For more information on the Dutch people, check out my friend A.D.’s blog!
One of my favorite shows in the history of the universe is “Seinfeld”. As such, as I exited my plane and embarked to my hostel in Amsterdam, I was reminded of this classic scene between George and Jerry.
Americans, to be honest, don’t have a good picture of what Europe is like. From my viewpoint so far, the European lifestyle is not that much different from American lifestyle. People wear modern clothing, live in apartments, use cars, smartphones, watch TV and drink beer. Basically anything you see in America, you’ll find everywhere I’ve been.
One of the beautiful differences though is the languages. Nearly every country in Europe has their own language, and while some may be similar to each other, they all have their noticeable differences.
Think about this though. France borders with Germany, Italy, Spain, and is just a 21 mile boat ride from the English isle. And yet, though these nation’s languages are all similar, they sound completely different. Written down, English and French don’t look that far apart. Spoken aloud, they couldn’t be more different. And this is beautiful.
At first glance, Dutch (Nederland) sounds like someone imitating a blender. But after 48 hours in Amsterdam, I’m starting to get it a bit. It’s like the “Most Interesting Man in the World” joke – He can speak French, in Russian -, in that it sounds like German being spoken by someone from Finland.
And it makes sense, with Finland/Norway/Sweden being an easy trip north, and Germany bordering Holland on its southern and eastern borders. So clearly there was some sort of cultural diffusion going on in the early days of the language from the Nordic sailors and the German farmers.
Now, back to the question at the top. Who are the Dutch?
They are most certainly not German. And they are most certainly not Scandinavian. They’re probably the best example of “European” that I can think of though.
In Amsterdam, everyone (yes, everyone) owns some kind of bicycle, whether the regular kind, or a moped/motorcycle. And likely due to high gas prices, there are more people who ride their bikes around town and to work, than drive. They ride in bike-only lanes in the streets, and it’s more dangerous crossing the bike lane than the car lane during rush hour!
In Holland, people are polite. They always give the pedestrian the right of way, unlike England or France, where they don’t exactly care if you’re crossing the street at your leisurely pace.
In Holland, a national team football match is just another excuse to party. I’ve never seen as many people dressed in the famous Oranje colors (orange) from head to toe. I saw orange blazers, orange fedoras, orange jerseys, jackets, shoes, pants, socks, scarves and plenty more. And an Amsterdam radio station hosted a massive outdoor concert for all fans, where people got to dance and sing songs about the team.
- Side Note – Everyone loves the Oranje in Holland. There is literally a massive catalog of songs dedicated to the team, sung by famous singers. I don’t think America has, or will ever have, an equivalent.
Maybe it’s too early to be making grandiose statements about Holland with just a short amount of time spent here already. But I think it’s a great country right now, and I’ll base it on that. I’m sure in my next few days here, I’ll get to interact more and more with the great people of the Netherlands.
Who are the Dutch?; Fit, polite, and people who know how to have a good time.
Follow Dan Karell on Twitter: @DanKarell15