Living in a Dutch suburb
Ah, suburbs… Moms pushing prams, kids riding their bikes to school, tree lined avenues, and gender confused teens trying to get noticed by dressing like Dracula or Mortitia Adams.
Yes, this is the life in a Dutch suburb. To be honest, nothing much really goes on there. Everyday is the same routine, with the same people, same tv-programmes, and the same grocery store.
Actually, the suburbs in Holland look like quaint little medieval towns. Especially the centre’s. They all have old churches, three hundred year old buildings and lots of trees, bushes and bike paths. When you do get to the outskirts of the suburbs, you actually find yourself in the middle of nowhere surrounded by farmlands. It’s pretty amazing considering how small the Netherlands actually is!
Now, when I first came here, I was in the habit of quickly stepping into my car and driving to the nearest grocery store or one of my friend’s houses. Here in Holland, that’s a luxury. When you want to go somewhere, you have to take…wait for it….the bike. Yes, the thing with 2 wheels, brakes, a light, and a bell (which can be seen as the official noise-maker of Amsterdam). This was a big adjustment for me, seeing that I haven’t ridden a bike since I was in grade school, and added to that, the people here ride on the wrong side of the road (fight me all you want, but the LEFT side is in fact the RIGHT side people!). I can still remember my first time on the bike here. We were on out way to the ‘stadje’, and it was a clear sunny day, people jogging, dogs barking…and a little whiff of cow poop in the air. So, since getting the damn thing to stand up wasn’t struggle enough, I had to actually get on it. Wiggling from side to side as I rode in the small alley, I thought to myself ‘hey, this isn’t TOO bad’. Then I ran it into the wall.
One scraped knee and bended seat later, we were on our way to the shops. I must’ve looked like I escaped the mental institution because halfway through, my knuckles were white with holding the steer, I was going in a zigzag motion because I couldn’t hold my bike steady, and every time a car drove by I thought I was going to die…
So how’s that for neurotic…
Forgetting about my embarrassing bike incident, let’s talk about old people. In a Dutch suburb, they’re everywhere. Walking inhumanly slow when you’re in a hurry, telling you about how it was in ye olden days before fire was invented, throwing their walking stick at you when you almost ran them over with your bike (I swear that was an accident). Yes, the caption for Dutch suburbs should read: ‘Old people, dying on a park bench near YOU’.
But with old, you get young. Coming from a city, I had no idea how these kids survived day to day in such a normal, monotonous place. Well I did, until I discovered Saturday night in the local café. Now, here’s how the Dutch do it: you get on your bike, rake up all the friends you have and go to the nearest one’s house who’s parents are away for the weekend (or just don’t care). When you get there, try to squeeze in as many drinking games as possible to get stumpdrunk, and then ATTEMPT to ride your bike all the way to the café…stumpdrunk. Party till 6:30 am, go home, and sleep the whole Sunday. Yes, this is how teens survive every week.
They also go out to the big cities like Amsterdam, but nothing beats some good old-fashioned small town café’s. And if someone does something embarrassing/scandalous, it will be the topic of conversation till next Saturday.
Ok ok, but living in a suburb isn’t all bad. There can be some good stuff as well, like not having to bike more that 10 minutes to your friend’s house, the noise level is close to zero compared to the big cities, and of course, the gossip is way juicier! One thing that has really struck me with Dutch girls though, is how (by lack of a better word) bitchy they actually are. I know girls all around the world are like that, however here, for some reason; the claws come out twice as long. But as I said, that ensures for extra juicy gossip stories, and a prime seat in a Days of our Lives-type drama. Ooooh, the agony (and ecstasy) of it all!
That was just a little insiders look at life in a ordinary, normal, plain Dutch suburb. If I had my choice I’d rather be living in Amsterdam, where’s there’s much more to do and see, but some people prefer living in solitude, riding their bikes, surrounded by old people and gender-bending teens. It really depends on the person, but whatever your taste is, one fact is certain, Dutch suburbs are not for the faint hearted! (Except if your 80, then you fit in quite nicely)