The WSD's Top Ten Signs You are Becoming Dutch

By: Ernestine Lahey

Anyone who has been living the expat life for a while will tell you that there comes a moment when you look in the mirror (yes, figuratively you silly gooses) and realize – shock, horror! –you are becoming one of them. Here me and The Shoes offer (completely free of charge, you lucky things!) a guide for expats in that waterlogged clog-land I like to call home. And so I give you:

The Wooden Shoe Diaries’ Top Ten Signs You Are Becoming Dutch

1. You realize that the word kast is the best Dutch word ever and is far better than the over-specific choices of dresser, closet, wardrobe and armoire in English. You begin saying things like “Put this in the kast” and expecting everyone – Dutch or not – to know exactly what you mean.

2. Your friends back home think you are becoming rude because you now communicate in a clear and efficient manner. In restaurants you say “I’ll have the steak” instead of “I think I’ll have the steak” or “Can I have the steak please?” Say “I think I’ll have the steak” in the Netherlands and your waitress is likely to respond with “Do you need a few more minutes?” Ask if you can have the steak and she would be well within her rights to answer “Yes, if you want.” You’ll know you’ve become Dutch if you also begin to understand that neither of these responses is intended to be sarcastic.

3. You know that taai taai is not sushi.

4. You become a window cleaning snob. Where once you would just holster up your Windex and paper towel, these days window cleaning takes a whole morning and requires a much expanded armory including, as a bare minimum, a bucket of soap water, some vinegar, a squeegee and a chamois. Your windows are now so clean and streak free that you spend the afternoon listening to the intermittent thud of birds hitting the glass at top speed.

5. You can keep track of who is next in line in a crowded shop even when there is no discernible queue. If there is a queue you also understand that this means nothing. The person behind you is just as likely to push ahead of you when the next kassa (cash register) opens. You are three-quarters of the way to becoming Dutch if you have stopped finding this irritating. You are approaching official Dutch citizenship status if you have taken to doing this yourself (and if, like me, you’re from one of the most polite, queue-loving countries in the world, you probably get a gold star on your residence permit after you do this a few times).

6. You begin to feel awkward about answering the phone with “Hello?” because you realize that “hello” should only be a question if you are in a horror movie, and you have just opened the door to the darkened stairwell and said “Hello? Is anyone there?” Otherwise, “hello” should be a greeting and should not be pronounced with rising intonation. Do you want your phone conversations to remind you of a horror movie? Do you?

7. “Camping” has become a countable noun, as in:

Question:         “Where are you going on vacation this summer?”

Response:        “We’re going to a camping.”

8. You know that “fluitjes” are not wind instruments (though under the right conditions the contents have the capacity to turn you into one).

9. You seriously entertain the idea of giving birth at home without pain relief. If you are a woman, that is. And pregnant, of course. If you are not a woman or pregnant and you are still entertaining this idea this is not a sign that you are becoming Dutch, but it is a sign that you are nuttier than a nutcracker.

10. It’s your husband’s birthday, so you congratulate his mother. 

About the author

Expat Blog ListingErnestine Lahey is a Canadian expat living in Netherlands. Blog description: A Canadian expat in the Netherlands blogs about the zanier sides of life in Holland.
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Contest Comments » There are 12 comments

Ernie Lahey wrote 5 years ago:

I always look forward to reading your blogs , very interesting most times quite humorous.

Jean wrote 5 years ago:

The Wooden Shoes is my favourite blog! Always entertaining and thoughtful, I eagerly await each new entry!

Angie MacLeod wrote 5 years ago:

I look forward to reading Ernestine's blog. Because of the time difference I usually read it first thing in the morning and they're a great start to my day!

Marielle Van Velzen wrote 5 years ago:

Being Dutch has taken on a new meaning. I can't wait for your book to be published.

Jean Mac Mullin wrote 5 years ago:

Ernestine`s blogs are very witty & they always make you feel happier after you have read them.

Arlene Lahey wrote 5 years ago:

I love this blog. Ernestine has the ability that all true writers possess: the skill to see in life the small, ridiculous moments that make us laugh or surprise us. These smaller moments are shared by all of us, regardless of where we live. It is in making this connection with her readers that she is so skillful. In each of her stories, her readers find something that resonates, and which they then relate to an experience they've had. In this way, she connects us all through our shared appreciation of the absurd or simply baffling. Plus, she is funny.

Joe Lahey wrote 5 years ago:

Great blog again ... I always look forward to reading your entries!!

I am not Dutch, then! In fact, I am far from it. The question remains, should I keep trying or just give up?

Margaret Morris wrote 5 years ago:

As an expat myself, I find The Wooden Shoe Diaries takes an observant "outsider's" point of view, which is both funny, and thoughtful at the same time. Ernestine's spot on storytelling has me often nodding my head and laughing in affirmation!

Sheila Harte wrote 5 years ago:

I always look forward to Ernestine's blogs! They are always entertaining!

Lisa Escue wrote 5 years ago:

So fun! I love WSD! Thanks, Ernestine, for bringing your keen sense of humor to what can sometimes be a trying experience.

Meghan wrote 5 years ago:

#5 and #10-- so true! I now love congratulating other people's relatives on their birthdays.

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