Sep 17, 2014

Signs I've Lived in Amsterdam For a While

I was putting away a bag of basterd suiker (brown sugar) recently, and it occurred to me that I've lived here long enough to have certain things become entirely normal. Like being surrounded by a different language, and having grown men pick their nose while making eye contact with you. I said normal, not appealing.

The last time I checked in with a "here's how I'm adjusting" post was when we had been here just three months. Today is our 3 year + two month anniversary, and a good excuse to revisit that topic. So let's start:

Things I'm entirely used to now:

  1. Dipping fries in mayonnaise. Before, I barely considered mayo edible-- only in the thinnest of layers on a sandwich. Now, I don't see mayo, I just see fry sauce. 
  2. Smaller living space. I saw a picture of a some homes in the US on Facebook, and they looked gigantic. Like really for giants. I could not stop staring. 
  3. Not driving. I haven't driven a car since I moved here, and I don't even miss it.  
  4. Giving my bank account number to people. Everything is done electronically, and is well protected. Another thing I haven't done in over three years: written a check. They're not still a thing are they? 
  5. When my mail is delivered by a man wearing a mesh tank top and tiny black leather shorts. 
  6. New vocabulary. Hanging out with Brits and Irish folks have led to adopting words and phrases such as perfectly lovely, nearly, loads, quite, bits, and lie-in. While renewing our passports in the US consulate, Sam asked where the rubbish bin was, and I nervously laughed and assured the consulate guy, "ha ha, he's just being silly-- we say trash can like real Americans, trust me. Approve our passports please?"
  7. Distance is always measured in cycling times.  
  8. Drinking sparkling water, all the time. And it's one of the few things we can buy in bulk from the grocery store. I beginning to think a lot of Europeans brush their teeth and do their dishes with it. 
  9. No tipping, no shame. 
  10. Toilet stalls. Europeans understand the concept of privacy in public restrooms. Stalls are usually entirely enclosed, floor to ceiling. Note to America: you are losing.
  11. Not ever using 1 or 2 cent coins. This is very much a Dutch thing. When you are paying with cash for an item that is 4.98, and pay with a 5 euro bill, you will not get any change back. Similarly, if the total is 4.02, you can just pay 4 euro and it's good. I don't know why the Dutch just can't be bothered with the small change, but I'm so used to it, I get irritated when we travel outside The Netherlands and I get 3 cents in change. 
  12. Annual pelvic exams only once every five years, after the age of 30. That's right, ladies. Actually, the overall medical culture here is much less invasive, which can be refreshing or irritating, depending on the situation.  

Things I'm still adjusting to:

  1. My doctor (and most other people) typing with two fingers. How do they even?
  2. When the doctor doesn't leave the room when you get undressed. Yes, awkward. 
  3. Remembering that if we stay late at a friend's house, we have to bike home with three kids and everyone can see we're irresponsible parents. 
  4. People dropping f-bombs around my kids, because it doesn't have the same swear weight here. But don't tell someone you hope their mother gets cancer. You'll need to cover the kid's ears for that. 
  5. The mess of keys to keep track of:
    That would be keys for the front door, dead bolt, storage unit,
    and 2 keys each for 5 bikes. 

Things I will never get used to: 

  1. Drinks at room temperature, tiny bottles, no free-refills. It's just wrong. 
  2. Lagging laundry technology. How has Europe not figured out that it is possible to have washing machines that are energy and water efficient, can handle more than five items at a time, and only take 40 minutes? Europe: get it together!
  3. The Dutch "line." In the tradition of making offensive generalizations, it is physically impossibly for the Dutch to queue. Much like it is impossible for the American in me to stop caring about it. Neither can live while the other survives. Pretty sure J. K. Rowling was in The Netherlands while she wrote that line. 

The thing I am totally used to and will also never be used to: 

    It's both totally amazing, and completely mundane. Much like living in a foreign country. 

3 years and 2 months: happy anniversary.
Oh yeah, they have a thing for whipped cream here. 


Courtney @ Ordinary Happily Ever After said...

I'm tempted by the no tipping, but we would be banned because of the amount of laundry our family produces :)

Susan Marlene said...

These are beautiful & funny photos and the new location-- congratulations! What a fun blog!

claireb said...

Yes about the check thing in America. I was shocked they still had it.

And bathroom stalls! I complain about that all the time here and all I get are laughs in response. What's up with that?