Dutch culture

20 fears of a repatriating Dutch-American

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While American expat Brooke prepares for the big move home, a new fear has emerged: how many Dutch faux pas will she commit in the US?

It takes a long time to get used to life in a foreign country. But after three years as an American expat living in the Netherlands and overcoming the small expat fears, I now have a very different fear: What will life back home be like?

With only a few months left before our repatriation, I’m starting to worry that we will commit some major faux pas after moving back to the US.

My repatriation fears as a Dutch-American expat 

In no particular order:

  1. I’ll be that lady who kisses everyone – and not just once, but three times!

  1. My kids will get in trouble because they nonchalantly ask their teacher for a 'rubber' in the middle of class.

  1. I will wear orange pants to the neighbourhood coffee morning.

  1. And if that’s not bad enough, I will also be known as a close-talker. That whole concept of personal space, can someone explain it to me again?

  1. I will ride my bike… in the rain… in heels and a dress… holding an umbrella.

  1. My kids will get in trouble for singing the uncensored versions of popular songs on the playground (they don’t do censored versions in the Netherlands).

  1. Heck, I could even get a call from the school principal about my children trying to make political statements in class – they might abstain from saying the Pledge of Alliance or singing America the Beautiful simply because they’ve never done it before and don’t actually know the words.

  1. I will be that annoying car in front of you that doesn’t turn right on the red light.

  1. My kids will go crazy and start shouting and singing (uncensored songs) the first 12 times they encounter the cereal aisle of an American grocery store.

  1. Around the same time, I will have a breakdown in the grocery store and leave empty handed because there were just too many decisions to make. But on the way out, I will wish the cashier a fijne dag.

  1. When my son orders a grilled cheese at a restaurant, and they ask him what kind of cheese he wants, he will answer, “Young.”

  1. And when hubby orders a drink, he will ask for a Spa Blauw. And my kids will attempt to order ranja and Fristi.

  1. We will forget that it’s considered crude to ask for 'the toilet'.

  1. At the end of the happy birthday song, one of us will inadvertently shout, “Hip! Hip!”

  1. We will leave our curtains open much longer than is socially acceptable.

  1. One of my boys will volunteer to play football, and have no idea what he just got himself into.

  1. My kids will get ridiculed for using words like plaster (Band Aid), ice lolly (Popsicle), rubbish (garbage), jumper (sweater) and full stop (period).

  1. At the beach or swimming pool or after a sporting event, my boys will change clothes right out in the open because they assume nobody cares.

  1. The fries will be awful.

  1. And I’m afraid we’ll miss Dutch directness. And square-shaped trees. Cobblestone streets. And comically steep staircases. Beautiful, cheap flowers everywhere. And the best bike paths known to humankind. And stroopwafels.

Brooke Miller Hall / Expatica

Brooke Miller Hall Brooke spends her days butchering the Dutch language, wrangling kids and hunting for mini-marshmallows. She's from Wisconsin where she worked as a journalist, corporate editor, blogger and aspiring screenwriter. You can find her blog at Brooke Miller Hall.

Thumbnail credit: 24oranges.nl.
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3 Comments To This Article

  • carrico posted:

    on 7th October 2015, 15:56:36 - Reply

    Lolling in Montavilla. Here's a mistake we made after 2 years in Berlin/Europe: Assuming Americans would be interested in our European perspective. Usually we just got blank looks. I suggest hooking up with other expats, aliens in their native countries.
  • Tanya posted:

    on 7th October 2015, 15:57:21 - Reply

    These are great! Can't wait for your return to the U.S.
  • Pat posted:

    on 7th October 2015, 17:28:49 - Reply

    Load up on stroopwafels for sure but do not worry about bringing Dutch customs home. After 13 years I am still trying to live a Dutch life in Ohio. Best of luck!