Jane is a British expat living in Holland for about three years. But she does not miss London, where she lived for the main part of her life. And she does not miss Scotland, her birthplace. She misses the Arizona desert. Before moving to Holland, she lived for 12 years in Phoenix, Arizona.
The more I live away from America, the more I have these feelings of regrets. I miss the desert. I am not complaining about the Dutch weather. It was difficult in the beginning, but now I have the right clothes, and it’s fine. It’s not that I miss warm weather. I just miss the desert. I didn’t think I’d miss that. I was excited to go back to Europe, to daffodils and tulips. But anywhere you go in the world, you are going to miss something.
And I miss good food. Dutch food is tedious and boring. The food in Arizona was great. In any big city, London or Phoenix, you can get whatever you want. And Phoenix is one of the eating capitals of America. It’s full of fantastic restaurants. You can go to a new one every day. And they are all beautifully built, with different themes. Fantastic! And here, all the restaurants are the same. I am sure, there might be some good restaurants in Amsterdam or Den Haag. But apart from that, even if you go to other cities, it’s all the same. When I was in Portugal, a relatively poor country, even the smallest restaurants were superb. And French, they enjoy their food. But the Dutch, they are not too much into food.
What I love here is the flowers. I love going to the market and buying flowers every week. Nowhere in the world it is so cheap to buy flowers as in Holland. I like that.
What I like about the Dutch is that they all speak English and many other languages, which I find amazing. When we went to Germany, to a small town, we were lost in a menu, and nobody was speaking English. In this country, everybody speaks English and everybody is well educated, on all levels of society. We have a good friend, he is a young lad, 29, he is a builder. His English is amazing. Whereas in the British army they have to teach some soldiers how to read. Educational system seems to work very well here. Young people seem to grow up really well educated and well disciplined.
I think, in general, it is a very peaceful and well-structured society. And you see a lot of men with young children. My neighbour takes Wednesdays off to look after the baby. Even though it is possible in England, it’s not part of the culture. I think it’s nice that children are growing up with both parents taking care of them. And children can cycle everywhere, it’s safe. They can be independent. They go to school by themselves, they don’t need their mothers to drive them. I’ve read a survey recently that has found that the Dutch teenagers are the happiest or the most satisfied in the world because of the way they are brought up and because of the freedom they enjoy. That’s a nice side of the society: family life and the freedom to travel.