1. Your American friend obsesses about weight and body image. Your Dutch friend consumes some 3,000 calories daily, including large quantities of dairy, protein, and carbs slathered in mayo, but will never let a number on a scale ruin their day.
2. Your American friend’s health depends on how much medical care is in the household budget. In Holland, everyone receives good healthcare…including illegal immigrants.
3. Your American friend with no income faces homelessness and starvation. Your no-income Dutch friend gets welfare and possibly a living wage.
4. Your US friend is proud of the right to bear arms and may own a gun. Your Dutch friend finds it ridiculous that any private person would want to own a firearm and thinks the government should protect the public from such loonies.
5. Your American friend tells you to “Go fuck yourself.” Your Dutch friend may tell you to “Go get cancer” in a moment of rage. Whatever your Dutch friend is thinking or feeling, you’re bound to learn it in the frankest, most direct way possible.
6. Your American friend assumes everyone speaks English. Your Dutch friend is amazed if anybody has bothered to learn Dutch — a language spoken by a mere 20 million of the world’s 7+ billion people.
7. Your American friend embraces you with a hug or offers a high five when you meet. Your Dutch friend surrounds him/herself with an impenetrable “personal bubble,” but plops three air kisses on alternating cheeks if you’re good buddies.
8. Your American friend is proud of that gas-guzzling minivan parked in the driveway. Your Dutch friend owns at least one old, gear-less bike and uses it for daily transport.
9. Your American friend is accustomed to hearing bleeps and seeing pixelated body parts on TV. Your Dutch friend is shocked at censorship and finds it normal to see naked breasts and soft porn on TV and in print ads.
10. Your American friend believes socialism is the gateway to communism. Your Dutch friend thinks socialism is okay in moderation — it’s undiluted capitalism that opens the door to corporate greed.
11. Your American friend is accustomed to seeing politicians using families as campaign accessories. Your Dutch friend doesn’t know (or care) if Holland’s leaders are married, divorced, single, or whatever, and feels it’s ridiculous for politicians to use a spouse and kids as political eye candy.
12. Your American friend considers a VW Bug a tiny car. In Holland, it’s a mid-size vehicle.
13. At home with the windows closed and doors secured against nosy neighbors, your American friend smokes weed obtained with a medical marijuana license. Your Dutch friend relaxes with a joint in Vondelpark, feeling no need to hide a practice that’s been tolerated in Holland for decades.
14. Your American friend can change his or her given name on a whim. Your Dutch friend needs the king’s permission to do so (really!).
15. Your American friend is impressed by wealth and family pedigree. Your Dutch friend only shows interest in your background if you hail from old money.
Photo: Brandon Giles