Living in the Netherlands (The First Months)

Alright. It's been a few months already since coming here to The Netherlands. I want to talk about what transpired, living here from Day 1 up to this time of writing as we continue immersing ourselves in the Dutch culture.

The Dutchies

They are amiable people. That observation still has remained since my first days here. Sometimes, it's the non-locals who are unfriendly, feeling entitled, and rude. To be honest.

The Attractions

It is undeniable that The Netherlands is a sight to behold. It has lots of beautiful parks and destinations. I love that many of the cultural structures are preserved. They are archaic, dating back to the 14th century.

On weekends, we visit central stations and begin our self-curated walking tour. The key cities are teeming with museums and war memorials. The country was a war hotspot back in the ages. We spoke to a curator in one of the museum parks in Nijmegen, and he told us that the palace ruins were created by the attacking Vikings. Everywhere we go, History seems to unfold before our eyes.

The Food

Although we are still trying to get used to bread, soup, potatoes, and their combinations, it is still a food adventure in a new land. I offset my Asian cravings by cooking at home or visiting markets such as Amazing Oriental, which offers a variety of Asian food and delicacies from home. Sometimes, we dine or do takeaways at Japanese, Vietnamese, or Thai restaurants. The good thing is that there is plenty of them! 

However, I crave pansit Malabon, bilo-bilo, inihaw na bangus (milkfish, which we couldn't find here!), and beef tendon noodle soup from Malaysia. I cannot recreate them here. But I am happy that I can cook chicken or seafood kare-kare with easy-to-find ingredients. Except for the banana blossoms, which I love. 

Some of the Dutch food I like: stampot, chicken frikandel, pancakes, waffles, and most recently, apple pie (or apple tart for them) from Winkel 43. We visited this store in Amsterdam on a Sunday, and the queue looked 43 feet long! Haha!

The Movies

We watched in August our first movie here at the EU-famous Pathé. It was the latest Missions Impossible saga. MI was also the first movie we watched when we moved to Malaysia in 2018. What a coincidence! 

The seats were a-OK. We had better movie seats in Asia. Considering that we had to pay EUR29 (PhP1800) for two people. Exorbitant! It was not even a loveseat. Maybe it depends on how big the movie is.

Inside the movie house, you will see kiosks of snacks and drinks selection. The kassa (express self-checkout card payment counters) are plenty and located right near the lifts going to your assigned movie halls.

The Hassles

One of the noticeable hassles here is on setting a doctor's appointment. The Dutch system works by registering with a general physician. This means that this doctor will be the sole point person who can refer you to a specialist for a specific treatment. This is a bit problematic. It often takes two weeks to set an appointment with the main physician. And another two weeks for the specialist. One of my friends said that unless the doc sees you are in deep pain or medical trouble, he will not attend to you immediately. He will give aspirin or paracetamol to relieve your pain. Haha!

This is not the case in Southeast Asia, where a patient can walk into a clinic/general physician for a check-up. A referral won't take two weeks. A government registration for one main doctor is also not a requirement.

However, I like that the regular laboratory and other tests are free-of-charge, such as the Tuberculosis test and the PAP Smear. The TB test is a requirement of the Dutch government. The PAP Smear is voluntary. I took the latter because it is gratis and a must-have diagnostic routine. In Southeast Asia, these are expensive, and all tests are part of the overall hospital fee.

Residents and citizens must have health insurance, which is paid monthly, quarterly, or annually. They are not cheap, around EUR150 per person each month. Add-ons include dental services and other modules. Going to the dentist without insurance is grossly overpriced. I miss Asia when it comes to the dentist and the doctors!

The changeable weather is another hassle to note. One can never go wrong with a sweater or a raincoat, even if the forecast says it's sunny all day. Believe me, the weather pattern is so tricky it's almost non-existent!

It also won't hurt if you buy a variety of cold-weather clothes, a necessity even in Summer. Climate change, baby!

Prepare yourself if you are like me who has a strong olfactory and hates cigarette smoke. The smell of marijuana (cannabis) lingers on every street corner. It does not smell nice, like dog or cat pee. Or maybe I was smelling dog pee?! Haha! Seriously, since cannabis is legal, its odor abounds. I don't like to be a passive smoker of this downer, but I guess you can say that now.

There are many great things about living here, as well as some nuisances. Nothing is perfect in any country. So it depends now on how a person tolerates the quirks and challenges. 

For more of my experiences expressed in shorts and videos, please go and subscribe to the Travel Peoples YouTube channel. Another way is to follow Holland Foodie on Facebook and Instagram for my various food trip experiences and discoveries.