Soon I will be moving to Great Britain for a half year, so I want to pass on my tips to those who face the challenge to assimilate to this awkwardly awesome Dutch culture.
Dutchies have a difficult language with an ‘I-will-spit-on-you’ kind of sound. Don’t feel miserable, even a Dutch cat will pronounce their ‘g’ better while dealing with a hairball than you. Dutchies easily master other languages and their verbal fluency is especially manifested in criticizing. Dutchies believe that criticism makes you ‘a better person’, at least, that is what their parents told them while breaking their ego or heart, or both. They were raised to be rational, humble (cheap), and aloof. For example, when I called a Dutch neighbor in panic, believing that I accidentally put a kitten in the washing machine, she calmly replied to let the machine finish, since the kitten must be dead anyway. As if the clothes would be perfectly clean with a dead cat on it. For Dutchies, being humble basically means pretending to be poor by surrounding yourself with old and cheap (a.k.a. vintage) stuff. Thanks to that national passion for free crap, I spent a year with a live size carton board of Frans Bauer – a Dutch folk singer – that my roomie got for free (gratis). Therefore, if you ever want to see Dutchies blushing, just ask them about their earnings.
Physical contact is another aspect that makes them nervous, but you might consider respecting that boundary given their physically-active-but-thrifty-with-water lifestyle. Unlike them, their dogs enjoy cuddling. Still, keep in mind - that dog’s fur has not been dry since July, so it is like rubbing on a washcloth (but it is totally worth it!). The best assimilation trick that works for you is that every Dutch person wants to present their culture as the most tolerant and decent in the world. This gives you the liberty of being the biggest prick and yet somebody will help you if you run into problems. If, however, you seriously cross the line refer to the north or south Dutchies (always opposite of your current location), or just blame the Belgians or Germans. That is how they do it themselves. For the final tip, enjoy and always ‘stay in touch with the Dutch’, as my goodbye card says.
Those Brits will have big clogs to fill.
Irena Boskovic, Ph.D. candidate, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience