your questions answered…accountants’ list style

Now that we have been here a little while, we are getting a lot questions about how it feels to live here in Den Haag in comparison with our lives at home. I thought it would be appropriate to use our list making expertise to answer your questions. My apologies in advance…this could be a long one!

1. What differences have you noticed that you were impressed or surprised by?

a. most people seem to easily switch from Dutch to English when they realize you don’t speak Dutch and they are happy to do so, generally.
b. grocery prices are really reasonable.
c. people have the ability to cycle in any attire, any shoes, with large amounts of things in tow (including children), and can talk/text and watch for traffic while doing so. It’s quite impressive.
d. there are amazingly delicious baked goods everywhere and the Dutch consume a lot of them.
e. they have sparkling iced tea, and it is wonderful!
f. the weather has been fantastic other than a couple sudden downpours (mid 60’s or 70’s).
g. cafe’s are EVERYWHERE…and they all have outdoor seating.
h. we have found numerous gelato places/stands, and it is cheap!
i. the flowers/bouquets here are stunning and also reasonably priced.
j. you can wear basically anything around here and not feel out of place. Interesting mix of styles.
k. the public transportation system is GREAT! Trains seem to go everywhere we want to be.  There is even a great iPhone app in English to help us get around.
l. the security for their online banking/online transactions is really good, yet easy to use…some interesting additional steps required.
m. people drive really nice cars, and they are not all itty bitty.
n. there are a surprising amount of American brands here…like M&M’s and Dove soaps.

2. What difficulties/frustrations have you had in adjusting to your new home? This is probably the longest list, because like any move, it takes time to figure things out. This is exponentially more difficult with language barriers!

a. buying stamps and finding a nearby post office in order to mail things home.
b. tending to our blistering feet because we are walking a TON.
c. trying to purchase random things…some examples include: garlic salt, aluminum foil, and an ironing board.
d. delays in receiving our home shipment meant wearing the same set of clothing for 5 weeks in a row.
e. receiving letters in the mail in Dutch and having to Google translate multiple paragraphs.
f. watching many of the same television episodes of the same shows every day.
g. attempting to follow our navigation system (in Dutch).
h. trying to figure out the new washer and dryer and remaining patient with it’s slowness.
i. the peanut butter is not as good. Boo.
j. paying full fare for public transportation because we didn’t have a debit card yet or €15 in change to get the pass.
k. having to ask for English menus when we go out for dinner.
l. buying movie tickets and crossing our fingers the movie is in English (it was).
m. light switches are opposite…up = off and down = on.
n. remembering to have change handy in case we need to use a public restroom.
o. getting accustom to the fast paced packing of our own groceries in reusable bags brought from home (otherwise we end up buying them at the store).
p. 3 words: microwave/oven combination. (In Celsius.)
q. not having a cellular phone/Internet available at any time (still working on it).
r. setting up a Slingbox to watch TV from home, only to find out that the overnight paid programming is on during the day.
s. having to think of time using the 24-hour clock (military style).
t. getting use to the lack of the “cold beverage” concept.
u. coffee is not a to-go item here (most things aren’t).
v. store hours are not all that convenient.
w. driving with extreme bicycle traffic is hazardous.
x. nervously plugging things in for the first time with the fear of blowing them up.

What things will you miss from back in the U.S. of A.?. Clearly we will miss our friends and family back home more than anything! We are finding that life continues to be somewhat similar, but we will miss having our peeps here to share in our new experiences. There are a few other things that we will be glad to get home to in a couple years…

a. Target
b. fruity candy (starbursts, skittles, laffy taffy). I have found some gummies though.
c. college football season (especially true for the hubs)
d. pizza delivery
f. Chipotle
g. hot dogs and grilling in general
h. 100.3 fm, The Bus (classic rock)
i. easy and convenient recycling

What things are you happy to leave behind/won’t miss?

a. driving (maybe I will change my mind when it gets colder)
b. fast-paced, hectic schedules
c. eating out constantly and consuming large portions
d. political campaign advertisements
e. weather extremes: cold, snowy winters and hot, humid summers
f. BC and I having separate homes and things…happy to have “our” home!

So there you have it, folks. The master lists…one and a half months into our adventure. I am anxious to see how the what we miss/what we don’t lists change over time.

Hope all is well for everyone back home. Special shout-out to the Cyclones for their victory over the hawkeyes…wooooot! We were watching and cheering, despite the 9:30 pm kick-off. 🙂

Until next time,