I’ve spent a year now talking about all the real, tangible benefits of living in the Netherlands, like reasonable health care, achievable education, and easy access to Europe. I’ve talked about high-minded concepts like freedom and community, and practical ideas like doing business in world markets. It’s high time I talked about some of the intangible benefits of living here, that contribute to the overall experience the Dutch call “gezellig.”
For starters, there’s the weather. People here like to complain about the weather, but I actually appreciate the fact that it’s rainy and cold much of the time. Bad weather makes good weather seem like great weather, which is why when the sun does manage to shine, everyone in town drops everything to bask in it. Unlike the nicer regions of the globe, global warming can only make things better here. Worried about rising water levels? Two words: beachfront property.
People complain about the food here, but as an American, it’s actually a huge improvement. Unhealthy food makes life healthier. No need to drive through for a bucket of Colonel and a pint of dipping gravy when you can pull your bike up to a FEBO and get a tube of deep fried gravy to fix that gravy jones faster than you can say “black tar heroin.”
I hate to say this, but the Dutch are such nerds that being here is like being normal. It’s not just the liters of milk being passed around at raves. The country is full of smart women, which produces tangible diversity, but also has the intangible benefit that said women are all the more accepting of smart men. Dutch women love nerds. There, I said it.
But the best thing about living here, the absolute best thing, is that April Fools’ Day is actually illegal in the Netherlands. During the big speech reforms of the early ’90s it was decided that the level of tangible harm and public annoyance places it on the “hard jokes” side of the line. This from the country that allows a comedy club dedicated entirely to jokes about blowing up Chicago.