Later this week it will be 1.5 years since I moved to Denmark, and a Twitter poll told me that you would like to hear what I miss about The Netherlands (NL)! It goes without saying that of course I miss many people there who I don’t get to see as often! But here are 10 things about NL that perhaps I was not expecting to miss.
1 – Healthcare professionals who listen to me
I’ve had to deal with a number of both physical and mental health issues in recent years, and in NL I finally felt like I was getting the care that I needed. To put this mildly, the level of ignorance both me and my husband encountered here would be the number one reason for us to go back, and to advise anyone in similar situations to stay away. I don’t want to go into all the details, but perhaps the best example is my psychiatrist saying “I don’t remember what dose you are on but just double it” about lithium, after I had described the adverse side effects I’ve been experiencing.
2 – The train connections
I like travelling by train and although Denmark has good connections to Sweden and Germany, it was easier to reach more places directly from NL – London in 4 hours, Paris in 3, Berlin in 6 and so on.
3 – The tap water
Tap water in Denmark is safe to drink, but has high concentrations of minerals (safe but annoying to deal with due to the limescale build-up) and the tap water in NL just somehow tastes better to me.
4 – My go-to shops
In NL I developed a list of places that I’d buy a lot of basics, that I haven’t quite found good replacements for here. My top three are (the links go to Wikipedia for some more information about the stores):
- Decathlon, which sells sports and hiking equipment, mostly of in-house brands which have great designs but are a lot cheaper. Decathlon exists in 60 countries, but not in Denmark, and none of the neighbouring countries want to ship here.
- Hema, which sells pretty much everything, again with own designs and great prices. It is a Dutch store that has a few stores in other countries. I haven’t tried shipping yet, but there is also something nice in just browsing there in person.
- Amazing Oriental, a grocery store with food and drinks from many Asian cuisines. I’ve found smaller stores here in Copenhagen, but none that have quite the same range of products in one place.
5 – The freshest vegetables
NL produces a lot of vegetables, and they stay good longer, compared to some vegetables that Denmark imports from Spain, or, yes, The Netherlands. Or maybe it’s just the grocery store next to my place. I don’t miss a lot of specific foods otherwise, maybe except proper pindakaas (“peanut cheese”).
6 – Sauna complexes
You would think that the proximity to other Nordic countries would mean this is a thing here. Yes, there are saunas, but mostly as a “side” to swimming, and/or by the hour, and/or are “not a real sauna” according to my Swedish husband. I’m talking about complexes where you buy a day pass and can go to multiple saunas, hot baths, cold baths, a restaurant, and so on – popular in NL and I think at least in a part of Germany.
7 – At least 5K EUR extra that used to be in my bank account
Although I received some moving allowance from ITU, it just covered the cost of the movers driving here with our things, and we did all of the packing etc ourselves to reduce costs. But with a few trips back to NL with certified PCR tests at each end, not being to go across country borders when originally planned, and ultimately furnishing an entire apartment in a few days, it was even a more expensive & stressful exercise than moving countries is otherwise. To be fair, this was not entirely unexpected, and one of the reasons I never understood how some senior academics expect juniors to just go and do that multiple times (the other is healthcare, as per point 1).
8 – DIY-ing the place I live
Alterations are not allowed in many? rentals, therefore also not where I live now. I miss being able to attach things to walls, ceilings, and other existing structures. First thing I’m doing when this is possible again, is getting one of those ceiling bridges for the cats.
9 – A scheduled lunch break
Lunch food in Denmark is much better – I was never quite satisfied with NL’s selection of bread with cheese and milk (yes, really). But at least in Dutch universities there is a lunch break, say from 12:30 to 13:30, when no classes are scheduled. If a “lunch meeting” is scheduled, usually said meeting will at least have the bread/cheese/milk on offer. Here classes start at even hour blocks (8am, 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm) and it can be difficult to meet with colleagues who are teaching or have regular meetings without food at 12pm.
10 – Oranjekoorts a.k.a. “Orange fever”
A thing that happens during King’s (previously Queen’s) day, and whenever NL plays football where everybody dresses up in orange and paints Dutch flags on their face and it’s a big party, like so: