Okay, so I moved to the Netherlands to experience the Dutch way of life. The typical Dutch lifestyle with “gezelligheid” (coziness).
And the Netherlands is still a very cozy country, but will Dutch culture withstand the changes brought on by the infamous coronavirus?
I know you’re thinking the same thing about where you live right now.
In the Netherlands, as of early/mid-June, the coronavirus situation seems to have calmed down a bit. Which means that both the people and the government jumped at the chance of reopening the schools, restaurants, cafés, and bars in the city.
So things have been open since June 1st. With some pretty interesting changes.
And it really made me wonder even more about how we’re going to start viewing everyday life in the near future.
Doesn’t matter where you live, the things we once considered normal, may turn out to be quite strange given what we, collectively as a human race, have experienced.
I’m an American living in the Netherlands. The US is experiencing some non-coronavirus related issues now as well, so I’m going to leave America’s problems aside for now.
On the other hand, the Netherlands is very much focused on recovering from the impact of the virus.
Although things are better now, the country still needs to take precautions to prevent the future spreading of the coronavirus.
Will the COVID-19 precautions stay with us even after the virus is gone?
Here are some things that are different in the Netherlands right now. These things are also probably changing in other parts of the world, but I can tell you, the Dutch are having to ADJUST to this shift.
Because there are things about Dutch culture that do not mesh with keeping social distance.
#1 Appointments at Cafés and Terrasjes
The Dutch have many great qualities. They love making things extremely cute— like in their cute cafes, but they are also impatient and don’t like their rules so much.
They do not like waiting. Or being told what to do.
Which means that the government telling Dutch people that they need to sit a meter and a half away from each other or telling them that they need to make reservations before going out to eat or have a beer IS JUST NOT COOL.
But that’s what has happened.
Although, if you think about it, the Dutch **like** to plan out their social calendar. So why they’re so hot and bothered about needing to make a reservation before going out is beyond me. I mean, you did know that you were seeing Jan Willem on this random Tuesday evening three months ago, didn’t you?
But that’s just not what the Dutch do. They like to simply go to a “terrasje” (outdoor cafe) without giving it a second thought. It’s too much work to make a reservation.
Not to mention that the bars and cafés are totally clueless about how to even get started with having reservations. The websites are not up to date, they is no mention of reserving seats to be found ANYWHERE, and many of these places claim to take reservations over Facebook, but they forget to check their messages!
I get it. Facebook is old news. But why are you breaking my heart along with these promises? I long for my weekend brunches.
And I’ve heard mixed feelings from Dutchies about the new situation. Being “gezellig” is very important to them, and something about a reservation just isn’t very gezellig.
At the same time, reserving seats is a convenient thing to do. So a part of me actually wonders whether making reservations will now become a thing the Dutch do more often.
It seems to blend in with the rest of how the Dutch like to do things.
And now, especially since many places are making sure there is a system in place to take reservations— well, why not?
#2 More Food Take Out and Delivery?
About 3 years ago, when I was spending the summer in Amsterdam with my girlfriend Sara, who is Dutch, I had a craving to order in. She didn’t know how that would work in the Netherlands, since the now very popular servicw ThuisBerzorgd wasn’t really a thing back then. Neither was Uber Eats.
A part of having a nice, gezellig time in the Netherlands is actually going ot a place to enjoy the food. Getting food to go isn’t as nice.
And frankly, here in the Netherlands it often doesn’t taste that great either. I have no idea why.
In recent times, of course, home deliveries and take out for meals has become more common.
But no where near as common as it became during the COVID-19 lockdown. Restaurants literally had to figure things out from scratch. They had to buy containers, disposable cutlery, and set up a system to place orders.
Many restaurants were also delivering food on bicycles.
Can it get any more Dutch?
My favorite experience ordering food during the lockdown was when Sara and I ordered Easter brunch, and the delivery person brought a bottle of champagne that he popped open upon arrival, just to serve us a glass. Isn’t that cute?
But since the whole food delivery and take out thing was quite uncommon before COVID, I wonder if now it will be more of an option. Will the Dutch give in to becoming like us lazy Americans and ordering in?
#3 Working from Home
And finally, I have not been able to take the train in to work over the past three months.
It makes sense, the world was being attacked by a fucking pandemic.
So for the last three months, I’ve been working from home. And I have gotten used to working from home.
Working from home was truly something that both employees and companies had to get used to when the lockdown began. But the question is, have we gotten used to it yet?
This is obviously not a thing that just the Netherlands will have to consider. And there are so many questions that need to be answered in order to determine whether working from home will be the new normal.
In fact, not just working from home, but working remotely, even.
Do employees need to fly out to the client site now? Is that better for everyone involved, and of course, better for the environment?
Is reporting to the office Every. Single. Day. just too old fashioned? Were employees just as productive working from home, once they got over the initial shock of the situation?
I just don’t know.
Do people want to go back to work?
I for one am extremely curious to see how we will move forward from this change that we have collectively experienced worldwide.
Very interesting point about the lack of reservation habits! Indeed, you would think that because the Dutch love to make their plans in advance, it makes perfect sense to call and reserve the table and only then to write down the appointment details in the calendar 🙂