The Dutchman’s Guide to Fitting In

I am an American citizen. I am also a Dutch citizen. This means I get to pick and choose which passport I want to travel on, and when I want to identify either the Dutch or the Americans as a ‘they’, or as an ‘us’. Since I currently live in the UK, I often find myself talking about both the Dutch and Americans as ‘they’ these days. Today, however, I’ll be wearing my Dutch hat.

Not this one, thank god.
Not this one, thank god.

When I moved to the Netherlands seven years ago I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pretty confident that my status as a long-time TCK would help me to deal with whatever came my way. I am used to being immersed in new cultures (for better or for worse), and I am used to having to adapt and fit in quickly. What I definitely didn’t expect was that I would learn a thing or two from the Dutch about this process.

When choosing a nationality for the character of Goldmember (in the 2002 movie of the same title), Mike Myers wanted someone from ‘a place that nobody has an axe to grind with’. How do you develop that kind of status as a nation? Partly by financing half the world and providing vital trade to the other half, partly by becoming known as ‘that place where weed is legal’ (again, a savvy sales tactic), and partly by encouraging its citizens to become expert blenders.

So here, as my gift to you, is the Dutchman’s three-step guide to fitting in. Use it wisely. Continue reading

Advertisements

Loving and Leaving Morocco

“Inshallah!”…Wait, Does That Mean Never?

Just two weeks ago, I packed up all of my earthly possessions and moved lock, stock, and barrel halfway across the globe. Okay, no. I packed up two bags, two carry-ons, and sold or donated the rest. Airlines these days are not particularly on board with the whole “But I need more luggage, this is a FOREVER move!” concept.

When we talk about moving halfway across the globe, we always picture far off lands, exotic environments, and lots of adventure. Though this is true, in my case the adventure is coming home. I have spent the last few years living in Morocco, and now it was finally time to return to the exoticness that is Washington State.

Morocco—the very word breathes adventure and mystery. Desert landscapes, camel caravans, and towering mounds of spices. Each time I visit home, people have asked me if it is dangerous, if there is unrest all over the place, and “Is it in any way more liberal than Saudi Arabia?” (Practically anywhere is more liberal than Saudi Arabia.)

I have come to realize that there are a lot of misconceptions about this beautiful country, which is a pity given that it is such a wonderful place. Continue reading

Things I’ve Learned Since Moving to London

london-bucket-list-travelista-blog1I can’t recall the moment I made the decision to move abroad. It might sound cliche, but I just sort of knew that it was what I needed. I have spent lots of time abroad in the past, spending various summers in Spain and other countries on the continent. But the one thing I hadn’t done was moved anywhere that wasn’t in California. Because of that, I knew that this would be an entirely different experience than what I had gone through before. This wasn’t going to be a vacation—this was a new phase in my life.

As I have mentioned before, I know a great deal about life in the UK, thanks to all the books and TV I have been exposed to. However, since I had never visited, there were bound to be brand new things to learn. I was not disappointed. Here is a list of things I have learned in the last month since moving to London…and I’m sure I will be adding to it in the future!

1.) Finding a flat (apartment) during the month of September is impossible.

2.) You will probably have to make an appointment to set up a bank account.

3.) Queues (lines) are a way of life.

4.) Chip and pin machines are irritating. (AKA not all automated machines take swipe credit cards.)

5.) Don’t be fooled—if you look in the right places, you can absolutely find the ingredients to make salsa.

6.) There’s this awesome thing called Argos.

7.) Tea comes with milk unless you tell them you want it black.

8.) Costa has better hot chocolate than Starbucks.

9.) Landlords don’t trust international students.

10.) Faffing is a word. (If something is a bit of a faff, that means its a hassle—too bothersome!)

Bonus: (or not-bonus depending on your arachnophobia) Spiders live and hunt in packs. If you are arachnophobic, don’t visit Brentford!

Happy travels. 🙂