The Difference Between Holland and England

Holland and England

After a short flight and a slightly bumpy landing I arrived back on English soil late last Friday night. I’ve returned to the land of rain, red buses and tea for a week of catching up with friends, family and trying to remember how much the British pound is worth.

After five years of living in Holland returning to England for a few days always feels a little strange at first. There are a lot of little (and a few big) differences between the two countries which I have to acclimatize to again each time. However, after a day or two I usually stop confusing the staff in London shops by saying, “Dank U,” (Thank you) and, “Dag,” (Bye).

The language change is also confusing in another way. When I am in Holland I filter out a lot of the background conversations of passers by (with out realizing it) because I can’t easily understand most of them. Returning to England is like suddenly being cured of deafness. I can understand every conversation with in earshot again and it makes it hard to ignore them. I suddenly have a small window of insight into the lives of the people I pass in the street. This makes it more like getting my hearing back during a TV soap opera. It’s hard to explain if you have not experienced it yourself but some of the strangest things I’ve heard in the last few days include:

“You better stop skimming money off the top before you get caught.”
“I think I took too much of my medication. I can’t feel my fingers or toes.”
They could be lines from an episode of Eastenders.

There is also a big difference in atmosphere between London and Amsterdam which is most noticeable in the ambient noise of the two cities. The soundtrack to London is all bleeping traffic lights, police sirens and barking dog. For Amsterdam the soundtrack is bicycle bells, canal boat engines and loud tourists.

By the time I’m fully used to it all again it will be time to return to Holland and do the whole thing in reverse again. However, at least I don’t confuse Dutch shop staff as much when I speak English to them as I do when I accidentally speak Dutch to British shop staff.

17 responses to “The Difference Between Holland and England”

  1. BlondebutBright says:

    I really related to this post! I’ve experienced the English language overload many a time. When I arrive in the U.S. I want to clamp my hands over my ears. Too much information!

  2. Charlemagne Stavanger says:

    welcome back, that was very interesting to read, you should check out http://www.overheardinnewyork.com/.

    By the way I love your pic for this entry, maybe add a hat?

  3. Invader_Stu says:

    BlondebutBright – That’s just how I feel. I feel like I’m hearing things that I shouldn’t be

    Charlemagne Stavanger – Thanks. I’ll take a look. I really wanted to add a bowler hat but I could not get it looking right. I might have another shot at it later.

  4. ChickyBabe says:

    It sounds like you felt like a tourist in your own home country. It does make us look at things in a different way.

  5. Matt says:

    where do you feel most at home though?

  6. vallyP says:

    Seems like many of us feel the same way Stu! Last week when I was in London, it felt quite odd going into shops and knowing I was expected to speak English..a strange sensation…and yes, I also filter out background conversation here, so that in England, when you pick up these snatches of dialogue, it’s quite a shock!

  7. Alan says:

    I used to be like that when I was living in Brussels. The number of times I said “merci” to some woman behind the counter of a westcountry newsagents and got a pitying look in return! But also, I had a left hand drive car which I used to drive back to the UK on the shuttle, which confused the hell out of everything.

  8. Keith says:

    Als uw blog, Ik geniet van de beelden. Uw werk?

  9. ATingle says:

    I hope you enjoy your visit back home – its nice to see that the weather here hasn’t let you down!

  10. Invader_Stu says:

    ChickyBabe – Yes. It does make me feel like an outside observer sometimes.

    Matt – I’m not sure to be honest. In someway I feel more at home in Holland but England has and always will be me ‘home’ After a day I feel right at home in England again.

    azzai – Thanks. I’ll check out your blog.

    vallyP – It takes some getting used to again doesn’t it.

    Alan – I get looks of confusion and ‘are you mad?’ rather then pity.

    Keith – Ja zijn zij al mijn eigen werk. Dank u (If I translated that correctly).

    ATingle – Thanks. I’ve been lucky so far.

  11. Bonestorm says:

    Haha those sound like interesting conversations. I’d be slowing down to hear some more… or maybe that would be a bad idea? :)

  12. Invader Stu says:

    Bonestorm – I have to admit that I did just that

  13. Ash says:

    I get very tired when I’m back in an English speaking country, just from having to filter out all those conversations I can now hear and fully understand. I reckon it takes about three days to get one’s ‘shields’ back up.

    One thing we noticed now though is that the filtering sometimes doesn’t work here in Holland and we listen to stuff, understand it and then ask each other ‘were they speaking English or Dutch?’!

  14. Invader_Stu says:

    Ash – I’ve noticed myself doing that a few times now as well.

  15. Latina says:

    Did you feel ‘home’ in your return to england?…i must admit home is where my heart is. ;)

  16. Invader_Stu says:

    I did. I feel at home in both places :)

  17. flickacross says:

    oooh! eastenders in your head! i can’t possibly get any better!

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