Pros and Cons to living in the Low Lands

15 Apr

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The Netherlands are amazing, and the Dutch lifestyle is exactly how I’ve wanted my life to be. I was so excited to come here and take on this healthy, cyclist’s paradise, and now that I have experienced it (for two months, at least) I can honestly say, I could live here forever. But, as always, it may be too good to be true. There are always pros and cons to every situation like this, so here are my pros and cons to living in the Netherlands:

Pros: I love that there are so few cars. Sure, there are some, but as most people know, the Dutch are known for cycling…everywhere. Their towns are built much more compactly, so it is easy to get around on bike. I can get to the grocery store in less than five minutes on my bike, and I’m slow compared to these Dutch bikers. This means I can go to the store more often than I would in the States; therefore I can get more fresh vegetables without them going bad. Let’s face it, one person cannot eat all those vegetables by the time they go bad. In the States, I normally go grocery shopping once a week because of the distance and hassle it causes me, so I can only get enough fresh produce for two or three days before it goes bad. Here I can go every day if I want to. If I feel like having stir-fry for dinner, I can go straight to the store and get whatever I need. And I don’t have to freeze my chicken anymore! I can just buy it, and cook it that night. Easy peasy!

Another pro is the relaxed, friendly, and welcoming attitude the Dutch have. Everyone is so friendly; and is not just willing to help you with whatever you need, but they want to! And they don’t find it bothersome to speak English because they all speak it so well.

The best pro of all? The laid back lifestyle. The Dutch, on average, work thirty hours a week, while in the U.S., many work over 40 hours a week, sometimes more at home even. The U.S. is known for being overly stressed and focused too much on their careers and competition. One would assume that after all this stress over working, the U.S. would have extremely high productivity. But the Dutch win again! The Netherlands has one of the highest productivity ratings in the world (Discovering the Dutch, 2010). How do they get more work done, working less hours than us? It’s no wonder Forbes, along with many other sites/magazines/business reviews, has rated the Netherlands in the top 5 happiest countries in the world, for several years in a row. Because of this low workload, the Dutch have more time to enjoy leisure time riding their bikes, playing “football”, and drinking coffee at a cafe in the middle of the day.

And now that I’ve proven (with sources, even) that the Netherlands is a great place to live, let me bring it back to reality. Here are the major cons (in my opinion): The first is obviously the lack of food choices. There are many things that I love in the U.S. (that may not be good for me, but I still love them), like pancakes, the American kind (or Canadian, if you want to get technical). I’m sick of these little crepes. I want some big, fluffy flapjacks smothered in MAPLE syrup. They have syrup here, but I don’t know what the flavor is…it is not good. Or good chocolate chip cookies. You won’t find Chips Ahoy here (except I have some because my Mom loves me so much). And they don’t even know what S’mores are! It’s sad. I am teaching them our superb eating habits, don’t worry.

Another con, not necessarily my opinion, but many of the other American students here are bothered by the shop hours. Stores, all stores, including grocery, are closed after 6pm Mon-Sat and all day every Sunday. I could see why this would be bothersome after having such a luxury as Walmart, but I just try to do my shopping before Sunday. However, this was a problem for me when I was not aware that Easter Monday is also celebrated here, and all the stores were closed both Sunday and Monday. A little warning would have been helpful. But it all worked out in the end.

And finally, the worst con of all, voted by all exchange students here is  the weather. I never thought I could be so annoyed by weather. In fact, winter in Indiana is colder and snowier, so how could it be that bad? Well, at least when it snows in Indiana, there is sunlight. There is NO sunshine here. That’s not an exaggeration. I think since I’ve been here there has been three whole days that were sunny, and every other day there was either an hour of sun, then it went away, or no sun at all. The Dutch may have smaller work loads, but I don’t know how that keeps them so happy with this lack of sunlight. Not just that, but its like a wind tunnel here, every day, all day, constantly. The wind blows, on average, at 15-20 mph. Again, constantly. But let’s look on the bright side (no sunshine pun intended), it isn’t as cold as winter in Indiana, and not as hot as an Indiana summer. It is always spring. Except no sun…

Now that my rant is over, what do you think about the Netherlands? Is it as great as I think? Come visit and see for yourself! (maybe in the summer time, there’s slightly more sun then)

Thanks for reading!

 

P.S. look how much my mom loves me!

 

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