Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ten Things You Don't Know about The Netherlands and the Dutch Until You Move Here (Part 5)

(c) Amanda van Mulligen
The typical Dutch stereotype consists of cheese eating, clog wearing tall people talking a dialect of German with a backdrop of windmills sailing round on the flatlands. However, there is much more to this small country and the people who live in it than the rest of the world thinks. Here's the fifth and last part of a series on things you don't necessarily know about the Dutch and their country until you move here.

9. Politics is Fragmented, To Say the Least
Before I moved to the Netherlands, I had little experience or direct knowledge of how it is to live in a country under a coalition government. Since I moved to the Netherlands I have known little else. Until the last general election in 2010 in the UK, there has been no coalition in my lifetime, or my parents' life time come to that. Recent Dutch politics has been nothing but a series of coalitions, and unstable ones at that. To say recent Dutch governments have been fragile is an understatement - yet somehow that isn't reflected in daily life.

The newest Dutch government took a few months to form and was controversial to say the least. However, looking on the bright side - it could be worse... we could be living in Belgium where they have been living with no government for seven months.

The Dutch take to the Ice (c) A van Mulligen
10. The Dutch are Ice Crazy
Maybe I led a sheltered life in England but I had never stood on a frozen lake or seen people skating on natural ice until I came to the Netherlands. If we have a cold spell here, the shops are amok with Dutch folk trying to buy new skates. As soon as there is ice covering any waterway the Dutch make a mad dash for their skates and take to the ice like ducks to water. And they have a blast. I have never seen anything like it - the Elfstedentocht is a great example of the enthusiasm and excitement for skating in this little land.

Of course there is a dangerous side - lives are lost because of thin ice. At best, falling through the ice is certainly no fun and not something you forget in a hurry. My husband can attest to that!

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