When you arrived in the Netherlands everything seemed amazing. New people, new experiences and a new country with so much to offer, like stroopwafels and stunning canals. After a few months though, the rose-tinted glasses come off and you begin to reconsider whether you can handle Dutch life.
1 The weather
Maybe you’re from sunnier climates. You have just one rarely used coat or even none at all. Life in the Netherlands is a shock to your system as you struggle to understand how people can possibly live in such a cold, wet and constantly changing climate, which is gradually getting colder and colder. You need to take hot water with you to defrost your bike lock, or improvise with a cup of tea or coffee if there is no kettle available. Nevertheless, also the Dutch are worried about global warming.
2 People judging you for making a cycling mistake
You mistakenly think you are a cycling pro, a few months’ practice in the Netherlands should be enough, shouldn’t it? No! One cutting remark or judgemental face expression is all it takes to remind you that in reality you barely know anything about cycling and you’ll never find it as easy as the Dutchies, who have been doing it their whole lives. They can ride their bikes blindfolded, you are the one to respect that explicitly.
3 Pretending to understand Dutch
Sometimes a friendly Dutch man or woman says something to you that you know is a light-hearted or funny joke, but you have no idea what. You possibly show a widely accepted human response: you laugh along or you smile and hope you’ll get away with it. But you will not, the Dutch are more than eager to show that they speak modern language. Don’t ever think you’re impolite for asking to repeat themselves in English. They love it.
4 Pretending to speak Dutch
In order to avoid the feelings of guilt when constantly asking someone to repeat something in English (which you should nót, see 3), you succeed in mastering a few simple Dutch phrases. That’s asking for trouble. People will still struggle to understand you as you mispronounce words and forget to factor in your strong, non-Dutch accent. Sometimes you just have to admit defeat. But don’t bother: the Dutch are very eager to show their English skills and their friendly helpfulness.
5 Life or death stairs
It’s amazing how you never realised the difference between stairs in different countries. In reality it’s probably something you never thought about before your exchange in the Netherlands. But when you go home you will quickly realise how much legroom you have and the stairs almost feel wrong for not being steep. I mean, where is the challenge of perfecting your balance? It almost seems like it takes longer to climb the stairs at home. Stairs at home simply don’t offer the risky life-or-death moment that they do in the Netherlands.
6 A spectacular bike crash
If there’s one thing the Netherlands has taught you, it’s how to handle a bike accident with style. Of course you know that it is possible to literally just fly off your bike at any moment, particularly in very icy weather or snow. (The recent icy weather proved this point). It is probably best to just join in with the people laughing at you and dust yourself off. Unless you are injured, then maybe a trip to UMCG or Martini (the Groningen hospitals) might be better.