The other day it hit me. It has been almost 10 years since I arrived in the Netherlands. Time really flies, but what struck me the most is that slowly, slowly I may have been adopting some so very Dutch traits. Maybe you have as well?
So how do you know you’ve been hanging out so long in the Low Countries? You’ve adopted these Dutch traits…
1You hit the beach on the first day that the thermometer registers 12ºC
Even if it is not spring yet. You become a true sun-worshipper, and if you are not dependent on the school holidays, you probably leave for the sun during cold, dark February, like a migratory bird.
2You start collecting coupons, studying catalogues and doing all kinds of tricks to save money
You realize you have become obsessed with getting the best deals, buying everything in discount or better yet, second hand. You may even collect, trade and send coupons to friends. It’s like a sport. I get a thrill of buying stuff (that we would normally buy anyway, like detergent, toothpaste or bread) at half of its price.
It reminds me of Lily Allen’s: ‘Nan you’re a window shopper’ (‘You only buy the paper to cut out the coupons, you’re saving 50p but what do you want with tampons?’). We’ve always tried to be frugal, but I am taking this to a whole new level, inheriting some true Dutch traits.
3You realize that HEMA is your second home
No really — there is nothing better than HEMA at 9 AM, often the only shop that is open in cold windy mornings. They offer a more or less complete breakfast for two euros (though it used to be even better)!
I always find it fun to see people of all walks of life getting in line to eat their first or second breakfast while trying to see the city from one of their big windows. There are the businessmen, the construction workers, the moms with their kids, the old Dutch, the new Dutch, the young, the old… Everybody gathers there. Oh, and how could I not mention their famous hot dogs and smoked sausages (rookworst).
I can hardly ever enter the shop without the five-year-old asking for a hot dog, but I can’t blame her, they are tasty. And I love how they are always on-trend whether you are looking for stickers, Easter decorations, accessories for your bike, envelopes, toiletries or a cheap and warm sweater. I realized I might be becoming Dutch this one time I came back from a trip back home and the first thing I did was meet a friend to catch up at the Hema over some traditional stamppot, with sausage, of course.
I must not be the only one loving this Dutch institution because there are already two volumes of a book gathering stories of Dutch citizens abroad called “Ik mis nog steeds de Hema ” (I still miss HEMA).
4You love your bike
It is your main way of transport and you use it to go everywhere: to carry all your things, as a means to stay fit and to relax all in one. Seriously, whenever I am stressed just breathing the air while I bike grounds me and makes me happy.
5You carry an agenda and it is full of appointments, a classic Dutch trait
These appointments go way into the future (like the next two months). You still like to arrange spontaneous meetings with friends, but have noticed that you need to check twice before making a date.
Did I miss anything? What Dutch traits have you adopted? Let us know in the comments!
Feature Image: Pexels/Pixabay
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in March 2019 and was fully updated in November 2020 for your reading pleasure.