I have expressed my dislike about the Netherlands enough. It’s about time to share my appreciation to the things I truly liked and actually miss.
Simple statistics. I like to meet new people and I admit to going to a lot of tinder dates. Yeah, I might be a weirdo. What a great way to meet people – if only they’re normal, or something like that. I find that meeting for 10 minutes gives you more information about a guy than chatting for 10 weeks. The data I had from Estonia before the exchange was simple: 2 out of the 20 guys i had met were nice. 10%. khmm. In the Netherlands, 7 out of 9 were nice. To be honest, the two in Estonia were also foreigners. How poor communicators Estonians are deserves a whole book. I’ll focus here on the Dutch and what made them so nice.
They listen. So even if most Dutch don’t feel comfortable with discussing deeper topics such as meaning of life, they are still good listeners. They pay attention to you and build the discussion on top of what you both have created instead of eliminating whatever you said and just jumping in, changing the topic. They listen. They ask questions. They get involved.
They have emotions. More than two. They were not afraid to show their emotions and express what they liked or disliked. Despite most were shallow, you know, even talking about the weather can be enjoyable if you have a palette of emotions to look at. Noone would have expected me to say the Dutch are emotional. Well. I only compare them to Estonians, so there you have it.
They are not socially anxious. They don’t fear what you are going to say, they don’t fear if you’re going to say, they don’t fear if you look at them. They have some confidence that despite of their rather passionless life, content is common. They are satisfied with themselves and that is nice. Less stress, less effort needed to comfort your companion.
The second big thing I miss are the Jiu-Jitsu classes. That’s the main one. What I experienced there was a cohesive inclusive friendly group that aimed for improvement and fineness. The sensei would often challenge us with new and more advanced techniques to make sure everyone’s interested, improving. Noone bored. He explained every motion in detail, directed our attention to which hand and which foot goes where and when. He observed and helped, helped refine your act. No punch is perfect, there are only more advanced details to learn once the baselines are clear. What was maybe even more relevant, as I now see it, is that everyone did the same excercises, and partners were changed frequently, pairing up with a stranger was encouraged. What all of this resulted were two things. First, was a possibility to learn very fast – you learn from others, many of whom are higher belts, and you learn from trying out more advanced things. The second thing was, it felt like one big family. It was pure joy to be in those classes. More like a playground to me than serious training. And yet it was.
This is what I think all trainings should be. Add a social element, make it challenging to everyone, make it feel like play. Anyone would advance faster, and want to join every time.
Why the title? It rains so often that when the sun does peek out, every Dutch would shift their faces towards the sun, just like sunflowers do. What a fun thing to watch!
So yeah, I think that Dutch have more emotions than Estonians do, and that I had fun training there.
I also miss biking.
It wasn’t so bad after all.
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