27 May, 2011

Three Years and Counting...

Yesterday marked my three year anniversary living in the Netherlands.  I can't believe how the time has flown by!  I didn’t have the time to blog about it yesterday as I was far too busy getting my hair done and then drinking pink bubbles.  Not a bad way to celebrate, eh?  Now I have a few moments to squeeze out a post before I race off to the Amsterdam Comedy Festival to see some fantastic acts such as Brendon Burns and and our ‘own’ Greg Shapiro, so I’ll be brief.

How does it feel to have reached it to this point?  Initially I was only planning to be in the Netherlands for a year, 18 months max.  I had plans in Australia.  I was moving to Perth and going to tour the west coast.  But, somehow life managed to derail my plans.  Maarten found a job that he loves and we bought a house and married, so we are locked in for another three and a half years.

Will I make it to 2014?  I can’t honestly say.  I have good days and bad days living here.  If the weather is good I can manage the bad days, but winter is a real struggle (note to self:  find a career that means I can spend summer in NL and summer in Aust).  I do have very serious problems with the people.  I’m endlessly frustrated by the lack of awareness of other people and just today I came to a revelation:  Dutch people live like they drive.  On the freeway drivers react, they don’t anticipate.  So, instead of looking at the driver ahead in the right lane and noticing that they are going to change lanes and compensating, the driver will maintain his or her speed until the other car pushes in then they hit the brakes (braking on the freeway unnecessarily is a pet hate of mine).  Walking around town it is exactly the same.  People walk around, but don’t assess what’s coming towards them so will maintain their line until they bump into another person.  Then, because there is a general refusal to accept that there is anybody else in the world, neither person will acknowledge the other and just keep walking.  Or, they will mutter and curse because they were crashed into when they could have easily avoided the incident themselves if they had been more aware.  Some Dutch people will argue until they are blue in the face that this is a ‘Ranstad’ problem, but I’ve been to every province and I see no difference.

Ahem.  Sorry, that became a bit ranty and that’s not what this post is supposed to be about!

What do I love about living here?  Well mostly I love that the Netherlands is almost the centre of the universe.  Within an hour (or so) I can be in Germany or Belgium.  I live next to one of the most vibrant cities in Europe, I can visit any number of art galleries filled with masterpieces, beer is cheap and I can cycle absolutely everywhere.  Not being many hills, this is especially good!  I love the food (aside from the icky fish that I talked about here), especially the winter stews and I love that since I’ve lived here I have seen some of the biggest bands on the planet.  I’m off to see Neil Diamond in a couple of weeks and they don’t cost the earth.  We just bought tickets to the ultimate Nanna Heartthrob André Rieu for less than half price.  Living in Alice Springs the extent musical entertainment includes local cover bands, a really bad DJ at Melankas (thank goodness they finally tore that hell hole down!) and the pub juke box.

What’s next for me?  I have a couple goals in the pipeline to keep me busy in the next twelve months.  As I have been living here as Maarten’s partner for three uninterrupted years, I am now eligible to apply for dual nationality.  I just have to find the cash to pay the €700+ fee.  I’m also hoping to get my driver’s license.  Sadly I’m unable to exchange my Australian license for a Dutch one so I have to sit the theory exam and take endless driving lessons to start over.  The bonus is that I can take the test in English and I can find a condensed one day course to do it.  I plan to blog (rant?) about both as they happen, so stay tuned!


Tammy (Canadutch) said...

All understandable feelings at the 3 year mark I think :) It's a long adjustment period here in the Netherlands, I'm not sure why that is so but it's true, we seem to have a harder time than expats in other countries. After being here for so many years I've come to appreciate a lot about the Dutch but some of your pet peeves still remain mine as well.

I do hope you decide to stay because one day I hope we'll actually get a chance to meet up! :)

Congrats on your expativersary!

Anonymous said...

Please list your pet peeves...I'd like to compare notes!

Connie said...

I have to agree with Tammy and You, most of those are still my pet peeves. But when I first got here, I used to actually CALL THEM ON IT, I've since given up. My belief that one person can raise a village was shattered early on by my migraines from hitting my head repeatedly against a wall. Thus, I've grown a thicker skin and dutchized, if someone runs into me, I still say excuse me, manners being something some Dutch seemed to have never learned, but I do now keep walking not stopping to see if they're mad or not. :) I think it's just a question of letting go.....I used to get so pissed, man did I get angry and frustrated about it, but it didn't change their behavior it only made me unhappy. I think this is where that whole tolerating the unintolerable comes in that makes the Dutch who they are, they just don't give a rat's behind, so frankly I wonder, why should I :)

Anna Maria Moore said...

This was fun reading as I am almost to my year 4 milestone and I recognized myself in a lot of what you wrote. I could have written the same things about living in Norway! Except the good parts. We have other good bits in Norway instead. If you are reflecting on living in Maarten's home for this long, you might enjoy reading my article too. http://www.denizenmag.com/2011/05/i-love-you-but-i-want-to-leave/

Norman said...

Wow - I've lived here 21+ years, and have some of the same pet peeves. Especially about not looking ahead, not able to anticipate. We just arrived this am from a couple months in the USA, and at Schiphol there it was again!
I just thought it was me who had that problem, it's good to know I'm not entirely crazy. Or maybe there is a small group of people who are crazy in the same way.
Anyway - congrats on your anniversary!

Unknown said...

@Tammy, I don't get to Rotterdam often (mostly only to Ahoy for concerts), but when I get the chance I'll be looking you up!

@Anonymous, you may have given me an idea for a post there... Don't know if it would be too well received by the Dutchies though!

@Connie Wow. I just want to be where you are now. It's wonderful to know that I'm not alone in my frustrations!

@Anna Maria, Thank you so much for sharing your article, it really resonated. Although I'm no TCK I'm filled with Wanderlust and always looking for the next place to go. "I love you but I want to leave," very poignant.

@Norman I'm so pleased that you also have the same feelings as me! Everywhere else I go it seems that people flow seamlessly around one another, but here it's all dropped shoulders and shoving through. What's worst is that I find myself doing it too. But I actually anticipate and brace. Probably means I'm worse than what annoys me most! Thanks for the good wishes!

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