“Amsterdam is not the Netherlands” or “How tricky stereotypes can be”

I think it is common fact that you can’t judge the country by its capital: everybody loves saying this with the pompous look, showing that he is smart enough to know it and has enough travelling experience to prove it. Nevertheless, we are still saying that we have seen France, being only in Paris, or explore Germany, visiting just Berlin. We are throwing the words that this country we like and this one not only after 3 days of sightseeings. We are so fast in judging: probably because everybody is selfish and believes that his opinion is the right one.

To tell the truth, I am having the same sin that I payed off when I came to the Netherlands for a living. I have been doing my internship in Almere. It is a small town nearby Amsterdam, 20 mins by train and you are there. Nevertheless, the difference is so huge that you will never believe that you actually are living so close to the craziest city in Europe.

How many of you are thinking that Amsterdam is the best party place where you’ll never know what could happen? When you are saying Amsterdam, the first association that occurs is weed and the Red light district. Yes, the Netherlands became famous of legalization of weed and prostitution and as the result everybody is thinking that the spirit of freedom is must here.All the tourists are claiming that they want to stay here forever. But is it so much fun to be there if you are actually not visitor but normal dweller? Can Amsterdam define what the Netherlands is.

I was having the same idea: I wasn’t impressed by weed or smth else though:) But this spirit of freedom caught me and I was telling everybody that the Netherlands is the only country in Europe where I can live on the constant basis. Who knew that I was actually wrong:)

Even though the first time I came to the Netherlands, I visited also Eindhoven and Utrecht,- Amsterdam was my main goal. I felt in love with tulips, cheese, a lot of international people around, nice food, dynamic environment, even weather was perfect! I was excited to get the internship there: what can be better to live in the dream country where people are trying to get? I didn’t think that I would not fit and, what is more, would get bored.

I don’t wanna offend anybody, but if you are at least a little bit crazy, you will not be able to live here. Even considering the fact that I was travelling somewhere every month and was trying to have active life, my ghost town was poisoning me. The Netherlands is the country that consists of the small towns where day-to-day routine is killing you. Yeah, you would say: take a look at Norway or Finland where the towns are super small as well. I have been grown in the small city in Belarus and I am kinda from the village myself.:) But the thing is more in the environment and people.

People are boring here: yes, I would not deny that they are super nice and helpful. They are really polite and will not offend you without really serious reason. Almost everybody is speaking English and they are warmly welcoming you if you are a foreigner and treating you with respect. Nevertheless, they are wimp: they are living boring life and don’t have this note of craziness that is everywhere in their capital. Everything is well-organized and having its own meaning: first, you are so inspired by this, but then after some time you are annoyed. As my Dutch friend told me: we are lazy, stingy and love complaining even if we are not having a lot of things to complain as our life is good. I would not dare to argue with him.

Moreover, even if they are treating foreigners warmly, if you are not Dutch, you are not having a lot of opportunities. Wanna open bank account? No dutch passport?- Have at least special Dutch card.-Don’t have it?- Sorry, we cant help you. Wanna get season tickets for the transport?- Give me, please, bank account that you couldn’t open as you are foreigner. Wanna even go to the gym?- You need bank account or you will pay more. One of the thing that I was really impressed is when my friend from France went to the hospital and was asked to pay enormous amount of money only because she is not Dutch. Only when she started arguing that she is also from EU and is having some common european card, they gave her medicine for free. Before it was: not Dutch?- Pay!

You are getting into the depression here easily. I don’t know from where but it has come for almost every foreigner that I met there: maybe it’s weather with no sun plus environment. And it is not just no sun: my country is not sunny at all! But the constant not rain, but drizzle with strong wind when it is warm in the morning and then in an hour it is super cold- you will never understand what is happening outside. I would better change this weather for the cold and snowy one.  As well, talking about environment, you are feeling some pressure all the time: like you are in trap and cant find way from it.

There are a lot of good things here as well, but only if you want to have absolute calmness and probably if you are having the right personality. If you are ok, that there are no people in the streets after 6 as everything is closed and you are ready to spend your evening of sitting at home or going in the park with your dog, so maybe it is for you. I feel that i can like this type of life only when I will be in my 70s, but now I am not ready as I need energetic people around that would like to act and do something. Yes, there are some places for the youth as well and probably if you are having some  big company of friends, for sure, you will feel good everywhere. But if I would even compare my experience of coming to the country absolutely alone and then how my life was after a month, the common thing is that I was finding my people everywhere, as I am extrovert, for sure, but the Netherlands brought even me down.

When you are coming to Amsterdam, you are feeling yourself in another universe: everything is so different! I am not feeling myself in the Netherlands: now I am differentiating them one from another. Amsterdam is bright, flexible: it is inspiring and giving you energy. Even going down the streets not in the touristic places, but some residential districts is different: it is just something in the air that makes you feel better, while in other towns of the NL you are getting depressed.

My advice is think twice to go somewhere on the constant basis: try first how you will fit into the environment, how you would like routine life. Even if everywhere in the world average person usually is going to work and coming back,there are a lot of small details that actually characterizes your life, the details that are making you happy.

Nevertheless, The Netherlands is definitely not for me. But maybe it is for you? 🙂

 

P.S. It is just my PERSONAL opinion and you can definitely have another one. I don’t wanna offend anybody: just describing my own experience and expressing my thoughts

 

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Lydia

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