After living in the Netherlands for a bit over five years, I’ve dropped some “American” habits. Whether you think they are good or bad habits is your opinion. I just see it as adapting to local life and also, probably just getting older. I’m not going to talk about the typical things like not driving and working long hours because those topics are already covered enough. So these are some things that I no longer do as an American living in the Netherlands.
1. Eating on the Go
I used to buy a bagel or sandwich and eat it while walking around the city or whatever. I no longer do that. Now, I have to sit down, enjoy my meal, and then move on with my life. Imagine how many times I nearly avoided choking on my food. But in all seriousness, I do think it’s healthier to eat while sitting and focusing on eating.
Sometimes, I do walk and eat, but it’s only in specific situations, like when at a food market or something like that. And even then, I’ll try to find a place to take a moment and eat the food before moving on. I also find it quite strange to go back to the USA and eat in the car. It just feels weird to me now.
2. Eating Just to Eat
On the topic of food, I no longer go out to eat at a proper restaurant just for the sake of eating. If I’m going out to eat, it’s going to be with a purpose: enjoying quality time with my friends and family. I used to go to a restaurant with people, scarf down my food, and then move on to the next place. I really don’t like doing that anymore. If I can’t relax and enjoy, I’d rather eat my food at home and do something else with whomever I’m hanging out with.
3. Grabbing Expensive Coffees
I’m quite embarrassed to calculate how much I’ve spent on coffee in the past. I could have purchased a coffee machine or just drank the coffee at work, even though it wasn’t very good. If I’m staying local, I will almost always drink my coffee at home and stick to just running errands or whatever. I won’t grab a coffee on the way. I have an amazing coffee machine that makes delicious coffee. Why would I spend 5 euros on my soy milk latte? Plus, I used to be a barista, so I can make a pretty mean latte.
4. Taking Work Because It Pays
The American in me wants to say yes to every project because it’s more money. But as someone who has worked for some terrible employers and with terrible clients, I won’t say yes to every project anymore. By the way, I’m a freelance writer, editor, Dutch-to-English translator, and content creator.
If a potential client keeps emailing me over and over again without giving me a chance to respond or puts tons of ??? or !!! after sentences, I’ll usually politely decline the project. The same goes for potential clients who want to pay half my going rate. If you aren’t willing to meet my rates, then I’m not the right freelancer for your project. I’m not willing to work with people who aren’t willing to respect me, my work, and my time.
5. Saying Yes to Everyone & Everything
I have a hard time saying no to people when they ask to hang out. I also feel like I want to be a good friend who consistently spends time with her friends. But sometimes I just can’t and need time to myself, time for work, time to get shit done, or time to spend with my partner. So now I’m way more careful with my time and what I say yes to. I don’t need to say yes to everything and everyone. People who love you should understand that.
6. Traveling Long Distances
I was recently asked if I wanted to go to Albania for one night to explore one of the big cities. I said no. Would I have said yes a few years ago? Absolutely! But I now don’t find traveling all the way there and back fun just to explore a city for such a short period of time. The same goes for the Netherlands/Belgium.
Traveling 30 minutes each way now feels a lot longer to me than it did when I lived in the USA. It’s probably because the Netherlands is a tiny country compared to the USA. Americans are used to traveling longer distances. I will travel longer than 30 minutes if I have a good reason to. But I won’t do it just because someone asked. I need a good reason to spend that much time traveling.
There Are Many More
While I’m going to end this blog post here, don’t worry; there are many more things I no longer do as an American living in the Netherlands. I just have to get back to my paying work. I love writing for my blog, but unfortunately, it doesn’t pay my bills. I appreciate you reading this blog post. Be sure to check out the Scribble a Dream podcast.
What are some things you no longer do as a foreigner living abroad?