I had the same problems with living in Netherlands some years ago, so after few months I said goodbye to Utrecht. Living in Eastern Europe is really much more fun. ;)
As an immigrant to the U.S. who's been living in California for the last 6 years I'm waiting for the next quake to happen. I've also been considering going back to live in my home country or somewhere like Europe even though I wouldn't be able to stand the weather.
I'm sorry to hear about your problems the last couple of days; being without power for days in the heat sounds like like no fun. I'm glad to hear you're all right, though disgruntled.
Anyway, now to the defense of the Netherlands. :)
You don't have to live a treadmill life in the NL. You can have flexible working hours in *some* companies, or you can do freelancing. I also believe we have a lot more people doing part-time work and have shorter working hours in general; I hear working hours are typically very long in the US. I think concerning work environment you may not be comparing the NL and the US, but the type of work you do now versus the type of work you did then.
I haven't had an issue with people being unfriendly or being too uptight, but perhaps that because I'm Dutch myself. :) I'm surprised you'd describe the Dutch as 'judgemental'. In some areas of life I can see where you are coming from, but the Netherlands is at the same time one of the more socially libertine societies on the planet; certainly far less socially conservative than most of the US. Religious fundamentalism isn't very popular here.
Even phone prices have been slowly coming down with increased competition. That's indeed unusual -- many places tend to charge you the maximum, even if they'd actually make more money on selling more if they didn't. Going out to eat is definitely more expensive here than it could be. Typical is that even American fast food places here charge you for every 3 micrograms of ketchup/mayo/whatever you may want with your fries. They don't tend to do that over there. Or try buying a can of coke at a railway station from a machine. The funny thing is that with the euro, as soon as you cross the border into Belgium or Germany, you can see the cans of coke at stations cost probably 2 or 3 times less. :)
People picking on you for wearing the wrong clothes, or staring in the street -- not in my experience, but probably I'm just not dressing special enough, or I'm just oblivious about it. You wouldn't think that in places like Amsterdam people care much about what other people are wearing, so this may be a regional difference.
Taxes are still high here (and the economy isn't doing well), people complain about high prices, and the weather is still yucky, though we're having a nice september for a change (july sucked and the second half of august was cold).
Good luck over there.
The Netherlands out. :)
I understand that you defend the Netherlands... I would have done the same a few years ago, and probably still would. Note that I listed a whole bunch of things that are better in the NL than in the US.
"""You don't have to live a treadmill life in the NL. You can have flexible working hours in *some* companies, or you can do freelancing."""
Yes, in *some*. I haven't been able to find any though, while in the US I didn't even have to look to get a telecommuting job. Coincidence? Possibly, but not sooo likely.
"""People picking on you for wearing the wrong clothes, or staring in the street -- not in my experience, but probably I'm just not dressing special enough, or I'm just oblivious about it."""
If you're Dutch, you probably won't run into that problem very often, but things are different for Americans, who are used to going to the store in their dirty old t-shirt, sloppy sweatpants and sneakers or slippers. They are in for a rude surprise if they try to do the same in the Netherlands.
"""You wouldn't think that in places like Amsterdam people care much about what other people are wearing, so this may be a regional difference."""
Possibly so. I am from the enlightened Zuid-Limburg. :-)
Things are probably different in other states.
I must've been unusually happy in my job life; I can't say I live a treadmill life there and haven't really done so for years. I'm sure there are cultural differences, but I've heard enough about long hours and treadmill jobs in the US to consider the treadmill thing as more of a personal change for you than something primarily cultural. Then again, it may indeed be easier to get a job working at home there than here, even though I know a number of people who do so.
I imagine Rotterdam is different, as I do go to the store in tshirts and slippers (once every while, when it's warm enough. it rarely is). What's the rude surprise? :)
That's not to say the Netherlands is perfect. As you noticed I complained about various cultural practices which I think are better arranged elsewhere. I already mentioned food and uptight pricing schemes.
One other thing I've noticed is the relative lack of interest here in cool new technology which can be a drawback -- interest in science and technology is not too high in Dutch culture compared to some other places, like the US. Though the global rise of geek culture is helping here too. :)
So you had to get by for four days without electricity (and running water). Big deal!
Funny to see people considering a 4 day power outrage as a reason to SKIP COUNTRY! Don't be such a cry baby! So you couldn't check your email for 4 days, and your mamma was warried cause you could not call, and you were sweating and could not have a bath! For 4 (four) whole days. What a big deal!
Also, do you believe that in the event of a disaster striking Holland (like a flood) Dutch goverment/power companies etc would be more prepared? 'Cause if you do, you are in for a surprise.
The incident with your wife visiting the dentist and the employer threatening to fire her was far more important that the power shortage. If that's the prevailing policy, then that's more of a reason to skip country!
Yeah well, unfortunately I am not used to living in a third-world country. I am used to a higher standard of living, and not willing to put up with this. Also note the trivial detail that we couldn't work during those days, so we lost quite a bit of income. It's hard enough to pay the bills without a hurricane coming by.
Well, being used to a higher standard of living is nice. But a short break (4 days) from that high standard is not that high an ordeal!
Heck, people in even higher standards of living that you and me even pay to get back to the basics (without electricity or a 7/11 nearby), getting on those "desert-island" holidays and treks. Could be all that bad, could it?
Maybe you could invest in a little gas fuelled power engine, by the way. To keep the laptops on during those periods without power.
Its not only Florida, though. New York had its power-off day, and California had its share of problems with power companies failing to provide, er, power. Does this make US a third world country?
"""Heck, people in even higher standards of living that you and me even pay to get back to the basics (without electricity or a 7/11 nearby), getting on those "desert-island" holidays and treks. Could be all that bad, could it?"""
I don't know. Maybe others would do such a thing, but being the crybaby that I am, I never would. ;-) If I'm going somewhere else, I want to have it *better* than at home, not *worse*. Also, people who do that, do it voluntarily.
I see your point, but if you're used to a high standard of living all your life, then it's a rude awakening when you are confronted with what can happen in a less sophisticated environment. Maybe I'm spoiled, maybe it's just a matter of unrealistic expectations. When I grew up, in the 70s and 80s, new technology was in the US first, *then* it came to Europe (often years later). I guess that somewhere in the back of my mind I still have this notion that the US is technologically more advanced than the Netherlands, even though it isn't true anymore.
This is not the first problem with power/water/phone, by the way, just the most prominent one.
"""Maybe you could invest in a little gas fuelled power engine, by the way. To keep the laptops on during those periods without power."""
I would if I could afford it. :-/
If you fill your bathtub with water before the storms, you can use that water to flush your toilet by dumping a bucket of water into the bowl. :-)
I will do that next time...