Monday, April 8, 2013

10 Thoughts That May Cross The Mind of An Expat in the Netherlands

A few weeks ago I entered a writing contest with  I received so much support from family and friends through comments and social sharing of my entry I was blown away.  Didn't win the contest however; but that wasn't important, it was fun to participate and feel the love from everyone.  Thanks again to all.  Here's my entry in case you missed it.  Enjoy.

The Thoughts That May Cross An Expat’s Mind During Their First Month in the Netherlands

By: Dan Szostek
  1. You’ll discover that “Punta Nell” is not a tropical destination. It’s the ending to Dutch websites. punt nl = dot nl = .nl

    “Where is this ‘Punta Nell’ place? Somewhere near Punta Cana? And why is it constantly being mentioned on the radio and TV?” 
  2. You’ll wonder how Expats before you survived during the times of “BG” or “Before Google.”

    “Am I really typing these Dutch cooking directions for pasta into Google Translate?”
  3. You’ll have fries with mayonnaise, and really, really enjoy it.

    “Fries with mayonnaise! That’s what John Travolta was talking about in Pulp Fiction!”


  4. You’ll be starving at the train station and see everyone else snacking so you’ll buy a pastry filled with a meat substance from the Kiosk.

    “Did I just eat a pastry with some type of meat baked inside? I better get another one just to confirm.” 
  5. You’ll have one too many Trappist beers and think horsemeat on fries sounds like a good idea.

    “ I just ordered horsemeat on my fries because a guy in the snack bar said ‘iz good.’ Am I going to regret this? Eh, I’ll just put some mayonnaise on it.”
  6. You’ll drink milk for lunch.

    “Milk, it’s not just for breakfast anymore I guess.”

    It does a body good
    It does a body good

  7. You’ll get bumped, pushed, and practically stiffed armed when you go grocery shopping, and that’s just in the vegetable aisle.

    “Looks like I’m going to need to throw some elbows to get a bag of carrots.”
  8. You’ll panic and stare blankly at the cheese counter at your local supermarket.

    “Um, how many types of Gouda are there?”
  9. You’ll be offered a cup of coffee EVERYWHERE! At work, at the supermarket, at the barber…

    You [Waiting to get your hair cut]: “You know a cup of coffee really does sound good right now.” 
  10. You’ll see people pulling sandwiches out of their pockets EVERYWHERE. On the train, on the street, at their desks at work.

    “Hold up, did that guy just pull a sandwich out of his pocket? Wait, that lady did it too. And that guy’s sandwich has sprinkles on it!”
    [Moments later, in a sad voice to yourself]
    “I wish I had a pocket sandwich.”

    For your ice cream sundae or your pocket sandwich
    For your ice cream sundae or your pocket sandwich

  11. You’ll panic because you’re at a train station with no ticket window and you don’t have the €18 euro in exact change needed for your train journey

    “€18.90 in EXACT change to get from Den Hague to Oss????”
  12. You’ll get a bike but be too nervous to make a left so your journeys consist of all right hand turns.

    “Wow, cars are yielding to me I feel so powerful! WAIT, how do I make a left hand turn?”
  13. You’ll get adjusted to washing your hands with only cold water.

    “I’ll just keep my hands here until the water warms up. Um, it’s not warming up.” 
  14. You’ll think your developing calves of steel from walking up your steps.

    “My calves are going to be like tree trunks after climbing these stairs everyday.”

    Our Stairmaster
    Our Stairmaster

  15. You’ll manage homesickness somewhat effectively until someone asks you how you are managing homesickness.

    “You know, I was coping with homesickness pretty well until you asked me what I missed most from home. Thanks!” 
  16. You’ll develop an amazing broken English accent even though English is your native language.

    “Oh jeez, am I really communicating like this, I must sound ridiculous.”
  17. You’ll be doing your best to stick out from the crowd and not dress like a local by wearing your baggiest jeans, sneakers and worn out Philadelphia Phillies baseball hat and still get asked for directions from on the street.

    Random Car Driver Stopped in Traffic: [Shouts something in Dutch]
    You: [Realizing they are talking to you in Dutch, responds in confusing tone]: Sorry, I’m new here.
    You: [Says to self]: Did I just say that?

  18. This One’s For Guys: You’ll use an outdoor public urinal that comes out of the ground like the one pictured.

    “Where’s the cold water to wash my hands? Guess I’ll just use some snow.”

    An outdoor urinal on a crisp winter’s day
    An outdoor urinal on a crisp winter’s day

  19. You’ll feel like a rock star when the simplest things work, like you debit card or your ov-chipkaart (train pass).

    “Wait, my card actually worked? I’M KING OF THE WORLD!”
  20. You’ll experience all this crazy, funny, and amazing cultural differences and think that you should be recording all your adventures.

    “You know, I should really start a blog about all this stuff.”

Dan is originally from outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA and now living in the southern portion of the Netherlands with his wife. He enjoys traveling, European grocery stores, and getting himself into confusing situations while wearing his Phillies hat.

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