Thursday, May 8, 2014

Weekly Dose: Culture Shock

Thought I would start something a little fun around here, our weekly dose of culture shock! We have been in Amsterdam almost a week now, and there are some things we just plain aren't used to! Each week I will feature two items that are simply different to us and our typical way of living when we were in North America.

Bikes! Bikes, bikes, bikes, bikes, bikes. When we were moving to Amsterdam we were warned everyone rides a bike. Ok, cool, whatever that's great we will get one. But what no one can prepare you for, even with pictures, is the vast amount of bikes. I am serious. These things are everywhere, I honestly have never seen so many bikes in my entire life!

Bike racks are overflowing with bikes. They are parked and locked to light posts, some neighborhood fences if they have a metal railing. Other times they are just simply parked and not locked up. They are all equipped with baskets or milk crates, bags or whatever for carrying everything. Lots of baby seats, and some even with little trolly's in the front to carry multiple children or lots of grocery bags at once! Today we even saw a woman carrying a carry on suitcase in her basket! Yesterday we saw one guy peddling around with a bag of recyclables! Bicycling is second nature to these people. I am in awe, seriously!

This is one trolly that people carry their kids in. I even saw some that had like a booster type seat mounted into them! 

But, with this awesomeness comes bad parts as well. Apparently there is a lot of bike theft. But, I will say with the amount of people that leave their bikes unlocked it doesn't surprise me honestly. Some people have referred to some bikes as "communal" bikes lol Stating just buy a plain black bike so if you come out and yours is gone no big deal just pick one like yours! This fella was kidding of course, but with the number of plain black bicycles it really makes me wonder exactly how much sarcasm was in that statement?

Crossing the main street when there isn't a pedestrian light can be difficult. The bikers to not care at all and will not stop for anything. These guys will mow you down so watch out! After just 6 days we are still trying to remember the bike path is not in any way shape or form to be shared with pedestrians, just wish the bike paths and sidewalks weren't so close together! ha!

The last thing is some of the stunts we see people pulling. Where a crate would normally go on a bike we see people (kids & adults) giving others a ride, on the back we saw a little girl standing where her dad's crate normally goes & she was holding on to his neck as he drove around, saw a gentleman giving his girlfriend a ride and she was sitting on the middle bar that connects the frame. It is shocking to me as a North American who is used to a million rules about riding a bike to see these crazy things going on, but it sure is fun to watch!

The Supermarket
There are several options for shopping in Amsterdam: Supermarket, Bakery, Cheese shop, Produce Store, Health Food Store, and Outdoor Market.

I will get into the ins & outs of all these markets later on, but I have thus far mostly stuck to just the supermarket. First weird thing: eggs are not kept in the dairy section. I've only found eggs refrigerated at the outdoor market & at the cheese shop & produce shop. Rumour has it I can find the eggs in the baking section of my supermarket, but I've yet to find that as well. I did however find the cookie aisle ;) The second thing: everything is printed in Dutch! Ok, so this really isn't a huge surprise. But, you know how most thing in the US are in English & then Spanish (sometimes French) well here I assumed the 2nd language things would be printed in is English...uh, no...IF & that's a big if it has a second language it is German, French or Swedish typically. So, when I was buying PB I stayed with the biological (organic) because it had the fewest listed ingredients. I know, I know you are asking why don't I just use google translate...well in the store google translate mobile likes to crap out on me :-/ So, I was left to fend for myself. But, thankfully most everything in the grocery store has a picture so I can be like a kindergartner & match pictures to words. ;)

Our grocery store...see those bikes?! And the store had just gets worse!

This is my basket. I snuck some snickers ice cream bars in there for hubby, he was having a rough time adjusting to Amsterdam. lol Some frozen veggies they don't have a big selection of these surprisingly....and other goodies like that addicting sweet bread...NOM.

These cookies have chocolate lining the bottom. Holy deliciousness!!!

These are amazing. You will see them featured 

Half loaves of bread, what?!?! So much awesomeness in one little package! lol But seriously we don't go through a ton of bread so this is awesome for more stale loaves!

This things are awesome. Pear, mint, mango juice & apple, cherry, lime juice. They are amazing. So fresh and yummy!

There ya have it, your daily dose of culture shock! I am a big believer that not all culture shock has to be negative, it is just a different way of living than what I am used to and I am really enjoying getting used to it all...most of it is really easy to get used to (like the food! ha!).

Have you ever experienced culture shock? How did you handle it?


  1. What a great post! First impressions of a new place are always amazing. Walking around with eyes wide opened, ready to experience it all! I felt the same way when I moved to Australia many years ago. Life was different and it took a few weeks to learn what a capsicum and prawn were :) But it is all part of the path we carve and it is so wonderful! Can't wait to read more...

    1. Thank you! It really is so fun to discover new places and new languages as everywhere you move, even if they speak English has their own dialect and slang! Thanks so much for stopping by! :D

  2. Ooh! I envy you for all that chocolatey goodness!! Very interesting indeed about the bikes!! I love that they use them a lot and it's amusing the repercussions of having so many!!!

  3. That was so interesting. No wonder America is a fat country-- no one bikes anywhere! The food does look good!

  4. As a regular reader of yours (I found your blog through WIAW), I'm pleasantly surprised to see you're living in my country now! Bikes are indeed everywhere, if you ever have the chance to visit Groningen (a city in the Northern part of the Netherlands), you will be amazed at the amount of bicycles in a relatively tiny city. I'm looking forward to reading more of your Dutch adventures, and I wish you all the best in this (currently very véry rainy) country.

    1. Oh wow! Hester, are you a blogger too?! I cannot wait to explore more of the Netherlands.We are going to Haarlem this weekend for a get together with a co-worker of hubby's and then to Utrecht in about three weekends for a cheerleading competition. I can't wait to see more and do more...if you have any suggestions of "must do" things for us I am totally open to hearing them! :D

  5. Love that bikes are everywhere in other countries. We have a car-free Mackinac island in MI -- similarly, bikes are everywhere :) Thanks for sharing at #smallvictoriessundaylinky !

    1. Betsy I just got done looking up Mackinac Island what a neat place! I am amazed there is a place in the US that is completely car free! I love it, thank you for sharing that with me! :D

  6. I love learning about new cultures. I read a book called The Geography of Bliss: one grump's search for the happiest places in the world. One of them was Amsterdam and we learned quite some interesting tidbits :) Thanks for sharing with Small Victories Sunday linky, I hope you keep sharing your culture shock pieces with us! :)