As an American expat nestled in the heart of the Netherlands, you have probably come to embrace the rhythmic clatter of bicycles, the serene canals, and the quaint coffee shops that define Dutch living. However, amidst the charm, there are moments when the heart yearns for a slice of Americana. If you’re on the cusp of your Dutch journey or have recently unpacked your life here, you might find these ten quintessentially American comforts tugging at your memories.
24/7 Convenience Stores
In the U.S., round-the-clock stores are a staple, offering everything from midnight snacks to emergency essentials. The Netherlands’ strict store hours emphasize a more structured lifestyle, often leaving night owls and last-minute shoppers wishing for the American convenience of 24/7 availability.
The American Breakfast
Dutch breakfasts are charmingly modest but often leave expats craving the indulgent, heartier American breakfast spread. The ability to find a stack of pancakes, bacon, or eggs any style at all hours is a missed luxury, making those brunch moments back home even more nostalgic.
Vast Open Spaces and National Parks
The U.S. is known for its expansive natural landscapes and awe-inspiring national parks, offering endless exploration and adventure. The compactness of the Netherlands, with its structured beauty, sometimes makes expats miss the vast, untamed wilderness and the sense of freedom it embodies.
The U.S. customer service ethos often goes above and beyond to keep customers happy, a practice embedded in American culture. Dutch straightforwardness, while efficient, can sometimes feel abrupt to those used to American service standards, where the customer’s contentment is paramount.
The ubiquity of air conditioning in American homes and businesses is deeply missed during the occasional Dutch heatwave. The milder climate in the Netherlands means AC is not a standard amenity, leaving expats longing for the cool refuge they’re accustomed to in the States.
Spacious Parking Lots
The convenience of large, accommodating parking spaces is something Americans take for granted until faced with the narrower, more compact parking scenarios in Dutch cities. The adjustment to smaller spaces and the scarcity of parking can be a surprising challenge for those used to the ample parking lots back home.
The fervor for American sports like football, basketball, and baseball is a significant part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. In the Netherlands, the lack of communal sports viewing and time zone differences can dilute the excitement, making expats nostalgic for the collective enthusiasm and shared experiences of game days back home.
Despite the high English proficiency in the Netherlands, the prevalence of Dutch in official settings, media, and everyday life can pose unexpected challenges. Expats often miss the ease and familiarity of navigating all aspects of life in their native language, highlighting the comfort of linguistic ubiquity in the U.S.
The clear guidelines for tipping in the U.S. remove ambiguity, making it a straightforward gesture of appreciation. The subtler Dutch tipping customs can perplex Americans, who are used to more explicit tipping norms, adding an unexpected layer to social transactions.
Hypermarkets and U.S. Brands
The convenience of hypermarkets like Walmart and Costco, offering a vast array of goods under one roof, is distinctly American. The absence of these one-stop shops, along with specific U.S. brands like Trader Joe’s, Bath & Body Works, and In-N-Out Burger, can make shopping in the Netherlands feel limited and leave expats missing the comfort of their favorite American products and the vast selection they’re used to.
While adapting to the Dutch way of life brings its own set of challenges, it’s the richness of new experiences and cultural nuances that make the expat journey worthwhile. Amidst these adjustments, there’s a beacon of support for American expats: Blue Umbrella. Specializing in U.S. tax services for expats, Blue Umbrella offers support for the streamlined procedure to catchup on your U.S. tax obligations, ensuring you can focus on embracing the Dutch lifestyle to its fullest.