I moved to The Netherlands with the idea to check if the neighbour’s grass indeed was greener. My work project was supposed to last 3-6 months. Now, 12 years later, I am still here, all settled and institutionalised. But even though the girl left the Czech republic, the country couldn’t get erased from the girl. In other words, despite my flawless language skills there are still some fields and marks that make me act in a different fashion than an ordinary Dutch(wo)man would. Luckily my friends and family don’t dislike them – quite the contrary, they find them mostly cute. Sort of. They say. I think.
Mushroom hunting (yes, that is how Wikipedia calls the most popular Czech autumn hobby) is the one thing that is hard to describe to anyone outside Czech republic. Back home, the below picture couldn’t ever be made as the mushrooms would have been picked up way before growing to this size.
Yes, we pick mushrooms in forests (and parking lots) and we know which ones are poisonous so we don’t touch those. And when in Czech you hear people asking: “Rostou?” (“(Are they) growing?”) and see them disappearing in forests with brown baskets it is most definitely the sign marking the start of the mushroom season.
Carp: “Do you really eat fish that lives in mud? For Christmas dinner???
Cookie: When visiting Dutch friends, one is being offered a cup of coffee and a cookie. ONE cup of coffee and ONE cookie. After that, the metal box with cookies disappears in the depths of the kitchen again. How different from Czech Sunday afternoon tables with home baked steaming babovka’s and apple strudels that are being eaten in large quantities until the plate is empty!
Beer: For my first Dutch business lunch, I ordered a small beer to help swallowing my sandwich (as one would do on a sunny day). I haven’t noticed much of the surprised faces around me but my (American-Irish) boss explained to me later that this is really not done in NL… Oh by the way: a regular beer here would be about 2/3 of a small beer in Czech. The idea of drinking a pint of beer in one go makes people laugh. Even though I add my birth place is Pilsen.
Hm, rereading what I wrote, my findings mostly consider food. Maybe the differences are less cultural and more of a culinary nature. Lets see if I can find differences elsewhere as well:
Sports that are funny to us (korfball) are not funny to Dutch (they invented it!). On the other hand, Dutch cannot stop laugh at cycle ball (kolová). Other things are not what they seem either: Hockey does not mean ice hockey here but field hockey. Skating does not mean figure skating but speed skating.
So how about the differences you’ve noticed yourselves?