Last week I was corresponding with someone from my church in Holland. An American that is. I was drawn to her because we both went through moving across the ocean. Accept, she (an American) married a Dutchy and immigrated to Holland. I (a Dutchy) married an American and immigrated to the States. My motivation to write was the fact that I am in Holland soon and I wanted to bring her some American goodies, goodies I am sure she is missing just like I am missing Dutch goodies. It was so nice to connect with someone who understands! Erin understands that there is a big difference between Holland and the States. She understands that building new friendships takes effort and patience because we are no longer in college when that was pretty much a smooth ride. She understands that humor is the first thing that goes out the door when moving to a different country.
Don’t get me wrong. I think my transition to the States was an easy one. Very smooth. I was happy to move!!!! There are just some things that happen when you make a big move like that, there will be things to miss like typical holidays, family and friends, products and cultural normalities.
God was so good when He gave me the desires of my heart, not only in marriage but also with me living in the States again. God was so faithful and good in the details too. 10 minutes west of me I have my best friend Melissa, 10 minutes east of me I have my best friend Sharron. I am blessed and my start wasn’t as raw as Erin’s for sure. She moved to a country she had probably never visited before. Dutch is a very difficult language to learn while English is a wide spread language that has overtaken the Dutch TV channels and even the Dutch language is infiltrated by English words. So I reckon my move across the ocean was a bit easier for me than it was for Erin.
And still… there are things I miss. I didn’t realize something till last October. I was in Holland for a brief visit and me and mom were getting together with family friends. I grew up with this family and I was as much their child as my moms 😉 . First of all, we went into this bar type place, kind of like a brown cafe in a historical building and we spent time ‘ borrelen ‘. Now there you have a miss. In Holland there’s this things called ‘ borrelen ‘ and nothing in the States is like it. You just sit in one place for hours and talk and laugh. No one grabs your empty plate when you are done, you are not rushed out of the door. You can take the table for as long as you’d like without people eyeing you out. And you order these typical Dutch snacks, thus the name ‘ borrelen ‘. We were having so much fun and we were laughing… and very specifically, they were laughing because of me. And all of a sudden I realized that these people get me. These people get me like no one (accept Tim) in the States gets me. We share the same humor. Described by Tim as dry, quirky, a little cynical at times and over the top.
Just this weekend Tim and I had a bunch of friends over. The main goal of the weekend was to have a fun sleepover and playing a game called ‘ Cards against humanity’. When I read about this game I knew right away this wasn’t a game for me. Although I am pretty fluent in English, I am just not good at word games. There’s still too much I don’t get. And my humor is so different, I simply don’t get American humor. And to be the center of attention while finishing sentences and it needing to be fun… I was just nervous and insecure. Erin was describing how she cracks joke after joke in Holland but people are just not realizing how funny she really is 😉 .
Another conflict I run into is that I am your typical Dutch: loud, don’t beat around the bush kind of person, what I think is what I say. I sometimes see some shocked faces when conversing with people. They think I am rude 😉 . So it takes some getting used to, namely for the people 😉 . I wonder if I should work real hard to change, on the other hand this is so who I am. So, good friends are getting used to me and new people I kind of warn up front.
History… I miss having history with people. I have friends that have people around them who they’ve known for years, they share a history. I don’t really share history with people, I am building history. So at times I can feel left out, especially when there is talk about the good old days. When hanging out in October I just loved that these dear friends knew me so well. Even in giving advice… there’s a certain wisdom that comes from history.
Other differences, challenges and opportunities:
~ Adjusting recipes because I can’t find ‘my’ ingredients.
~ Food is SO expensive here. That is hard to get over.
~ I miss the easiness of being able to buy a good fresh bread at he bakery. Bakeries are rare and when I find one I am just not willing to spend $ 6 – $ 10 on a bread. Now I just make my own bread.
~ Our licorice that is not the same as your red licorice. True licorice doesn’t come in red, trust me.
~ Americans dye flowers, that is CRAZY to me. Please let flowers just be flowers.
~ I miss riding my bike everywhere. Where we live it is very hilly. I went to get milk by bike once… not a success… For one, my husband made me wear a helmet and two, when I wasn’t home after an hour and a half he got worried. It wasn’t a quick errand like in Holland, the hill was tougher than I thought it would be 😉 .
~ I always loved everything being so big here. In Holland, while missing the States, I filled my kitchen with big American mugs and all. But now here I miss ‘schoteltjes’ (VERY small desert plates) for a piece of cake. You eat desert or cake off a regular plate, really?
These are just little facts of what happens to a person when she moves into a different culture. I am not complaining. Let me say again, the ‘ love’s ‘ out way the ‘ misses ‘ big time:
~ An American husband who leads his wife so very well. In Holland we tend to not focus on the roles between husband and wives, and precisely the leading role the husband can carry out so well.
~ An American husband who takes providing for his family very seriously.
~ My new life in being married.
~ I married into a believing family!
~ I love church in America.
~ The space everywhere.
~ The weather. Even in the winter the sun shines daily.
~ Snow in the winter.
~ Being able to exercise outside all the time.
~ The gym only costs 7 dollars a month, unlimited excess.
~ The coffee flavors.
~ Coffee to go.
~ Bank Drive Through.
~ Bed Bath and Beyond.
~ Bath and Body works.
~ Chocolate chips.
~ Stores are open 24/7.
~ The whole 24/7 concept is pretty cool.
~ Flavors and scents in everything (I love the lotions here).
~ Having an accountability partner. It is hard to find in Holland, people are not used to ‘systems’ like this.
~ Amazing and big fabric stores.
~ Very cute coffee shops (and coffee shop actually means COFFEE shop).
~ Growing in creativity and self sufficiency. Ok, so I can’t find my Dutch All Spice here. Well… why don’t I make my own spice then. I get more creative all the time and figure out how to make things myself.
Did you ever experience moving into a different culture? What were your ‘ loves ‘ and ‘ misses ‘ ?
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