Emigrating is not always easy, you leave behind a lot that you were used or attached to. Your culture, norms and values. A while ago I wrote an article about 10 things I miss about the Netherlands and told you that, among other things, I sometimes miss that typical Dutch coziness, the honesty and bread and cheese. But now it’s time for the other side of the story. Over the past year and a half, I have come to appreciate a lot in Colombia and become accustomed to life here. And although those things I sometimes miss from my home country, I have no desire to return. Of course because of Jimmy, but also because I enjoy living here. And yes, there really are things from the Netherlands that I just don’t miss at all. Which one? You can read about that here!
10 Things I don’t miss from the Netherlands
1. The countryside
Dutch nature is truly beautiful. The seas of flowers, the vast moors. The beautiful lakes and the long coastline. But one thing is missing: mountains. I’m a real mountain girl, don’t have much with the sea. Mountains are really magical to me. For hours I can look at it, walking at high altitudes and enjoying the beautiful seas of clouds. After many years in Bogotá I still love those high peaks surrounding the city. Already I can hardly imagine a life without mountains.
Now I have to admit right away: now that I see all those cheerful pictures in backyards and on terraces passing by of happy people in the Netherlands, I do miss it a bit. That change of season, something we don’t know here. But as soon as it starts raining again in the Netherlands, summer is not a real summer, and everyone sits in the winter cold for weeks, I am too happy with the weather in Colombia. The temperature is really perfect between 5 and 20 degrees all year round, with occasional rain. And if I want some summer in December, I get on a plane and land on the coast in half an hour with 30 degrees. A major advantage of emigrating: a better climate.
You probably know about going on vacation to Greece or Thailand. Or to Colombia, of course. Only to return home raving that the people there are so terribly nice. The whole fact that we Dutch people notice that is because we don’t know it ourselves, that enormous friendliness. Colombians are incredibly sweet and friendly people, very nice to live among them.
4. The hurried life
I think this needs little explanation. The rhythm in Colombia, and even in Bogotá, is much lower than in the Netherlands. People worry less, or hardly at all, and everything always works out. No wonder burnout is much less common in Colombia than in the Netherlands.
5. Limited opening hours
As you can read here, I grew up in a small village where I often had to rush out of work to still be able to buy something to eat. And anything other than shopping could only be done on weekends because everything closes at 5 or 6 PM. So I really don’t miss those limited opening hours at all. Around the corner from us, a large supermarket is open 24 hours a day and a normal supermarket is open until at least 10 o’clock. Shopping malls don’t close until 9 or 10 during the week, and on Sundays almost everything is also just open. And did you know you can even hit the gym here at 4 AM? I find that these opening hours give a lot of freedom and peace, something I missed in the Netherlands.
6. Going out to dinner
Eating out in the Netherlands is more for special occasions than a daily activity. It is expensive, not always of good quality and the service, especially compared to Colombia, is just not that good. I was regularly annoyed in Holland by the attitude of the staff, who sometimes did not even greet normally. Eating out here is delicious, cheap and the staff really runs for you, service is something they value highly here. Taking leftover food is not a problem either, and sharing something is also something they find quite normal here. No wonder we go for dinner so often! Tips for eating out in Colombia you read here.
Colombians are hospitable. And Dutch people just aren’t like that. This manifests itself in many ways. Like always being welcome in someone’s home, sharing things together and being happy for your company. But also hospitality in the country. Here I am a foreigner and all I experience is positivity. Welcome to Colombia, is a phrase I have heard so many times. Yes, people stare at me, but out of interest. They want to know about everything. But never does anyone not want me here. That feels incredibly good I can tell you. Warm and safe in a country full of lovely people. I can hardly imagine what it must be like for a foreigner to come to the Netherlands. By the way, the mentality in the Netherlands is a common reason to emigrate.
8. Not as much diversity in landscape
In the Netherlands on vacation: really hearty fun! Holland is also pretty cool. But the chances of ending up somewhere as flat as home, with the same temperature and with the same things to do, are pretty good. It’s all nice, but if you really want to go to another world, you have to fly at least a few hours. Colombia is an extremely diverse country, where you actually have all types of landscapes and climates. Two hours of driving outside Bogotá and I am already in another world. I love that diversity in nature and landscapes. Almost anything is possible, from sunbathing in the Caribbean to mountain climbing at 5,000 meters. And everything in between. Truly a paradise on earth. Vacationing at home has never been so much fun!
Fruit in Holland: expensive and anything but fresh. Here in Colombia, fruit is the most delicious thing ever, they have so many varieties and most of it is just super fresh. In fact, just outside the city you can pick mangoes, limes and more right off the tree!
10. Distance and warmth
Colombians are not only friendly, but also incredibly warm. In the Netherlands, there is literally a great distance between people, even if you know each other very well. Shaking hands during a greeting is quite normal in Holland, but quite distant here. People greet each other with a kiss on one cheek and often a hug. And I don’t just mean friends, but also at work or at the gym. It makes me feel wanted, loved and warm. So beautiful right?
Emigrating to Colombia: big cultural differences and sometimes annoyances. But above all, I live here with tremendous joy and happiness and get a very warm feeling when I think of this beautiful country. For all those things I sometimes miss from Holland, so many beautiful and nice things come back here!
What from your country could you do without?