I spent 8 days in the capital of the Netherlands, exploring the city from South to North and East to West, by foot, bike and tram and working from a hub in the heart of the city. After long one-to-one conversations with locals and expats and daily observations on life and working style while having lunches, going to events, and meeting up people, I got to some conclusions that I’d like to share:
1. Dutchmen are fluent and perfect English speakers: I interacted with a lot of people, ranging from train drivers, street passengers or shop assistants, to students, business consultants and entrepreneurs, and they all speak English incredibly correct, relaxed and with great accent.
2. Buildings are wonderful and very well-preserved. I don’t know how they do it, but almost all the areas that I’ve walked through, are filled with unique houses in all shapes and sizes that are beautifully designed, with large glass windows and pretty accessories at the entrance. I love that!
3. Amsterdam is a great place for soul-practices. I did research on yoga and meditation centers and I found out that there are many places for inner peace, especially in the Northern part of the city. I actually went to one of these myself, where I met one of the meditation teachers from a meditation centre and I was impressed by their professionalism on meditation practice and knowledge about consciousness, mindfulness, and peace.
4. Dutch people are helpful, polite and kind to foreigners. They helped me with positive attitude when asked for directions, and most of them answered my emails quickly, in an assertive and polite manner. People from Boven de Balie, the hub I worked in, were super welcoming and contributed a lot to my positive stay in Amsterdam. I value this kind of approach a lot as I’ve always been deprived of such luxury for years, while constantly seeking for it.
5. You get inspiration from their interior design. Most probably because of the unpredictable weather that can change from sunny to windy or rainy in a matter of seconds, Dutch people designed creative indoor spaces- cafes, homes, working centres. Usually they can be described by simplicity and clarity, adding elements that usually don’t mix with each other, which reflects a creative, open and tolerant society.
6. Dutch people are educated and well-skilled. Most of them were involved in high-quality education and do a lot of travelling, which is obvious by the way they interact in a conversation, answer questions, speak a foreign language, listen to the interlocutor, maintain and promote their country, and do customer services. They are taught in school how to use learning and connect knowledge with real life cases, which I find it valuable in today’s education systems.
7. The weather is terrible. On the weekend it was only cloudy and cold, but one day it was super windy (50km/h), so I didn’t dare to go out. Despite all these, they still rode their bikes. On most days it pours down and it’s, of course, “uber” windy.
8. Dutch people draw clear boundaries between worktime and breaks. When I worked in the hub, I noticed that while working, there was silence and when it was lunch time, they immediately started to chat with each other in a friendly and relaxed way as if they had not worries.
9. They need time to befriend. So far, I have the impression, after hearing some stories and getting involved myself that it takes time to commit to personal relationships. Even if they might be very friendly with new people at first meet-up, they rarely keep contact, or initiate another one. Maybe they stick to their old relationships, or enjoy much spending time alone.
10. Huge admiration for their sport culture. No matter what the weather is like, Dutch people ride their bikes with such a grace that caught my attention and actually made me take the bike and spend 2 days doing bike-sightseeing. They have the habit of going to the gym to work out and many run in the parks.
11. Positivity is at its home. I didn’t see stressed and worried people, but instead they work and live gracefully and mindfully, paying attention to what is around them, smiling to strangers and forgiving confused passengers who cross chaotically on the bike ways.
It’s not entirely accurate to characterize a culture, but according to my experience and research, Amsterdam seems the place to be in if your core values are independence, balance, tolerance, excellence, well-being and freedom. It’s definitely worth visiting and even more, learning from Dutch culture and lifestyle. Knowing that there are people who live mindfully is a great inspiration and empowerment to keep believing in my kind of lifestyle and keep creating it.