Never talk about Religion or Politics…so who do I ask?

I don’t know.

A rule of etiquette –in business, at the dinner table, in the hairdressers etc—is “never talk about religion or politics.” These subjects are highly contentious and usually result in heated arguments and awkward silences. In England I work in British politics. I have done since I finished university. Its the only thing I have been trained as an adult to do so as you can imagine it tends to be the topic of conversation at most of my business meetings, dinners and general conversations upon telling someone what I do for a living. First dates pivot on the topic and from my experience if you date someone who does the same job theres no escaping it and if you date someone detached from it they never understand quite how demanding the job actually is. You do loose most Saturday mornings, there is always at least one late night meeting each week and a black tie dinner at least once a month. thingsnottotalkaboutonyourfirstdate-nevertalkaboutpoliticsandreligion

So my plea is to you. How does the Dutch Political System work? Nobody has ever explained it to me and I wouldn’t know who to ask, my Dutch friends aren’t really that actively involved to answer the questions I have. I’ve seen this booklet Politics in the Netherlands 2013 and had a flick through but its very complex and not all that an inspiring to read. Do you know any good blogs that explain it (in English obviously), or any idiot friendly websites? All I understand of Dutch politics is that it is complex, the Monarchy are actively involved, at least a little more than ours, they are more involved in the European Parliament than we are and there are lots of ‘Kamers’!

Can you help?

Where do I get my Dutch News From?

I have been writing a lot more opinion pieces lately. In the dull time between Level 2 finishing and Level 3 starting I haven’t had all that much to talk about. I’ve had quite a few people contact me via my blog recently and I must say its been lovely to read all of your comments. One of the major things I get asked is ‘Where I get my ‘Dutch Info’ from?’ Living in England and not being fully integrated into the Dutch way of thinking, or indeed having access to Dutch New channels it can be difficult to get the topical news of the day. There are a few online tv channels but they aren’t great. Therefore I thought today I would share with you just where my inspiration and information comes from. I’m not talking about the blogs I follow, more the news sites and twitter feeds I keep a check on.

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10:10 Ten Dutch Movies I Want To See

Movies, I love them. For me its about escaping into a little world for a few hours and forgetting about real life. I love a good movie. I cant tell you how annoyed I am when I go to see a film and its rubbish. It totally deflates me! futurama-fry-meme-generator-not-sure-if-don-t-understand-or-just-shit-film-f636dcToday I am going to talk about ten Dutch films (in no particular order) that I want to see. Whenever I am in Holland we always make time for a trip to the Bioscoop. We always watch and English film with Dutch subtitles. Which makes sense seens as I only started learning Dutch 8 months ago!!

  1. Hartenstraat – When I brought Mannenharten I wanted this one too but they didn’t have it. This looks like a super funny movie, a feel good, easy watching kind of comedy set in Amsterdam. I read and online review where it called the film ‘a sparkling, romantic feelgood film’. It is your stereotypical rom-com – everyone is looking for love, there are young people, old people, a womanizer, a single parent. The story is about Daan who is not looking for love until Katje comes into his café. I’ve mentioned seeing this movie before I am sure of it but I STILL haven’t seen it! Its set in Holland, the music is good, the cast are all beautiful…win win win I think! I believe there is a link on youtube to allow you to watch the entire movie but I’m not going to share that because I am sure its illegal ;)

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10:10 – Things people ask you when you tell them you’re learning Dutch

I could quite comfortably write reams and reams on this topic therefore I thought limiting myself wasn’t a bad idea. In this post I am going to talk about 5 English responses and 5 Dutch responses. These are genuine responses I have had from people when you tell them that you are learning Dutch.

  • English Responses

  1. “Why?” – Standard English response to anything that is out of the ordinary. “Why do you want to do that? / What’s the point?” Well the point is that personal development is a choice and my choice is to do it via languages.
  2. “That’s interesting.” – This is the response from any multilingual person. I’ve noticed myself start to do it when someone says they are learning Spanish or Hindi or some other exotic sounding language. I think there is a mutual understanding of the struggles of learning a language that make for a ‘That’s really interesting’ response. Maybe you can share tips or experiences of your language learning journey.
  3. “What for?” – Similar to the standard response of ‘Why?’ the ‘What for?’ people always assume there is some grand end goal. They are never happy with a response along the lines of ‘just because’. The standard expected answers are work or love. Most people think you are either learning to for work or to impress a loved one. I have still not developed a good enough come back to this kind of question.


