When a person chooses to make the life-altering decision to move to a different country, perhaps one of the first things they will search for is a new home. When immigrating to Holland however and trying to find a home, unless you have the detective skill level of Sherlock Holmes or the Dutch fluency of King Willem himself, such a task can prove quite difficult for the average immigrant. While finding a home in The Netherlands may seem like a daunting task, I have compiled a short list to help you not only to find a home, but also to find one which is authentically Dutch and will make you feel like a real Dutchman.
DO: Pretend to be Dutch
DO NOT: Admit you are a foreigner
The Dutch for the most part are an extremely welcoming and friendly country… however, trying to get an invite for a hospiteeravond when you are not Dutch is like participating in a real life version of the Hunger Games. In this version of the games, the ruthless killers from the movie are replaced by the equally ruthless Sannes and Daans of the real Dutch world who are skilled and clinical in their search for the kamers across the country. My advice is to find a willing Dutch man or woman who will help you construct a standard Dutch email outlining your name, age, cleanliness, affinity for drinking tea (if you’re Irish like me) and “series te kijken”. You must then proceed to copy and paste this email into every available kamer within your budget and area until you receive a reply. The following is a REAL LIFE STATISTIC regarding reactions to kamers that I did not just make up…
80% – do not respond
15% – respond to say that you don’t meet their ridiculous house requirements and that you are not invited to their fantastic, amazing hospiteeravond that will be the best avond that has ever occurred in the whole WERELD since time in memorial.
5% – will reply and say that you have cordially been invited to a hospiteeravond… with all Dutch speaking nationals… sh*t.
DO: Mentally, physically and linguistically prepare for your hospiteeravond
DO NOT: Back out at the last minute and fail to show up
Congratulations, you have succeeded in receiving an invite to a hospiteeravond! Now the real training must begin and should you fail to reach the mark of expectation you should probably not even bother to show up because the Sannes and Daans have already won. Secret sources have confirmed that Dutch children have been undergoing a rigorous training schedule since birth to ensure that they will beat every non-Dutch international at hospiteeravonds across the country for generations to come. The following is the mental, physical and linguistic factors which must be included in your training while you prepare for your hospiteeravond:
1. Practice drinking a whole pot of groene thee as quickly as possible
2. Be able to go for a run without getting winded after 500 meters
3. Laugh and make small talk about series such as Onderweg naar morgen en GTST
4. Be able to pronounce Scheveningen and Koninginnedag flawlessly
In order to fit flawlessly into the Dutch conversation you must know some simple phrases and habits of Dutch speakers. Please see below for common words and phrases which you can randomly say at perhaps any moment of any conversation:
• Upon entering: “Hoi! Ik ben Shauna!”
• To express positivity: “Wat leuk!” or “Lekker!”
• To react to something which you believe is negative: “Nee” or “Jammer”
• To answer a question with yes: “Ja…”
• To answer a question with no: “Ja… nee”
• For all other eventualities just smile and nod and laugh.
DO: Accept the most authentically Dutch house
DO NOT: Settle on any old room
So you’ve made it through your hospiteeravond and wat leuk (see what I did there?) you have been offered a room. Before accepting your room you must first compare your room to a simple checklist so that future visitors will notice how authentically Dutch your house is and so that you will complete your second stage of integration into Dutch life. If your new home has 80%+ of the following checklist then you are free to accept your new room with open arms.
1. A ridiculously narrow and steep staircase that you most certainly will break you neck on when you miss a step after one too many biertjes.
2. A front room with a wide, clean window with beautiful curtains which are never closed to showcase your beautiful interior but an interior which no one from the outside should ever look into despite the curtains always being open…
3. A kitchen with a marvelous ovenmagnetron; a machine from some futuristic land that contains an oven, microwave and grill all in one.
4. A toilet with barely enough room to get into. Your knees should touch the door when it closes.
You have successfully made it through stage 2 of initiation. With your brand new kamer you are now a little bit more Dutch than you were when you arrived. But stay tuned however as your integration is not yet complete and you must now venture to your next stage… the supermarket.