The other day I found the following article (click here) via Twitter. It’s a list of 5 things Americans have that the Brits don’t and that the Brits envy not having, though they won’t admit it. I thought it would be fun to see which 5 American things the Dutch envy not having.
For those of you who’ve never visited The Netherlands: it’s one of the densest populated countries on the planet. The country is the size of a pea compared to the US of A (roughly the size of the state of Massachusetts) and that’s it. That tiny bit of land houses over 17 million people. To say it’s a bit crammed and crowded would be an understatement. So one thing Dutch people would love to have is space. A freestanding house is a luxury not many people can afford and if it has a nice wide open view it is even less affordable. And IF you find a house with just that, chances are your view and space will become limited within the next 10 years as governments plan an air strip, more houses or designate that nice stretch of land for generating wind energy.
When you go out to dinner you will find that Dutch restaurants will always charge you extra for drinks, the mayonnaise on the side, the extra whipped cream, or that customized pizza. In the States getting a free refill is quite normal and service staff will even offer extra whipped cream without it being some kind of trick to get more money out of you. In Holland, however, everything ends up on your bill and customization, unless it’s for a medical condition, is usually charged extra wherever you go. I think that especially in simple establishments this should be possible over here as well. I mean, why charge for bottled water when our tap water is perfectly fine and would do in most cases?
This taps into what I said above: Americans are friendly. Over friendly according to some Dutch people, but I actually like that. They talk to you, ask you how you are doing and wish you a nice day, whether they know you or not. They will help you with your luggage and the biggest difference is the service staff. American service staff is much friendlier and helpful than Dutch staff, at least in my experience. It doesn’t mean that Dutch staff aren’t friendly. I just think that the Dutch can learn something about hospitality in general, especially towards strangers.
The USA is a very individualistic country. This has its pros and cons, but one of the pros is that finding who you are, and aspiring to be the best person you can be, are high on everyone’s agenda. In Holland the general mentality tends to be: doe maar gewoon dan doe je al gek genoeg (act normal, that is crazy enough). In other words: just walk down the well-beaten path so nothing bad can happen. Dutch people aren’t exactly risk takers in that sense and even though we are known to be a pretty tolerant and liberal country, this only goes to a certain extend. It’s definitely not an ‘everything goes’ kind of country. In fact, Dutch people can be quite narrow minded and uninspiring
5. Major player on the world stage
Holland once used to be one of the most important countries in the world. The 17th century is often referred to as the Golden Age and the Dutch pretty much ruled the seas and were an example to the rest of the world when it came to trade, art and politics. However, being as tiny as we are, hasn’t exactly helped up in the long run. Yes, The Netherlands are still a Western, rich country with plenty of influence, but when it comes to major decisions being made within the global arena we are far from a major player. It’s Germany, France and England which are the most important European countries, and we automatically look to the US whenever something needs to be done on a global scale.
I will post another article soon on 5 Dutch things Americans should envy, because this doesn’t just go one way. Every country has its up and downs and pros and cons, and these are just 5 things that sometimes annoy me about the Dutch way of things. For the Dutchies: what do you find annoying about The Netherlands? What do you think Holland has that no one else has? Let me know in the comments below!