After my long hiatus from DutchReview, I decided I want to listen to critiques on my previous texts. Two main complaints stood out – My texts seem to feature Serbia a lot (not surprising) and that I seem to maintain a pre-dominantly negative view on The Netherlands.
My aim was then to write good things about the Netherlands. At first I wanted to write a typical “Things I love about Holland” text, but it turns out my lovely Dutch Review colleagues already wrote that (and probably better than I ever could!), along with some really useful tips on moving to the Netherlands.
So I decided to remedy this in a rather unconventional way – by comparing the two lifestyles, especially from the pro-Dutch perspective. Living in each country has its perks and faults, but I wanted to highlight how lucky you inhabitants of Holland really are, without knowing it. I will also feature a little Serbia counter – every time I mention Serbia, I’ll mark it and make a Serbia tally at the end of the text!
Without further ado: TOP WAYS THE DUTCH GOT IT GOOD
Hey, did you know you could smell air? Neither did I! Imagine my shock when I first traveled back to Serbia (ping!), after my first couple of months in The Hague. I almost immediately began to cough, wondered if I had a cold and then, to my horror, realized I could literally smell the pollution in the air. Turns out I’ve been living in a smog infested hellhole (Serbia – ping!) most of my life.
Coincidently, it turns out that The Hague is one of the greenest, freshest cities in Europe. Now that I’ve moved near Clingendael forest, I’ve felt like a wood elf most of the time, and my lungs still scream in protest whenever I leave. Appreciate your clean air, Dutchies – you’re lucky the only smell your city has is the occasional eau du compost.
2. SMOKING OR LACK THEREOF
You’ve forgotten how it is to live in a perpetual cloud of cancer-smell, haven’t you? Let me remind you – In Serbia (ping!), it’s still legal to smoke in most clubs, bars and cafes. Sure, certain ones have a designated smoking and non-smoking section – whoopee! I’m pretty sure the smoke does not discriminate, or care about signs. “Puting a non smoking section in a bar is like putting a no peeing section in a pool” (Frank Kool TM).
What this translates to is very simple – every time you go out, and I mean EVERY TIME, including a small coffee in the neighborhood, you’re going to come back smelling like you’ve humped an ashtray. Your clothes, hair, underwear, eyeballs – this acrid smell permeates through it all. Long hair? Good luck. Prepare to destroy both your hair and clothes with regular washing. Let’s not even get into the health risks of second hand smoke – you just have to weigh your love of clubbing with your love of cancer I guess!
The moral of your story – You are not only living healthier in Holland, but also smell better.
This might seem like a strange point, but hear me out. I love cheese – always have, always will. I’m not only lactose tolerant, I’m lactose crazy.
Most of my life I’ve had a vague idea of the cheese quality in Serbia – young, so called “white cheese” (not racist!) similar to cottage cheese, was always very, very good. Other kinds of cheese? They were OK, but they were all I knew so – they were awesome. Serbia (ping!) even has two different words for these cheeses: in Serbia (ping!) when you say sir, you mean white cheese…if you want the other kind, you say kačkavalj (good luck pronouncing that as you read, in your head).
Then I went to live in the Netherlands and experienced a kind of cheese epiphany, an orgasmic revelation – by the gods, Dutch cheese was AMAZING. To this day I am amazed as to how I am not twice my weight, just because of the cheese.
So what’s the message here? Let’s just say going back to Serbia was, as far as cheese goes, a despair inducing experience. Imagine all the cheese you consume today is suddenly really, really bad. Not bad as in rotten, just plain bad. Even the most low-grade, Euroshopper cheese bought in Albert Heijn by a broke Rotterdamer student is STILL better than most cheese in Serbia (ping!).
Surely you can buy some expensive import cheese in Serbia (ping!)? Sure you can! Except: a) you will pay…a lot and b) its level of quality will be similar to one of those JUMBO LARGE discount deals ie. pretty shitty.
I hope you’re not lactose-intolerant, jongens – you don’t know how good you got it.
TRAINS & PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Right of the bat, let’s get some things cleared up – The OV chipkaart system is pretty stupid, and Dutch transport is ridiculously overpriced. However….
There is something about all your transport almost always being on time – sure, not JAPAN punctual, but you catch my drift. In Holland you can check the exact time of arrival at every station. The system is neat, easy to access and mostly punctual. In Serbia (ping!) we only recently got the ability to see exactly when the bus, for example, is arriving – and even that is not really a time, instead its an SMS text messaging system that only gives you the number of stops that your bus is away from yours…but not the distance.
But this is not the main issue. One of the first things I noticed in Holland is how magnificently CLEAN your buses, trams and trains are. Yes, clean. What was that? Oh you had to ride next to a bum on your daily train trip to Delft? How sad for you….Try riding in a urine scented, jail-filthy train wagon to Novi Sad, with no lights and in sub-zero temperatures… I’d rather kiss that bum of yours than go through that again (pun intended). Same goes for most busses in Serbia – they range from “decent” to “Fallout Post-Apocalypse transportation”.
Next time you complain about the price of the buses or how stupid the OV system is (ok it’s pretty stupid, I know) – remember that it sure as hell beats waiting on a shitty, rundown bus to come at some randomly disclosed time, huge crowds and possible risk of the plague included.
This list could probably expand, these are not the only ways the Dutch got it good. They could have a more varied selection of food (Thai!) and their attitudes towards jogging are much less provincial (no one looks at you like you’ve just robbed bank when you jog!) and the support you give your students is unprecedented (studiefienanciering!). But this might be elaborated on in some future text… So whenever you feel down because of the rainy weather, remember – you got it pretty good, and it can always be worse. Enjoy your cheese!
Serbia counter: 8