong word. I know what you're thinking "What about the strong accent?", well I can't deny it: it was quite strange 😀 Now I can speak the language and I'm still studying as I want to be 100% fluent. Something even funnier is that since I moved here I prefer much more Dutch than German or Flemish eheheh
It was April when the first (very) warm day arrived after a cold and long winter, I have moved here since few months so I didn't know what spring would be like. One day I have decided to have a walk to the park and enjoy the sun. When I arrived I was surprised do you have the image of going to the beach and finding a crowd a lot of people in bikini putting sun cream on, playing volleyball, etc etc well this is exactly what I found that day at the park. For someone coming from the south of Italy and used to the beach, well this was quite impressive ehehe.
It didn't take me too long before transforming in a local for this too. Here you learn how to enjoy even a small corner of sun, as soon as it comes up you are ready to go and enjoy it as much as possible. You even see people sitting on their armchairs on the sidewalk, nope it's not crazy but it really makes you to enjoy and be grateful for the little things you have day by day.
When you grow up in a place where summer lasts approximately 4 months (at least) and most of this time there are around 40 degrees and, on top of all of this, you live in a sea town what do you do? Yes, you spend much of your time on the beach, but above all your body and skin are used to the "burning sun" there and you get tan even if you simply walk in the city. What happens when you live in The Netherlands and go back home in August for holidays? You're THE ONE with the whitest skin ever, everyone around you is tanned while you have to put sun protection cream (the highest one) in order to not burn down It happened to me and trust me, from experience I can tell you that it hurts like hell. And if you're wondering how many times it happened to me, well mainly when I moved here.
Ok, we all know that bikes are the main "public transport" in The Netherlands, so no big news here. Have you ever seen the bike parking around the train stations? Well, so big and sooo many bikes parked everywhere. My question when I first saw this was "how do I not loose my bike?", I mean I park it somewhere but it's more like a maze game will I be able to find it on my way back? My trick is to park it ALWAYS at the same spot or at least in the same area. I remember once I parked it next to a tree before going to gym, and when I came back I didn't find it .I was starting to panic when I realised I have parked it next to another tree so you see, maybe this trick doesn't always work. 😉
The nice thing about being born in July is that I can celebrate my birthday on the beach, and so I did for most of the years of my life. So happy and proud of this habit, I have decided to do the same also for my first birthday in The Netherlands. Together with my friends we went to the beach for a picnic, it was a bit chilly but we didn't care, I thought "it can't get too bad or too cold, it's July!". Well, we managed to eat something and luckily we had a couple of blankets with us .so we ended up eating with a blanket on and after a little while we decided to go back home and .turn the heating on because we were too cold (nope, trust me I'm not joking).
If you ever been in a typical Dutch house, you already know what I'm talking about. Dutch houses are narrow and tall, so are the stairs inside in the sense that each step is narrow and if you try to put your foot straight, it won't fit. The funny thing is that you learn your own technique to go up and down, for example putting your foot obliquely or going down while facing the steps (yes, I did this last one too).