Us Europeans

Archives for Netherlands

Religion and ideology

`God created the world, but the Dutch created The Netherlands` – Even though big shares of The Netherlands would not have existed without physical effort of Dutch human beings, this saying at least marks how much they believe in their own influence on the course of life. While official religions collectively praise God, many Dutch prefer to individually honour something. Believing in `something` has even been allocated the corresponding term `something-ism`. Here`s an overview of what `something-ism` sounds like in the streets of The Hague:

Posted by Bruno

Apart from the border between Friesland and the rest of The Netherlands, there`s another dividing line that crosses The Netherlands. The `big rivers` separate the traditionally catholic provinces Noord-Brabant and Zuid-Limburg in the South from the protestant ones in the North. Over the last 40 years, the influence of both religions has decreased, but differences remain. The three-day celebration of Carnival is one of the ways for the southern provinces to honour their distinctively different mentality.

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Early birds

During my two-week stay in Sweden, I learnt how reaching personal independence was the main purpose of parents raising Swedish kids. Children in The Netherlands are brought up with the same idea. At an average age of 18 to 20, Dutch children are expected or sometimes encouraged to leave their parental home. In the meantime, they are supposed to have learnt how to support themselves. Sideline jobs, known as `bijbaantjes` are an important stage of growing up. A good reason to ask some young Dutch people about their first jobs.

Posted by Bruno

Fresh start

A fresh start of the new year.. A few thousand Dutch people are taking that phrase literally. Today, on the first day of 2008, they gather for a collective dive into the North Sea. The summer beach resort of Scheveningen used to be the only official location for the New Year`s Dive. A number of alternative dives have been approved by sponsor Unox, but I selected the original Scheveningen one to ask people how they made it through the change of years.

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Looking back

31 December 2007, another year gone by. While newspapers and TV summarise last year`s wars, disasters and scandals, I prefer to spend my time finding out about people`s positive memories of 2007.

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Fryslan Boppe

The Netherlands is too small a country to have different languages on its territory – one would say. There is one province where people would certainly disagree with that. Friesland, in the north of The Netherlands and the local language is known as Frisian. Calling Frisian a dialect would a straightforward offence to most Frisians. The language has been officially recognised and most names of villages are marked in Frisian first, then followed by Dutch. What`s worth knowing about this curious language and province?

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Global warming poses different threats to different areas in Europe. Portugal and Spain are faced with drought and heat, the Alps with melting glaciers and all of Europe with more extreme weather. The Netherlands is touched in a particular way. Half the country is situated below sea level, and this is coincidentally the part of the country where 75% of the population resides. How do the Dutch feel about the threat of a rising sea level? I`m doing a round up in Almere, one of the cities constructed from scratch in the 1960s. Almere is located in the reclaimed province of Flevoland, where nothing natural dates back more than 50 years.

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Windmills, wooden shoes and marihuana leaves: many people would be quick to associate those with The Netherlands. They may be surprised that they actually need to search for windmills should they want to see one. The same for people wearing wooden shoes. And even though marihuana can be easily obtained, it`s especially the tourists who openly consume it in the streets of Amsterdam.

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FF Chille

The Netherlands is a crowded and busy country. The love for planning allows people to make the most of their time, resulting in a labour productivity that ranks among the highest in the world. But how much time do the Dutch allow themselves for relaxation? And how do they spend their spare time?

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The Hague, NL (View on map) I`m a few days ahead of schedule, inserting another `personal reflections` article into the Us Europeans archive. The reason is fairly simple and straightforward. I have been following the news in The Netherlands quite closely while travelling, and am quite worried about what`s happening. Politicians are messing around with… » read more

Posted by Bruno