I’ve been calling Holland home for 3 years and a half. And before you come at me for calling The Netherlands Holland when that’s not exactly correct, let me tell you I know the difference between Noord Holland and Zuid Holland, but he Netherlands always sounded a tad bit too formal for my taste. So it’s actually a sign of affection that I call it Holland, a term I use more and more as I become Dutch.
Now that that’s out of the way, I’ve been observing subtle signs which indicate I’ve become Dutch over the years. And a lot of the changes are actually really good for me. Let me tell you how you too can become Dutch in 5 easy peasy steps.
1. Look out for your money
One of my favorite anecdotes comes from a true story. A bunch of us were going for a coffee outside the office during lunch time. Being open-minded people as we are, one of us invited an extra colleague to join us. Him being as Dutch as he is simply said “I come to work to make money, not to spend money.” Now, I think its simultaneously half funny and half impressive. To be so focused on moving forward and to simply choose to have a free coffee in the office kitchen instead of splurging on a 3 euro flat white got me thinking. All these little things add up quickly and it sure doesn’t hurt to make wiser choices with my money.
2. Keep things simple
I’ve always been an overachiever to the point where I’ll forget about anything else to get things done to the max. Dutchies have taught me that good life is in simple things. A snack on a park bench, a bike ride over the border with Belgium, a couple of beers on the backyard terrace. This sense of being present and getting together to do certain activities has being quite eye-opening.
The 3 weeks in advance planning for a coffee date? Not so much my thing, but I do have quite a bit of Latin blood going on, so I just brush it off when my friends want to book having a home dinner at their place 1 month and a half in advance.
3. Get fitter
So here I am, on a Sunday morning, getting out of bed at 9 am and out the door before 10 am, on a mission to get to my body pump gym class. As I mentally high-five myself for making it in time and nailing it in life, I realize there’s barely any space left in the big gym room. That’s because ALL the Dutchies are scoring at life or so it seems. I squeeze in between some blondies and get all the equipment together for the workout but I also see that this is not extraordinary, but just a normal Sunday morning for most of them.
4. Believe in yourself
I’ve been blown away by enthusiastic 20 year-olds countless times in Holland. It’s impressive how they’re brought up to believe they can do anything they put their mind to. Is it because kids
start working while they’re still in highschool? Is it the strong sense of independence? Or the fact there’s a well-oiled support system society offers young people? A mix of all of these aspects above and some more creates energetic, creative and ready to fulfill their potential youngsters.
And yes, I might have smiled ironically every time a student has told me their bachelor thesis will change the company’s business strategy. But I’m also in awe at their confidence, that’s for sure.
5. Aim for the stars
Dutchies hustle. Most of the Dutchies I know juggle school, internships, hobbies, sports, weekend shifts at the supermarket, tons of social obligations, work, travels and so on. It sounds fun and hard but it also set an example to keep moving forward. So find your rhythm and jump right on it. Or bike to it, whatever creams your biscuit.
There you go, did you become Dutch already? Got any other tips? Leave a comment!