Reflections on my first year in The Netherlands.

Last week marked the first anniversary of my move to Holland with the good wife. I’d like to say that the year has gone fast, and it has, but it has also been a fair slog. Relocating internationally to a new culture, even one as similar to my own as The Netherlands, takes it out of you. In the first year I have found full time gainful employment and we have purchased out first house which we are in the process of renovating. In fact, I am sitting down to write this after taking a short break from pounding mortar off an internal chimney, (for the study, you see).

I think for a first year that this is an extremely good result, and it is what I had planned towards. The other excellent result of our first year is that we have more money saved than when we left Australia. So after paying for relocation costs halfway around the world and the costs of purchasing a new house the end result is that we have more savings in the bank than when we started.

Looking back there are a few things that I would have done differently. I think the biggest would be to have moved my butt faster on the job front. I didn’t really get serious about it until the new year due to the promise of a job that never eventuated. Once I began looking I was working within a few weeks. In other words, I lost about 4 months of potential work time that I would have preferred to have taken advantage of in the circumstances.

I’d like to tell myself that I should have made a bigger earlier effort on the language but I don’t think that that is the case. The Dutch language is a bitch to get your head around and I think that the first year has not been wasted. I now have a good ear for the language and my pronunciation is improving greatly. This sort of stuff takes time, and the incremental gains that you make seem negligible at first but add up over time. Like a year. I’m not close to being fluent yet in the language but I think another year should see me well on the way.

Holland is a beautiful country. Every day on my drive to work I am calmed by the serenity of the early morning landscape. The natives make the claim that there is no nature in Holland but for me there is more nature here than in Australia. The skies teem with birds, great flocks of which move across the landscape, their numbers casting impressive shadows. I see large carp and eels in the river beside my house, and it is not unusual for me to have to slow my car for a wayward hare on its morning outing.

The Dutch are polite, curious, confident of their culture, calm, welcoming, and civilized. The women are beautiful and everyone makes an effort to dress well. Young people defer to those older than themselves and there is a marked absence of hooliganism. The streets are not marred by the sounds of souped-up vehicles blasting out atrocious music. I am largely free to do what I want as long as I do not impose on anyone else. There are exceptions to this; gun ownership being a prime example, but overall it is very accommodating.

The Dutch have good reason to be proud of their culture and their homeland. It is a privilege to live here and for that I am thankful.

 

7 thoughts on “Reflections on my first year in The Netherlands.

  1. Paul Scott

    Excellent Adam. You were truly disappointed in Australia, Melbourne and with good cause.
    To achieve what you have in one year is bloody good going.
    I would venture to guess you will make a promise to yourself that this is the last house you want to renovate at the level of p0unding down walls.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JohnR

    Good to have an update from you on your Great Adventure.
    I was amazed it had been a year though.
    Keep up the good work online, even if it is hard finding the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ohsleeper

    Any good advice on trying to learn Dutch? Starting out now and since it’s a bit of a minority language there aren’t a ton of resources out there.

    Like

    1. I’m using the “Dutch for Dummies” grammar book for reference material, but most of my progress is through absorption of the language around me every day.

      Like

      1. TechieDude

        You really have to immerse yourself in a language. I took three years of Spanish in high school, and can read it reasonably well, but didn’t get good at speaking or listening until I started dealing with Mexican dudes.

        First thing you learn are the words and phrases they use to talk shit about you.

        Like

  4. Pingback: Late Night With In The Mailbox: 07.02.18 : The Other McCain

  5. I have followed your descriptions of Dutch society, and your contrasts with Italy and Australia. I have only a holiday in Amsterdam centrum to draw on.

    It has been really interesting, occasionally comical; your comments on the importance of extended family and Christian customs have stood out. And that cracking podcast about the roads in cold weather and in Italy, if I remember correctly.

    Your challenge to the notion that Europe has fallen is refreshing.

    God Bless you and the “good wife”. It will be interesting to see how things unfold.

    Like

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