Tuesday, August 21, 2012

10 Distinct Things About Dutch

When you think about Dutch, you think first about tulips, windmills and wooden shoes. Apart from those when you started to live in this tiny land, seven times the size of the Philippines, you see, you observe, you learn, you adapt to their distinctive culture.

So I write my top 10 list of the most things I noticed on my first year living here in Holland.

1. Dutch greet their friends and family with three kisses!
Very special! But not necessarily only with friends and family, in special moments for example birthdays, graduations, weddings or/and any other occassions you receive also three kisses as greetings from acquaintances, colleagues or someone else. Usually women kiss women, women kiss men, but not men to men, men generally only kiss women. Men usually greet themselves manly by a firm handshake. You generally kiss family and friends when they arrive and when they are about to leave.
 2. Weather is always a part of the conversation.
Just the same as the news over economy, other political issues and football. The weather is always included in the daily life of the Dutch. The weather here is very unpredictable. Being updated with the weather report is essential. So you are ready for any circumstances. Most women watch or listen to the weather news, so they know what to wear for next day.
I learned from my assimilation course that when you like to begin a conversation with Dutch, talking about the weather is a safe topic. It's a universal topic that everyone can talk about. Sometimes a simple..."Mooi weer, hé!" (Nice weather, huh!) turns up the beginning of a nice conversation.
3.  Visiting is per appointment.
Just like in the Philippines that you can come to your neighbor, family and friends any time you want, here in Holland is different. You make not only businesslike appointment but also social appointment.  Dutch are always busy, that is why most people have an agenda book. If you want to meet someone, you have to make an appointment. Of course some moments you can drop by, but not always. Sometimes it can also be an unwanted visit to others, so better just make an appointment.
4. Dutch are polite.
 I love Dutch for this character. It is normal in Holland to greet people, stranger or not, a simple; "Hoi!" (Hello!), "Hallo!" (also Hello!), "Goedemorgen!" (Good Morning!), "Goedemiddag!" (Good afternoon!), "Goedenavond!" (Good evening!) and "Dag!" (Bye!). They are polite and that makes you feel comfortable.
5. Dutch don't normal sing their National Anthem.
Dutch are less patriotic than other races or they show it in other way. Only few people know the complete lyrics of their national anthem, the "Wilhelmus". Students don't even sing it everyday at school. But they do certainly sing their national anthem whenever they achieved medals in sports like Europe Championship, World Cup, Olympics and others.
6. Many people in Holland have no religion anymore.
People living in Holland practice very good their right to choose their religion. Many have no religion anymore. Some choose to stay Catholic and Protestant or reformed from both religions. Some change to other religious sects and cults.
When I first came here, I thought, how is it possible? But sometimes I come to realize that religion makes the world cruel, so it is also better not to have one. After all the most important is that you believe in God.
And because many Dutch are not religious anymore, it's a pity that some churches have been closed and renovated for appartments or for commercial use.
7. Birthday calendar in the comfort room.
It was funny when I saw it for the first time. But it is really cool! Dutch used to hang a birthday calendar in their comfort room. It's a smart idea, because the toilet is the most visited place in the house. The more you visit the toilet, the more you can easily remember who is the celebrant of the day! There is no excuse to forget.
8. The "GRATIS" things and the saving system in the supermarket. 
Dutch love gratis! Gratis means free of charge/ free given/ freebies. But not only Dutch, I think most people love freebies. But of course not all "Gratis" are for free.
Dutch learned from their history. They know how hard to be empty-handed. So Dutch came out with a better solution to save money. They are the first to discover a near-at-hand saving system.
How it works?
Coupons vary per supermarket/stores. Some supermarkets offer coupon for free depending on a certain minimum amount of purchase. Some have terms like for every euro that you spend in shopping  you can buy each coupon for a couple of cents.You get a booklet or card where you can paste the coupons. Once it's full, you can hand it over to the supermarket where you have got it. You get the value of the booklet/card, half full or full. But when it's totally full , you get a premium. The profit you get by saving coupons is usually higher than interest in the bank.
It attracts consumers. You're not actually conscious that you are saving, only in the later time, when you have already a full card or booklet, the surprise effect gets higher.
9. Sunday is  a rest day.
According to Genesis, God created the world in 6 days and on the 7th day He rested and enjoyed looking at all He had made.
This is an old Catholic tradition that is still present in Holland. Sunday is a rest day. But the Liberal Party has made some amendments to the Business Hours Law. Some establishments could open their business on the first Sunday of the month.
Now the establishments are having a petition to let them do business not only on the first Sunday of the month but every week.
As for me, although that chance is realistic that it would be amended. I hope that it would not happen. I like that Sunday remains a rest day. Because it's still  a part of their old tradition. 
10.  Holland is a bicycle land.
When I first came here in Holland, I was astonished and just said, "Wow!". Because there are hundreds of bicycles everywhere. How come?
Because bicycle is a common transportation here in Holland. Rich or poor, professional or not, regardless of status, people of all ages use it. Dutch made bicycle lanes to make sure that bikers are safe. Parking lots for bicycles are also present. Some parking lots have charge and some are free. There are also many bike routes for tourists and they are all good organized. (Being organized is one of the best quality of the Dutch.). "Knooppunten" maps are also available. Surely riding a bicycle in Holland is handy, cheap and eco-friendly.

The first year of immigrating to another country is exciting and on the same time hard. We struggle to find a way to be accepted. You are actually standing between two poles, the culture you have been raised up and the new culture you have to be adapted. Culture differences collide most of the times on the first year. But in a slow process it gets better and you learn that "respect" is the most important ingredient in the society.

1 comment:

iene said...

goed getypeerd en ook heel leuk geschreven!
groetjes van
Evelyn (en ook van Edje ☺ )