I started writing this post, and it got rather unwieldy. So, part 1 in an unexpectedly ongoing series of random differences and surprises that arise when a not-very-representative Australian (me) encounters probably-not-representative aspects of the Netherlands, and becomes, generally, amused and musing:

  • Sugar is not in the baking section. After four shopping trips, I finally asked someone. In the coffee and tea section. Of course.
  • In the course of discovering the above, I found that the Dutch for flour is ‘bakmeel’ which just makes me grin.
  • Sliced coconut in syrup is a thing. And it isn’t spectacular as a replacement for coconut milk!
  • Over here, beer comes in aisles in a supermarket. This is very exciting.
  • Over here, squishy French cheese can be $1 for a round. I think I’ll just keep eating this one, so I don’t get spoiled and snooty and pay regular amounts for much better versions!
  • No one has yet been able to adequately explain where the name ‘Dutch’ came from. The country is called (The Kingdom of) the Netherlands (I really can’t believe I live in a Kingdom. Too hilarious for words, so long as I don’t think about it too much). The Dutch call their own language something like ‘Nederlandse’ (hey, I’m not taking classes yet!). The Netherlands includes, but is not reducible to ‘Holland’. It was also once called Deutschland (sp?). But apparently the Germans (come to think of it, where’d ‘Germany’ come from anyway??) now have dibs on that. Anyway, I gather the English name ‘Dutch’ is the result of some random nation-border-shifting anachronism. Maybe.
  • To my relief, ‘hallo’ and ‘sorry’ are pretty much the same over here. SORTED. ;-P
  • Snow is pretty. Also it makes: ice-skating on the park lakes, ice hockey on said lakes, and tobogganing down hills. Not just for kids, neither (well, maybe for some slightly more grown up kids, I should say!). Ice makes me walk like I’m wearing high heels and am hobbled. Sigh. I recently got my stride back, though! ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Bureaucracy, man! Or probably this is just the happy-happy-joy-joy process of me encountering full-on immigration-y processes for the first time. I couldn’t: get electricity, get the internet, get paid, get water, get a residence permit, without registering at the local City Hall. Guess what’s taking forever? [sigh]
  • Apparently the Dutch like to make plans way ahead of time. Like a month. My next social engagement, so far, is mid-February. I shall accustom myself to hermitage til then!
  • People are amused when you apologise for not speaking Dutch.
  • Playing pretend etymology/cognates with Dutch is very fun: I live near the Noorderplantsoen (the Northern Plant Zone, I call it in my head – which it basically is!); see above re: bakmeel; straatlichting is street lighting (with that thing of squishing words together into one that I only know from my random bits of German thanks to Heidegger in undergrad! ;-)); Kruisstraat is ‘cross street’ because it crosses the middle of the park (that’s my theory, anyway!); centrifugen is the spin cycle on the washing machine (though the rest are a bit of a mystery!); ‘skipperhuis’ is a captain’s house (I’m living in one of these old fashioned buildings); ‘dankjewel’ in my head becomes ‘Thank you well’. I’m not sure I want to play this game with ‘Mindervaliden’, though… I am interested, though, about how disability gets differently categorised in different contexts.
  • No one seems overly bothered about recycling. They do collect paper once a month, but there’s no sorting of glass or cans or plastic bottles, despite the little ‘recycle’ symbols on the bottom. Someone told me, slightly unconvinced, that they sort it all at the rubbish dump. Sounds… not very fun!