    I dont understand the photo reference but who cares! One simply does not learn Dutch grammar!!

  4. “Is that the same as German?” <Insert here a dodgy Audi advert impression> – This frustrates me. Dutch is a Germanic language BUT it isn’t German. I was a little naive at first about Dutch as there is some cross over but almost instantly when you hear the two together Dutch is much more soft and bouncy whereas I always feel that German is a harsh sounding language.
  5. “Say something in Dutch then.” – The response of people that don’t believe you. Its almost as if these people want to catch you out. What do you say when you get asked that? I end up going a long the super predictable lines of “Hallo Goedenmorgen, ik ben Maria, Hoe gaat het met jou?” (yes that is my standard, on the spot, Dutch sentence.)

LANGUAGE! This really made me laugh!

  • Dutch Responses

  1. “Why? Everyone here speaks English”. – This is a cop-out. Most time I get this response is because some Dutchies like the fact that not many people speak their language so they can talk about you almost to your face and you’d be completely oblivious to what was going on. This is sneaky but I must admit I like it. I cant wait to go on a package holiday and overhear a Dutch family. It will feel like they are talking in a code only we know and I can give them the node! (Or not, am I getting to carried away here?).
  2. “Really? It is a super hard language to learn.” – That’s no reason not to bother though surely. Similar to response no.1 just because I don’t need it doesn’t mean its acceptable not to know the basic polite gestures.
  3. “That is really good.” – This is from the supportive Dutchies. They acknowledge the difficulty of the language like response no.2 but they appreciate the commitment to learning something that sometimes feels most unnatural.
  4. Say something in Dutch then. – Similarly to the reasons I gave for the English response the Dutch do the same only this time they really do what to catch you out and correct your poor pronunciation. I had the Dutch test of ‘say Scheveningen’ which apparently is a most scientific test to check whether or not your Dutch is actually German, or something like that. This has happened to me, around the dinner table, on more that one occasion. Or the best is when they say “Say this then…” and then judge you on your delivery of an insult to someone, the best thing in those occasions for me is that 80% of the time I know I’m saying something rude so the joke is just as much on them as it is on me!
  5. They carry on in Dutch, at lightening pace just expecting you to therefore fully understand everything that is being said by everyone like a native. There is either that response or indeed a pop quiz on all of the hard words. Similar to – response no.4. The quiz is partly malicious in the fact that they expect you to get it wrong and embarrass you (that’s normally my response. I feel the colour rising in my cheeks and all of a sudden EVERYBODY is looking at me).
Can we have a reference to Austin Powers in every post?!

Can we have a reference to Austin Powers in every post?!


This is my third article for The Dutch Review you can read the full article on their website as well as on here!

Dutch primary schools will soon be able to conduct 15% of lessons in English, French or German in an effort to boost language skills. Junior Education Minister Sander Dekker wants to extend the use of other languages following successful trials that shows young children pick up foreign languages more quickly. It’s no secret to anybody that I’m learning Dutch. I’m in my 20’s now and fitting in as many Dutch hours as possible but it’s hard!

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Dutch Primary Schools to Conduct 15% of Their Lessons in English

Dutch primary schools will soon be able to conduct 15% of lessons in English, French or German in an effort to boost language skills. Junior Education Minister Sander Dekker wants to extend the use of other languages following successful trials that shows young children pick up foreign languages more quickly. It’s no secret to anybody that I’m learning Dutch, I have been doing so now for nearly 10 months. I’m in my 20’s now and fitting in as many Dutch hours as possible but it’s hard!

I am British and went to English schools. I was never even introduced to another language until I went to secondary school when I started learning French aged 10. At age 14 I did one academic year of German, most of which I have completely forgotten (Geburtstag means Birthday right?)! Is my French any good? Meh. Well I lie; I can watch Engrenages rather well only refereeing to the subtitles occasionally and still get the gist of what’s going on. The truth of the matter is that learning a language is hard. I have talked on this topic many times on my blog, about my motivations and my methods but in actual fact, and science has proven this, learning a language from a young age improves recallmemory and future prospects. I have many friends speaking many different languages and it has set them all up really well now we in adult life.

