How living in the Netherlands changed me

Two years ago, I embarked on a journey that would not only broaden my horizons but also transform my entire perspective on life. Moving to the Netherlands turned out to be more than just a change of scenery; it became a profound experience that altered the very fabric of my existence. In this article, I’ll share how living in the Netherlands has taught me to slow down, appreciate the smaller joys of life, embrace a healthier lifestyle, and strike a balance between work and leisure.

Slowing down
The first lesson The Netherlands taught me was the art of slowing down. In a country where bicycles outnumber people, the pace of life is notably different. Rush hours are replaced by leisurely rides along picturesque canals, and the constant hum of hurried footsteps is replaced by the rhythmic whirring of bicycle wheels. The Dutch have mastered the delicate dance of taking their time, savouring the present moment, and appreciating the journey as much as the destination.

Work-life balance
The Dutch are renowned for their commitment to a healthy work-life balance, and this philosophy has seeped into my own life. In the Netherlands, work is a means to live, not the other way around. The 9-to-5 grind is replaced by flexible schedules, and the importance of downtime is emphasized. By witnessing and adopting this approach, I’ve found a harmonious equilibrium between my professional responsibilities and personal life. The result? A more fulfilled, less stressed version of myself.

Living a healthier lifestyle
From vibrant outdoor markets offering fresh produce to the ubiquitous presence of bicycles as a mode of transportation, the Netherlands is a haven for healthy living. The Dutch prioritize wholesome, locally sourced food, and the prevalence of cycling as a daily activity promotes an active lifestyle. Embracing these habits has had a positive impact on my overall well-being. I find joy in selecting fresh ingredients at the market, preparing wholesome meals and integrating physical activity into my daily routine. The Dutch commitment to health has inspired me to prioritize my well-being in a way I never did before.

Appreciating the little things
In a country where every tulip is a burst of colour and every canal holds a reflection of the sky, it’s impossible not to be captivated by the little things. The Dutch have a unique ability to find beauty in simplicity, and this mindset has become a guiding principle in my own life. Whether it’s savouring a warm stroopwafel with a cup of coffee or taking a moment to enjoy a sunset over the canals, living in the Netherlands has taught me that happiness often resides in the smallest of moments.

As I prepare to bid farewell to the tulip-studded landscapes and serene canals of the Netherlands, I carry with me the invaluable lessons this enchanting country has bestowed upon me. Repatriating back to America after two transformative years, I find myself forever changed by the Dutch way of life. Yet, even as I step back on familiar soil, the memories of leisurely bike rides, vibrant outdoor markets and the subtle beauty of everyday moments will remain etched in my heart. The Netherlands has not merely been a chapter in my life; it has become an enduring source of inspiration, reminding me to savour life’s simplicity, find joy in the ordinary and embrace a balance that transcends borders. As I return to the hustle and bustle of everyday American life, I’ll forever be grateful for the tranquil interlude the Netherlands provided and the enduring impact it has had on my perspective, ensuring that the echoes of Dutch wisdom will resonate in my heart for years to come.

Written by Tracey Martin