The 10: Weird Dutch behaviours
The following is a story of a lost soul in the Dutch community. She is an Erasmus student from Venezuela who has never been in the Netherlands before. In her first days, she encounters several behaviours and customs that may escape the tourist’s eye, but are very present in Dutch society and are quite unusual.
- She walks through the market and there is silence. No unknown voices screaming: “ONE EURO! PUMPKIN FOR ONE EURO!” Where is the verbal harassment typical from markets? People pushing each other to get the best pumpkin? Instead, there’s a civil dynamic between customer and vendor.
- But it’s ok. Who is she kidding? Eating healthy has never been one of her priorities. So she walks to the Albert Heijn and buys a bag of chips. Once out, she realizes it’s paprika flavour… PAPRIKA CHIPS!?
- So she starts wondering: what is she ever going to eat in this country? And she researches about Dutch gastronomy. Her choices are reduced to either potatoes in any shape or colour, or just whatever you can throw into a frying pan. “Well, it’s time to starve,” she thinks.
- She falls asleep in tears with an empty stomach. But, things turn for her. She is having the greatest nap. Beautiful, delightful and sublime dreams. Her phone rings. “You’re late to the party, ” her Dutch friend says. “Huh? There’s still 15 minutes for it to start” she answered confused. “Well, what I was saying: LATE!” and her friend hung up.
- But, she has got to adapt. And she goes. On her way she looks at the stores as she cycles: Coffee shop, sex shop, coffee shop, sex shop, coffee shop, sex shop, coffee shop, sex shop, coffee shop, sex shop, coffee shop, sex shop, coffee shop, sex shop…. In the end, she got to her friend’s house with three joints and a whip.
- But that is not the weirdest part of the night. As she walks in, the ceiling becomes an exhibition of flags, the lamps an exhibition of ties and the tables an exhibition of coke.
- The next day the weather is absolutely wonderful. The sun is shining, the birds are swimming and everyone is outside, absorbing sunlight as if they were photosynthesizing.
- So she decides to go to the park with some friends. To her surprise, the park is covered in a black cloud, emerging from a million barbecues. “Well that’s the tradition,” her Dutch friend says, “the day the sun comes out, we all make at least one barbecue.” Like a ritual, an offering to the gods, so that one day of sun per year could eventually become two.
- But to her surprise, good weather isn’t the only thing that Dutch people like to praise. It is now the 27th of April. King’s day. And she finds herself in a forest of tall Dutch all wearing orange. Back to medieval times where everyone is praising the not-so-all-mighty king.
- After taking some balloons a friend of hers collapses. His head is bleeding, and she takes him to the emergency room. It is quite crowded there. One patient keeps puking. Another has lost three fingers. One bleeds from his ear. The doctor finally enters, listens to everyone’s problems, sits at his desk and says after a long sigh: ‘Not to worry people, I’ve got the solution… There’s ibuprofen for you all!’ A situation that taught her a lesson: a Dutch doctor supplies the same medical help as ibuprofen.