Blog - Reverse culture shock

Added on Tuesday, 2013-12-10 11:01 CET in category Netherlands
When moving abroad, especially far abroad, a culture shock is often unavoidable: I e.g. just couldn't get used to Muscovites' apathy, or to the Czech language (sorry :P). But now that, after having lived abroad for a while, we've moved back home, I'm starting to somewhat feel the effects of a reverse culture shock.

The overall feeling I get now that we're living in the Netherlands again is one of a strange familiarity. I obviously speak the language, know how "the system" works, but it feels different than before. There're things I love, like:
  • Direct debit: no more transfering money every month, or worse: going somewhere to pay;
  • No ATM fees anywhere, worldwide: the Dutch have no idea how good their banking system really is;
  • The food! Oh, the food! Especially around Sinterklaas I really have to hold back… Dutch pastry, bread and cookies are the best in the world!
  • Being closer to our Dutch friends and family :)
And then there're some things I'll have to get used to again:
  • People speaking Dutch. When abroad, hearing someone speak Dutch would immediately attract my attention. It took me a week or two to get rid of that here :)
  • Paying for parking: it took about half an hour to get my first parking fine…
  • Peoples' and companies' inflexibility:
    • Meeting up with friends or family is planned weeks if not months in advance;
    • TV or internet connections may take a month to be connected, instead of days;
    • UPC for whatever reason has a monopoly in Rotterdam on cable internet;
    • "What do you mean, you're only open until 14:00?", "What do you mean, you're open Tuesday-Thursday only?"
  • Commuting by train: the Dutch railways (NS) have a thing for running late or canceling trains, which to boost are stuffed during rush hour;
  • People suddenly live so far away: when everyone you know lives in the capital, you'll hardly ever spend more than an hour getting anywhere, if that. And the Netherlands may be small, but going for a visit can easily mean a 2+ hour drive.

I don't think it's going to take all that long to get used again, though. After all, even when we lived abroad we still visited the Netherlands quite regularly. Perhaps I'll just enjoy this strange familiarity while it lasts :)