The Netherlands through the eyes of the Czechs: the houses here have no fence and through a large street window you can see directly into the living room

What are you doing in the Netherlands?

I was very lucky and almost immediately after my arrival I got a job in a Dutch travel agency, which at that time coincidentally established a Czech branch and entered the Czech market. Probably fate. I think that also played a big role in my stay. Unfortunately, the Czech project didn’t work out, but I’m still on the same path and I’m currently managing Dutch social networks and creating their content. So currently only three days a week, I spend the next two days with my daughter Sofia, who is here in the Netherlands the most common model if you have children (my husband only works four days a week). At the same time, I now write scripts remotely for Czech television.

How is the mentality of the locals different from ours?

The Dutch are much more positive, smiling and friendly. People greet each other in the street, they talk to you. Which is sometimes too much for my introverted self, considering I’m now a very easy target for all dog owners and mothers with a small child. They’re polite, I’ve probably never encountered rude staff or sales associates. On the other hand, the relationships are often not as deep as in our country and remain on this superficial and pleasant border. At the same time, the Dutch are very liberal and tolerant, from my point of view they can take life with more foresight and are not in a hurry. They are healthy and confident, they are not ashamed to express their opinions, they take better care of themselves. Much more than the Czechs expect. If you want to have dinner with someone, you usually make an appointment a month in advance. They are also honest and insist on the rules. When you are sick for example, you simply tell work that you are sick and you stay at home, you do not have to prove that you are incompetent. When I found out, I asked a colleague how she checked to see if someone was cheating. To this day, I remember her horrified expression when she answered the question “And why should anyone cheat?!”

Adela Pegleyova 29 November 2021 • 15:49

How is the local lifestyle different from ours?

The Dutch are much greener, they all cycle, in the heat, in the rain, in the snow, in slippers, in a suit or in a boat. They are more sustainable, more connected with nature. They have a much higher standard of living when you walk the streets, the gardens are usually full, especially for retirees, who can just afford to have a drink and enjoy a day off or go on an expensive vacation. In my experience, even young people here live lives far above the norm – most of my friends between the ages of 25 and 35 own homes and they have regular jobs. They are also more open – it is very typical for houses here to have no fence and through a large window to the street you can see directly into the living room. Nobody finds it weird and nobody just looks out the window. Well, other than me, it probably never ceases to appeal to me.

What surprised you the most?

For example, he does not “grunt” everywhere everyone thinks. Such a classic Dutch growl is only practiced in the north, for example in Amsterdam or Groningen, but also in the west in The Hague or Rotterdam. On the contrary, the south of the Netherlands has a soft ga which simply pronounces it like our ch. It was quite fun!

Is there anything you haven’t accepted so far?

I’m fine with everything, but there are a lot of things I like to complain about all the time. Maybe he only eats bread for lunch. That it rains so often here. That there are no hills and mountains. That mushrooms are not picked here, even though they grow here. This small beer is served in a semi-detached house. That people don’t take their shoes off when they come to visit, no matter what the weather is like (it hurt me especially when a bunch of friends walked on the white carpet in my daughter’s room or when thirty people came to our party one winter). That the Dutch love board and parlor games and instead of drinking and gossiping, they make you love them too. Or that school starts at age four and kindergarten only lasts four months. But I stretched it to eight.

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What do you miss from your home country in the Netherlands?

Family and friends, of course, but luckily I return to Prague very often. Also, my “Czech identity”, a person in a foreign country moves to another company, speaks another language, can’t often say everything he wants and as he would like, I’m not the same as ‘in Prague, for many people, I am only “the Czech”. It is difficult to explain. But when I move on to something more mundane – then of course Czech food and Czech draft beer. And especially the tartare!

On the contrary, what do you perceive better than here?

Many things. From the top quality and variety of food, to the fact that you can speak English everywhere, to the fact that almost anything can be solved online. If I am personal, then also maternity and postnatal care. If you have no health complications, you decide how the delivery will take place. It is quite common to give birth at home. So for peace of mind I gave birth in the hospital, but even there there is only a midwife and her partner in the room with you, no medical staff. Three hours after giving birth, my daughter and I came home, and then the nurses come to see you all day for a week and take care of you and your baby, teaching you how to take care of it. It is, I think, a very empathetic system.

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Do the locals know the Czech Republic? How do they react when you mention where you’re from?

They know and love Prague, and since it’s about an hour away by plane, many of them have stayed there for at least the weekend. They love Czech beer and appreciate how cheap it is with us. Many of them also go to Czech camps, which are said to be of a very good standard. Or they buy real estate in the Czech Republic – for example, the region around Lipno is famous for this.

What are the travel habits of the locals? Whether abroad or in your own country?

The Dutch love camping, many of them own a caravan and only go to Dutch campsites or to their nearest neighbours. What is different for the Czech Republic is Croatia and Egypt, for the Dutch there is Spain and Turkey – most of them go there for holidays. Curaçao and Aruba – the Dutch Caribbean islands are very popular. But the Dutch are simply everywhere! Wherever we are on vacation, my husband and I will always come across them. You will safely recognize them as the highest in society.

What five places would you show your best friend from the Czech Republic, who hasn’t been to the Netherlands yet?

Among the cities, I was definitely enchanted by Delft, Giethoorn or Haarlem. The beaches are also stunning, my favorite being Bloemendaal or the more famous Scheveningen. Kinderdijk with its windmills is definitely worth a visit, and it’s probably hard to recommend anything more Dutch. The northern islands, such as Texel or Terschelling, are also magnificent.

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Your favorite place or experience?

Personally, I like Den Bosch, where we live. The capital of North Brabant with around 150,000 inhabitants. It is an ideal city to live in and there is everything. I also love Dutch beaches, we went there almost every weekend. And in fact all cities. I probably haven’t seen a single one here that wasn’t pleasant.

And your favorite local dish?

Dutch cuisine is not completely rich or specific, so I really choose from a few. It’s probably a fast food snack – special retail -, something like minced sausage topped with mayonnaise, curry ketchup and sprinkled with onions. But in fact, over the years, I’ve become accustomed to all the variations of sandwiches that are served here for lunch, such as bread with carpaccio. And of course kibbeling – pieces of fried fish, most often cod, with garlic sauce. And fries!

What five terms would you use to describe the Netherlands and its people?

Tolerance, generosity, strength, wheel, smile.

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