Ik Spreek Geen Nederlands

Things I’ve Noticed/Culture Shock:

-Everyone wears scarves. EVERYONE. Men, women, children, all of them wear scarves. Mostly big thick infinity scarves. Which makes sense, with it being cold and windy you kinda need to, especially when cycling.

-People are very helpful, I have not yet asked a Dutch for directions or asked them a question that they were not very helpful and nice in response.

-This is a city with a heck of a night life. When my night ends, everyone is just beginning. Bars and pubs don’t begin to fill up until 1, by then I am tapped out. People stay out until the wee hours of the morning like it’s nothing.

-Condoms. We were given condoms in our welcome bag. This would NEVER happen where I’m from, seeing as how public schools are prohibited from teaching about sex. Abstinence rather is the education of choice, prevention is out of the question. I highly disagree with that method of education chosen by my home state, but it is what I have become accustomed to. So getting a condom in my welcome bag was quite a shock for me.

-So very liberal, which I knew, but it’s definitely a shock coming from my conservative state. Culture shock in a good way, people are very open minded and don’t pay mind to how others are living their lives. Refreshing change.

-A lot of times you can’t exit a store the same way that you enter. There are gates you have to pass through when you enter a store, and you can’t go back out of them. So a lot of times you have to go through the check out to exit a store.

-No plastic grocery bags. If you want one, you pay for it. Otherwise you come prepared with your own reusable bag. Also, you bag all of your own stuff. Luckily ESN gave us one, I bought an extra one, and I bring my backpack as well.

-Stores don’t open until 1 on Mondays.

-Cars don’t attempt to give cyclists space. I mean why would they, when there are so many of them. But it is very different from where I’m from, where hardly anyone cycles, they will practically go to the clear other side of the road to ensure a cyclist has space. Also, buses drive right behind herds of cyclists, practically riding their rear ends.

-Ambulances are yellow.

-I didn’t notice this, rather was informed of it. The provinces of North and South Holland associate themselves differently than those in Groningen. When asked what country they live in, the typical response from a Groningen native would be The Netherlands. When asked the same question by natives of the aforementioned provinces, they would say Holland. And apparently, the cities Amsterdam and Rotterdam are not pals.


Obvious Out-of-Towner Moments:

– When I tried to order off of the kids menu. Needless to say I got laughed at.

-Cycling my bike on the wrong side of the road.

-Going to a card only checkout lane when I only had cash.

-Referring back to the enter/exit system in stores – The time I didn’t know how to get out of a store when I didn’t buy anything.

-Getting lost. More times than I’d even like to admit to.

-Cheese. I can’t figure out the cheese for the life of me. The first time I bought cheese, I got what I thought looked the closest to cheddar. Turns out, it was parmesan. (I know, I know, they look nothing alike. But the packaging was deceiving I swear.)

-Buying non-alcoholic beverages when I was intending to buy them with alcohol.


“Half the fun of travel is the aesthetic of lostness.” -Ray Bradbury

4 thoughts on “Ik Spreek Geen Nederlands

  1. Wow, where are you from? My children started health (sex) education in year 5 (primary school)! The Netherlands have one of the lowest rates of teenage and unwanted pregnancies in the world, guess that liberalism is a good thing 😉

  2. Did you get to see the Groningen Red Light District? Its nothing like Amsterdam – the whole touristy element is abscent, so its even more “another day in the office” kind of feel.

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