Let’s be honest: do you know any Dutch person who wakes up happy on King’s day because it’s the King’s birthday? I know I don’t. We do not particularly adore the King. Nonetheless, the Netherlands sees the most exuberant celebration of a King’s or Queen’s birthday in the world. The celebration’s most remarkable feature? Its flea market. Who wants to spend their free time selling old rubbish in the street?
So one arrives – with qualifications that aren’t valid – in a country with an unknown language and culture. And for animals of habit – which we are – this means there’s work to be done. Learning a new language and culture takes time and effort, as does getting used to a life and a country in which everything is different. Regardless of how well you prepare, it’s a process that has its ups and downs. And forget just popping in on family and friends – it’s simply no longer possible. In fact, your partner is the only support you have, certainly in the beginning.