Written by Lieuwe Sosef
Photography by Wietse Jongsma
This question is of course very broad, so I’ll try and talk about some aspects.
I was born, and currently live in the Netherlands, but I’ve lived in Africa for 3 years, where I studied at an American international school, and my parents currently work in Belgium. This means I have some reference about living in the Netherlands as opposed to Belgium or the USA (I don’t think the Netherlands vs Africa needs a lot of explaining).
What I notice about the netherlands is that everything is very structured and thought out. This means: effective public transport, not a lot of weird rules that you have to follow without reason, and in general procedures with large (government-) facilities are more streamlined than in other countries.
As I said, my parents work in belgium. This means I’ve seen a lot of REALLY complicated, useless forms, ON PAPER, for anything you want done by the government. In the Netherlands, this is way more smoothed out. Almost all government-related things are digitalised.
The road network in the netherlands is quite weird. Remember what I said about things being well thought out? Not the roads :)
Roads are of high quality. They drive super-smooth, almost no pot-holes, even in the small roads in the back-country. The problem is, highways in the netherlands are almost all “upgraded” provincial roads. This means that, although there is plenty of highway, there are often no fast detour routes over smaller roads that you can take when the highway is closed or traffic is really busy. This means that traffic on highways is OFF THE CHARTS on highways across the entire country, especially when everyone is trying to go to/from work. Prepare to be stuck in it. A lot. Luckily, public transport is really good, so you can also choose not to take the car.
A BIG difference between the culture I saw on my american school and in the Netherlands, is that people from the USA tend to be “fake” nice. What I mean with this is that they will exaggerate how excited they are to see you, especially in the first few weeks of knowing you (i.e. “ OMG SOOOO nice to meet you!!!!”). When they know what’s up and have decided if you’re worth keeping as a friend, they will change their behaviour into something more modest. This was quite something to get used to for me, but it will also work the other way around. If you are new in the Netherlands from the US or another country with this kind of mentality, Dutch people might seem very closed/cold. This is not always the case, people just don't easily show emotions that they don’t feel at that moment.
A downside to things being so well-organised in the Netherlands, is that it is very hard to achieve something that isn’t “like usual”. Hassling your way through security/customs in a building because you need to be somewhere QUICK doesn’t work, even if you know all the people there. If you have a house, and you want to, for example, build a shed on your land, prepare for a LOT of bureaucratic bullcrap with the local authorities. This can be quite stressing, even for local dutch people who should be used to it.
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Photography was taken from the following Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/11497410@N08/albums/72157656164907843/with/21003349324/