Well it's that time of year and I'm heading back to Europe soon, so I thought I would publish a few things that I wrote in my diary when I lived in the Netherlands last year; a few things that happen to you if you stay in Holland long enough:
You will realise that Holland isn't actually Holland. It's official name is The Kingdom of the Netherlands.
You will dress from head to toe in orange for the first time in your life, just to fit in with the crowd.
You will probably feel a little shorter than normal as the Dutch are the tallest people in the world on average. Men are six feet tall (182.5 cm) and women are 5 feet 7 inches (170.5 cm). Apparently due to good medical care and a good diet.
On that note, you will find that a large component of that diet is cheese. The Dutch have been making cheese since 400AD and eat on average 14.3kg per person per year.
You will also notice that Dutch adults put hundreds and thousands (sprinkles) - the kind we put on ice cream or fairy bread, on their toast for breakfast.
Other Dutch favorites include; ‘drop’ – salty licorice, ‘pannenkoeken’ – pancakes and ‘frietjes’ – fries served with mayonnaise and cinn
If you are like me and from New Zealand your standards of a good coffee will rapidly drop. This seems to be, in my opinion, made up for by serving coffee with Belgian chocolates.
You will also realise that you must differentiate between 'cafés' which sell coffee and 'coffee shops' which sell more than coffee... Especially in Amsterdam apparently.
Fietsen - Cycling
You will manage to find your way around almost the whole country on a fietspad – or bike path.
You will win 'Queen of the Mountain' segments on Strava by 'climbing' over bridge.
You will realize it's considered a crime to complete your training indoors if it's at all sunny outside.
You will get a hard time if your back brake lever is on the left hand side of your handlebars.
You will narrowly avoid death in a race when you dart past dropped drink bottles during races on cobbled roads.
You will get used to seeing things like; children cycling from the age of one, whole families riding bikes together, whole families riding the same bike. Or whole families with four shopping bags, two bouquets of tulips and a giant wheel of cheese riding with one hand on the bars and the other hand on their phone.
You will also quickly notice that Holland has four times as many bikes as New Zealand has humans.
Language & Customs
You will start to call everything a 'he'. For example; "he is really dirty" - referring to your car...
Your English grammar and pronunciation will rapidly deteriorate. For example; when someone asks you how your race went, you will reply with something along the lines of: "it was very heavy, there was many wind and the cyclists, they drove very hard”.
You will learn a dialect of Dutch that only people within 20kms can understand.
You will get surprised on your birthday when people say ‘gefeliciteerd’ - congratulations, instead of happy birthday.
Every sentence you make will be followed by the word 'ja' (pronounced “ya").
You will see that when kids pass their exams, it’s common for families to hang a Dutch flag and school bag on the flagpole outside their house.
You will find out that people will, instead of swearing, insult each other with a disease. Usually a terrible disease too, like cancer, leprosy or small pox.
You will also find out that it is custom to buy everyone else dinner on your birthday.
You will find it strange when you see a house furnished with anything other than IKEA products.
You will realise that you are the only one in the country wearing shorts unless it's more than 25’c.
You will see more tulips and windmills than you thought were possible.
And lastly, you will realise that you miss it all when you're gone.