A Rotterdam lady on unnecessarily incorporating English phrases in the Dutch language.

First Impressions

First impressions after arriving in the Netherlands.

The Kiwi Has Landed

ACLU chapter flags Facebook app privacy

The Northern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has put out a campaign designed to raise awareness of the privacy implications of Facebook’s developer platform. It’s focusing specifically on the popular “quiz” applications, like “Which Cocktail Best Suits Your Personality?” and “Which Wes Anderson Movie Character Are You?” These are largely one-time-use apps that many a Facebook user clicks on and tries out with little concern.

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In the past days, I have of course been checking out Dutch television and as a result of having been away for some years, you seem more alert on all that Dutch being spoken around you. What struck me is how the English language is creeping into the Dutch use of language. Without a doubt, the English language is creeping into many others: in Latin American Spanish a car is “carro” as opposed to coche, in the Netherlands, a “tram” is a “tram,” and “jam” is “jam” whereas the Belgians have chosen to maintain the French word “confiture” (which is of course not Dutch either but French). To some extent I have never seen this as problematic and something that simply comes. What I hear at the moment however is of a different nature; Dutch phrases are being translated into the English language for no apparent reason.

A journalist for a Dutch media company was talking about “I’ve got them” instead of “ik heb ze” whilst showing some reports. A tv commercial in Dutch for some (imported) Danish feta cheese ends for no apparent reason with “closer to nature” instead of “dichter bij de natuur.” And these are just a few of the many examples I am hearing around me and especially on television. TV stars flicking in Ingelish (spelled as it would sound with a Dutch accent) and ordinary folks like you and me alike. While having a snack I said something about it to an older lady sitting next to me on the bench with whom I was having a friendly conversation, sheltered from the rain. “It’s all about trying to be interesting and like the stars.” This very down to earth Rotterdam lady further commented. “Stars, pfff you what stars are young man?” Stars are what the builders saw that worked their sorry butts of trying to rebuild this city after the War. That’s what I call an achievement, that’s what I call stars. Any girl with tits an a nice smile and any boy can play in a movie.  But our real stars built our city after it was bombarded to shreds. And they did not need all that silly stuff. Less talking more sleeves up and work hard, you don’t have time to think about how you can use all that silly stuff.”

This probably does not come across half a great as it sounded coming from the mouth of this nice Rotterdam lady. And just before I finished my snack she looked at me and said as only someone from Rotterdam can say it: “You don’t look like you are of retirement age; so what’s keeping you here on this bench? It is time to finish that foreign thing (my bara), roll up your sleeves and get to work again. Come on; don’t get to comfortable on this bench.” When I explained the situation she allowed to even finish my drink.



When they say the world moves on with or without you, I personally never thought too much about it. That is, until I arrived in the Netherlands again.

From landscape to

To city scape (neighbourhood in Rotterdam)

It is sort of strange that when I arrived in New Zealand I craved for something like a city buzz which, with the exception of the occasional boy racer and police, ambulance and fire truck, is basically missing in most parts of town. I have to admit that hearing city noises and an apparent 24 hour buzz does have its quality. At the same time, and of course temporarily, you realize how used you get to a lot of space and a possibility to walk into the garden even if only for a cigarette. So far, the balcony, feels like a trap when you are used to a garden. At times it feels like being a lion or tiger in a cage, going up and forth.

Red Tape and Bank Cards
Used to the relatively laid back approach of Kiwis, I found all the Dutch ways, rules, procedures quite overwhelming. Simple things like opening a bank account, an internet account, required more red tape issues than anticipated. It may well be because Dutch still is my first language, but faced with all the red tape and more importantly making the first mistakes with it, I found that service levels are quite low. I had the feeling at times that I was being treated like I was some sort of mental patient.

At the same time it is not appreciated when you explain that apparently logical matter for a Dutchy are not as evident anymore when you’ve been in places to actually live there. Getting the essentials organized evolves around an Eftpos card, it is almost like  credit cards are non-existent here, and even for basic things like an internet connection: no DUTCH eftpos card, no subscription. So ok, I went for the prepaid version, yet topping my account up will still require getting of the couch and go to a sales point cause …. you guessed it, online top up can only be done with a DUTCH bank card. The DUTCH bank card seems to be at the center of all your options and possibilities: THE SYMBOL OF UNBRIDLED INTEGRATION.

Traveling public transport was like being shot into a new time and space:Smart cards for this, chip cards for that, a “strippen card for the bus” excuses that chip cards were not available for certain buses yet, gates, touch screen ticket machines, shuttles that looked like a Volkswagen Beetle but didn’t require a driver.

It can’t help myself, I sooooooo enjoy all the yummy food and snacks available around every corner: Surinam Baras, Indonesian Chicken and Vegetarian Resoles, a variety of fish, cooked, smoked and even raw (herring), shoarma (Egyptian grilled meat, lamb or chicken) and my all time favorite, DUTCH FARMHOUSE CHEESE just like that or with dark bread or crackers hmmm.  And my favorite brand of soda: Fernandes.

I saw a good friend earlier this week, who told me he should lose some weight cause he gained same since being in the Netherlands again. Well it is not hard imagine that you’ll end up gaining weight with so much temptations around.

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The Kiwi has landed

After a 36 hour trip I arrived in the Netherlands. Still busy getting things sorted but (finally) managed to get an internet connection again.

Posted via email from John Dierckx