I can't believe I have lived here for half a year! It feels like just yesterday and years ago, that I was waiting with Atticus at Hartsfield International to board our flight to take us to our new home. I'm still having the time of my life, but being an expat is not all dinner parties with diplomats and trips around the continent. It is real life, just on the other side of the world. With that in mind, here is my list of 11 things I still love about The Netherlands after living here 6 months. This list is going to be different than my things I love after 3 months, although all those things still apply. In no particular order:
1. The lack of dubbing: The Netherlands, unlike most countries, does not dub films and shows into its native tongue (unless the show is designed for little children) This is amazing, it means that I can go to a movie here and hear Woody Harrelson's voice when he's playing Haymitch. (Hunger Games again, I know!) It also means that I can watch American and English shows and read the subtitles to try and pick up basic words and sentence structure of Nederlands.
2. Inburgering, yes I know, I said no more posts about this for awhile! But, I think it is really cool that the government will pay for me to learn the language of the country I now live in.
3. The Bibliotheek: With branches spread throughout the Gemeente, thousands of DVD's to borrow, hundreds of English books, and tens of thousands of Dutch titles, all for 40 euros a year. What's not to love? I am at one branch or another at least once a week. More about this in another post.
The Central Branch
4. Speculoos Spread: Cookie spread that I am obsessed with and it is all Lily's fault! Seriously though, this stuff is ground up cookies combined with oil and made into a spread roughly the consistency of peanut butter. It's magical!
5. The Cheese Mongers: In a country known for its cheese, Gouda is actually a city here, you don't have to look far to find people who's whole shops or stands are devoted to cheese! These are also the places I can find cheddar the easiest. In Utrecht, we have a Farmer's Market every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, there are normally at least 5 different cheese stalls set up.
6. The fish stalls: Available at the pre-mentioned markets and spread through out the cities here, these are stands were you can buy both cooked and uncooked fresh fish. Where the Dutch can get their haring! I prefer kibbling. Tiny pieces of deep fried fish, it is sooo amazingly good!
The markets are even active in the snow
7. The cheap booze: Go on call me a lush, but the booze prices here are incredible. You can get beer for under a Euro in a grocery store, a six pack for under five. Perfectly good wine for 2.50. And it is cheaper to order a beer in a restaurant than a coke!
8. Ontbijtspek, dutch bacon: For those of you who know me well, know that I don't like most products that come from a pig. I accidentally tasted bacon a few years ago and became hooked! The dutch version is much saltier than it's american cousin. For a person who prefers boiled peanuts to cake, this is heavenly.
9. Free Education: Tuition here is on average around 1770 Euros per year. In the US, it is more than that each semester. Add that to student grants and travel cards that you can get here if you are under 30 and that you can pay most schools in installments and the Dutch can go for basically nothing. Of course, you do have to pay living expenses, so you might have to get a loan. But trust me, it is nothing compared to the amount of debt the typical american student acquires.
10. It is totally acceptable to not have your shit together in your 20's: In the States, we put so much pressure on ourselves to finish University as soon as possible and start on our career. It seems more acceptable here to not rush yourself when you are young. People also aren't having babies or getting married nearly as young. I would say that about 1/2 of my friends are married and 1/3 have a kid. The Verlo is five years older than me and I would say less than 1% of his friends are married or have babies. There is no rush here.
11. I have friends! After 6 months, I can finally say that I now have more than one friend that lives here, I have a few! Friends go a long way towards making a place feel like home!
What do you love about where you live?