Language dictionaries

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Vasten – My failed attempt at the 40day Lenten season!

So back on the 18th February I wrote about Vasten. I talked a bit about Lent and what I was going to ‘take up and not give up’

My plan was

…taking up “me” time. It’s one of my New Years resolutions, to have  a little time each day to be me and I am on the verge of neglecting it. So I have decided that I am going to have 1hr a day to myself. Aside from learning Dutch I don’t do anything else for myself so I’ve got a few books I am dying to get through and this will give me ample opportunity to do so. 1hr a day should see me get through at least 2 books. Here’s hoping!

Did I do it? NOPE! If my intention was to not touch a book at all for 40 days I’ve most definitely succeeded! Disgusted in myself I picked up Herman Koch’s The Dinner on Easter Monday. I will finish it, its a really good book I am just rubbish at setting time aside to read. I have noticed myself getting a little tongue tied as of late where I just can’t get the word out that I want and I put this down to not reading. As a student I always had a book on the go, however, I do feel like I have cracked the ‘work-life’ balance at the moment and I probably did achieve having an hour to my self most days. So all was not lost :)
How did you get on over Lent? Did you manage to hack it out for 40 days? Have you continued past Lent or where you glad for it to be over?

10:10 – Ten Dutch Places I Want to Visit

I like to think that I am pretty well traveled in and around The Netherlands however there are still places on my hit list, there will always been somewhere new to visit and something new to see. With my two trips for May not far away now I am hoping to tick some of these off my list.

  1. Delta Works – It is world renown and I’ve still yet to visit it. I know a lot about how the Delta Project works and the importance of it etc. but I would still like to see it for myself.
  1. Anne Frank’s House, Amsterdam – We planned to go last summer but as I’ve said before due to bad planning and an enormous queue we never managed to get any further than the same street as it.
  1. Keukenhof Gardens – I don’t know how I’ve not managed to visit here. I feel like its completely slipped the net. As a self confessed girly girl who loves flowers I am sure this is my kind of heaven waiting their patiently for me to dance around singing a homage to the Sound Of Music.
  1. Rembrandt Museum, Amsterdam
  1. Kröller-Müller Museum
  1. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

I’m not a museum bowfin at all but there are some museums you just have to visit. I didn’t visit the main ones in London until March this year! These 3 in Holland are a must and if not for the actual cultural side just to be able to say I’ve been. But then again it could end up like my visit to Paris and seeing the Louvre. I’ve seen it; I don’t need to go inside to see it.

  1. Rotterdam’s Markthal, Rotterdam – This has now opened and I haven’t made it into the city on my last few visits. This is a must for my visit in May.
  1. Waddeneilanden– I’ve heard a lot about The Frisian Islands and I would love to visit them. I know it will be very different to the Holland I am used to however I think it would be quiet an experience. The furthest north I’ve been is Amsterdam (I think! My geography is shocking at times).
  1. The Vrijthof, Maastricht – On my cultural expedition of the world I feel like museums, churches and parks are a must see in any town or country. The Vrijthof looks stunning from the outside; I can only imagine how magnificent it is on the inside!
  1. Panorama Mesdag – Again something worth being able to say ‘I’ve seen that!’ the panorama painting sounds fascinating to me. 14 meters high and about 40 meters in diameter my brain cant even begin to contemplate the magnitude of it all!

Where would you suggest I visit? What’s your favourite place in The Netherlands? Can you suggest somewhere I haven’t been?

10:10 Famous Dutch Proverbs and Expressions

Here is your second instalment of my 10:10 at 10am! See what I did there? I love little quotes and funny sayings. I equally love how much forigen speaking people use them as apposed to us English. Never have I ever come in from a storm and said ‘Its raining cats and dogs out there’ we just don’t do it. It doesn’t stop them form being funny and of course as in English every language has them that don’t quiet translate properly but the sentiment is still there. The first one I head and feel in love with was “Nou breekt mijn klomp!” translanting to ‘That breaks my wooden shoe!’ on in English ‘Well I’ll be damned’. liske95 commented on one of my posts a while back with a list of Dutch proverbs and it kept me occupied for ages and really got my thinking so I thought I’d share 10 of my favourites with you. Here they are: Continue reading