What is an expat?
An expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing, as an immigrant, in a country other than that of their citizenship. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (“out of”) and patria (“country, fatherland”).
So I guess that makes me an expat in the Netherlands. Originally I was born and raised in a small town in Bavaria, Germany. At the age of 19 I decided to pack my moving boxes and move to Maastricht.
I did my bachelors in Maastricht, which took 3 years. After those 3 years I decided to move on and move to Utrecht a bigger city in the center of the Netherlands doing my medical degree and clinical research master. For me as for many people coming from Germany moving to the Netherlands means adapting to many things, and giving up others.
Whenever I tell people that it takes time to adapt to the dutch way of things people look at me with big eyes.
Is dutch not the same thing as deutsch?
So dutch, the language which is being spoken in the Netherlands is definitely a different language than german (“deutsch”in german). So yes, even though you are a native deutsch speaker does not mean you can understand or speak dutch. We all need to learn it the way everyone does. Okay, I have to admit that learning dutch is easier for deutsch speaking people than any other language speaking people.
Here some examples Dutch-German-English:
1. Ik hou van jou. – Ich liebe dich . – I love you.
2. ambulance – Krankenwagen – ambulance
3. vlinder – Schmetterling – Butterfly
4. Ik ben bang. – Ich habe Angst. – I am afraid.
Germans do not have many dishes to be proud of. The same counts for the dutch cuisine, which in my eyes is even worse than the german one.
However, german bread is known worldwide and there is a good reason for that. Germans have a great variety of bread with a great consistancy. They can be divided into four categories: rye, wheat, whole meal and specialty breads containing other cereals such as spelt.
- Bread Rolls (Semmeln oder Brötchen)
- Farm Bread (Landbrot)
- Five Seed Bread (Fünfkornbrot)
- Pretzels (Brezel)
- Pumpernickel (Pumpernickel)
- Sunflower Seed Bread (Sonnenblumenbrot)
In the Netherlands, you mainly have the dutch bread which is 95% air and a little bit of bread. You need to eat 10 slices in order to feel any type of saturation.
In Germany having a car means you use it on highways, and speed up whenever possible. You overtake other cars all the time. It is exciting to drive the car in Germany. In the Netherlands people really drive on the right lane and can go like that for minutes and even hours without taking over any other cars. The lanes on the left are empty most of the time. Of course the difference might be that there are no speed limits on many Autobahn’s in Germany, whereas in the Netherlands 130 km/h is the top limit.
In Germany traffic is easy as there are only pedestrians to consider, but in the Netherlands there are bikes coming from everywhere all the time. And it seems like rules do not apply to cyclists. Cyclists have the right to drive as crazy as they want and no car driver would ever get angry or say something. And bike traffic jams are not uncommon in the Netherlands. In Germany you see bikes very sporadically.
Are Dutch direct or just rude?
A common complaint from expats upon arrival in the Netherlands is how rude Dutch are. Even some Dutch people returning to the Netherlands after being abroad for a few years share the same opinion. In a survey published in De Telegraaf in 2006 the Dutch voted themselves as the third rudest nation in the world behind the Russians and the French. The most common defensive answer of some Dutch is that Dutch are direct and not rude. For me it is clear, Dutch are offensive and hurting feelings of others without even noticing.
There have been many articles published about this topic, for the ones interested:
Why am I so certain about my opinion? Germans are politically correct all the time, with real diplomatic skills. Germans are so politically correct that even their culture is ruled by that correctiveness. Germans think 3 times before they say what they think. They would think about, if the comment the want to make is appropriate in that situation, for that person, at that time of the day or in this century.
For Germans the Dutch “directness” can be taken as rude behaviour!
Mountains vs. nothing
A country with mountains and hills was turned in for a country without tread.
The Netherlands is geographically a very low and flat country, with about 26% of its area and 21% of its population located below sea level, and only about 50% of its land exceeding one metre above sea level.
If you are used to some hills and mountains and the beautiful scenery while looking on mountains, the Netherlands will disappoint you big times.