Netherlands

From riding bikes to using public transport, I love the culture of The Netherlands. I find that it has a unique sophistication that’s hard to match. Find yourself a lovely cafe, order a beer and watch the world go by, it makes for a wonderful place to people watch. Parents riding bikes with two and sometimes three kids perched on various parts of the bike still makes me smile after 18 years of living here.

The people are very friendly and sometimes a little more than honest which quite amazed at first.  I soon found out that the Netherlands’ reputation as a nation of straight-talkers can be a rude shock when you first arrive. However, as you learn to decode mild insults into constructive criticism you often realise that it ain’t all bad.

The Dutch consider directness and (brutal) honesty to be good qualities. Such modes of expression are intended to be an open form of communication, not an attack on your personal character.

Saying things straight up can save a lot of time and emotional angst too. If you don’t want to visit a friend because it’s pouring with rain, just say so! Lying through your teeth with a feeble excuse will not win you any favours, and can come across as false or insincere.

 

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  1. In the Netherlands things work… most of the time. NS trains, though sometimes late, are frequent and modern, and many other forms of Dutch infrastructure are reliable like the buses. Rubbish is collected regularly, streets are cleaned and emergency surgery is covered by health insurance.
    Effective administration comes at a price, and taxes and insurance fees are not cheap, but they provide a blanket safety net and peace of mind that can spare you from bureaucratic stress that can be common in other countries.

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