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4 Strange Things About The Netherlands That I Have Yet To Grasp

You might want to keep these in mind before visiting the country

By Chau TrieuPublished 2 years ago 3 min read
4 Strange Things About The Netherlands That I Have Yet To Grasp
Photo by Azhar J on Unsplash

Three years living in The Netherlands taught me to get used to the Dutch directness, not buying an umbrella because that's throwing your money out the window, and having to buy a kid's bike since the Dutch are ridiculously tall.

But some mysteries still haunt me.

Not owning a curtain

My Dutch neighbor once said: "You'll go bankrupt if you try to open a curtain store in The Netherlands."

It is weird how people in this country do not shy away from exhibiting their private space. It doesn't mean you can stare into someone's place for as long as you like, but surely you'll be able to see both the house's exterior and interior walking down a street.

A common explanation is that due to their Calvinistic roots, the Dutch believe allowing strangers a full view of their room shows that they have nothing to hide.

But I find this a bit hard to believe. Since the Dutch don't really mind other people's opinions, why would they care if strangers think they have something to hide?

At least that was the mindset I carried when I bought a $300 curtain for my huge living room window.

Steep stairs

When I first moved to The Netherlands, I carried with me two 23kg suitcases.

It was already a challenge to wheel them from the train station to my place. The steep stairs, or what many people refer to as the death trap (no seriously, trap in Dutch means stairs), did not make it easier.

Photo by Cybil Ransom on Flickr

They were like treacherous steep ladders with teeny-tiny stairs that do not allow a full footstep. I'm telling you, stepping up and down these traps is like performing. You have to swivel and sway and maneuver in awkward positions.

Now imagine carrying two big pieces of luggage up the staircase.

That's a cultural lesson right on your first day.

Tiny sinks in the toilet with ice-cold water

Photo by StitchedInColor

I have just one question: Why?

What could possibly be the purpose of a tiny sink with a lonely tap that can only provide glaciers?

"For you to wash your hands, obviously. It's not that big a deal!" you might think.

But my friends, it is a big deal because the temperature in The Netherlands is usually low.

2020 was recorded as the hottest year in The Netherlands and even then, the temperature ranged from 26 to 31 degrees Celsius, which was bearable for someone coming from a tropical country like me.

What was unbearable was the ice-cold water on 15°C mornings.

On the flip side, I never had to spend money on coffee.

Trying to blow themselves up before the New Year

Some people see it as an act of celebration. For me, it's like living in a war zone.

From December 28 to January 1, you'll hear groups of people going around setting off fireworks, laughing and screaming. Once a group leaves, another one comes along. The firecracker show is endless.

Good luck with trying to get some sleep!

This was strange to me because, in Vietnam, citizens aren't allowed to buy fireworks for individual use. What's even more strange was how unbothered people were with this. Or even if they were annoyed, they would brush it off because it's tradition.

Except for my first year, I always booked a flight somewhere else and celebrate New Year there. I'd like to welcome the new year with no chaos and deafness, thank you.

The Netherlands certainly has some unique quirks that contribute to its character. If you ask me, these strange things about the country make me miss it more.

And to be completely honest, I do hope the next time you visit The Netherlands, you'll get to experience these weird things too. It'll make your trip much more memorable.


About the Creator

Chau Trieu

Trying to create daily...

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