>At the moment I am researching and writing an information packet on what it means to live as a foreigner in the Netherlands. While I am doing this research it dawns on me that there are several factors in my country that don’t make it the easiest country to live in for Highly Sensitive People. Don’t get me wrong, I love living here and there are also many good things about my country. Here I just want to point out some pitfalls for foreigners and indeed native Highly sensitive persons.

Nederland volgens NAP. Eigen werkImage via Wikipedia
amount of land that would
be underwater without the dykes

    Op rolletjes / On WheelsImage by FaceMePLS via Flickr
    bicycles should move as many as possible
  1. The sheer number of people living here close together. There are more than 16 million people living together on a piece of land the size of the state of Maryland in the US. Drive 3 hours in any direction and you are in Belgium, Germany or the North Sea. And of this almost 20% is water. This means that you will often be surrounded by other people. Finding a piece of land that is truly silent and peaceful can be a bit of a challenge. So don’t be too shocked by it and set out to find your haven right away. It can be done!
  2. The Dutch Bureaucracy. We have a name for being pretty easy going and the country where everything is possilbe. Drugs, prostitution, euthenasia to name a few. But don’t be fooled. If you want to get something done, prepare to have a lot of time and do not get irritated quickly. Stay patient and polite. For example the Dutch rijksmusuem was supposed to close 2 years for restauration. That was 5 years ago and it is still closed. Everybody wanted to have their say about it, we love commitees of any kinds. And of course cyclists protested when the plans included them being unable to drive underneath the building any more.
  3. Cyclists bring me to another problem. With 16 million people and at least 1 car in every household you need a lot of patience on the roads. Be warned that cyclists are everwhere in the cities and the rules of the road do not apply to them. They will ingnore traffic lights, ignore right of way. What makes it really bad? The law is on their side, if you hit a cyclist in any way even when having right of way and a green light you are almost always the guilty party. So make sure you develop a 6th sense when it comes to cyclists and err on the side of caution. 
  4. If you think public transport is the solution, think again… especially when it comes to rush hour. Dutch trains and busses tend to be overcrowded. When a train comes into the station staid businessmen will turn into warriors and little old ladies will use their walkingsticks to beat a path to the entrance. For any age it means anything is allowed to get in first. If people wanting to get out of the train first are in the way just push them back and out of your way.
  5. Yes the Dutch are rude. Even to Highly Senstive People living here they appear very rude. We don’t like hieranchy very much, so don’t be surprised when even bosses have to be very polite to ask employees to do something for them. We don’t know how to queu, will not stay on the right side on an escalator, staff in restaurants and shops will often treat you rude and doctors have no bedside manner. Be prepared for it in advance.

And yet I love this little very full country. We are also a nation who love their languages, were one of the first nations to have freedom of religion.


If you have other examples of Dutch quirkiness feel free to comment.

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