Answer by Dick Hoebee:
I'm from The Netherlands.
Update: added some stuff about bicycles and licorice.
Update 2: added a whole bunch of more stuff
We like to eat stuff that the rest of the world finds strange
Raw herring with raw onions
Chocolate sprinkles on bread
French fries with mayonnaise
Pancakes for dinner
Drop a.k.a. Licorice
We seem to not care about a lot of nonsense taboos than most countries
Want to smoke a joint in the park on a sunny day? No problem, enjoy yourself. Nudity or swearing on public TV? That's totally cool and it never traumatized anyone anyway, let's be honest. Gay marriage? Go right ahead, why should anyone be against that? Abortion? Who in the hell are the assholes in this world who don't want to legalize that?
I still don't understand why these things aren't normal everywhere else, especially in the western world. It all just makes sense to me.
Also, prostitution is legal and regulated. Which makes it safer and more pleasant for both the people who work in it and indulge in it.
We're laid back on censorship in general
On TV there's no censorship.
The whole Janet Jackson Superbowl controversy is something that would never happen here. In fact, they showed what happened on the 6 'o clock news and again on the 8 'o clock news uncensored. It bothered no one.
We play all the movies in their original form. We don't show super violent or adult stuff during the day, but after 8.30 in the evening or so, everything is cool. We get a warning beforehand that shows the appropriate age for the movie and what to expect in little logos (violence, sex, scary stuff, drugs, racism, swearing). People are expected to take their own responsibility on what to watch or what to show their kids.
In general, people just don't care about swearing, nudity or anything on TV. During live interviews, we've had Steve-o from Jackass pulling his dick out, Snoop Dogg smoking weed and some guy snorting coke, eating mushrooms and smoking heroin just to show what kind of an effect it has on him.
No one really cared or complained about any of all that. The general attitude is: "If you don't like it, change the channel."
It just makes sense to me.
We have lenient laws on what you can do at what age
- You can go to bars and buy beer/wine & cigarettes when you're 16
- You can buy hard liquor & weed when you're 18
- 18 is also the legal driving age
- The only things you need to be 21 for is going to the casino or the whorehouse
We are awesome with water
Over 70% of our country is below sea level, and our last major catastrophy with water was in 1953. We can put a plug in it if the weather gets rough thanks to these kinds of awesome projects:
We are Europe's seaport to the rest of the world
Sure, there are others too. But we handle the vast majority of it. In terms of port infrastructure and technology, we're the top guys in the world. No other port in the world is as efficient and technologically advanced as the Port of Rotterdam.
We took the fun out of owning a car, let alone a cool one, because it costs a fortune
Think gas prices are bad in the USA? We pay around $9.50 a gallon over here (re-calculated from Euros per liter).
On top of that, we have road tax. The heavier your car, the more taxes you pay. A small, lame-ass car like this will cost you around 30 bucks a month.
A decent standard-sized car like this will cost you around 70 bucks.
Something cool and fun like this will cost you well over a hundred bucks a month.
… and that's without having driven one single mile.
Special sales tax on cars
We have normal sales tax of 21% on everything, but on cars, there's a special sales tax. That Volkswagen Passat I posted earlier starts at $20.000 in the US, but it starts at €32.000 in the Netherlands. This is again due to taxes tied to weight and environmental impact.
The Cadillac CTS with the V8 costs around $65.000 bucks in the US, which is its real price. Over here, it's around €150.000 ($195.540) because of all the taxes on top of it. The insane thing is that if you buy a 2nd hand car, you will need to partially pay this tax again.
These kinds of rules make people not want to own a car, let alone something fun with a big engine for the weekend. This is aggravating because the car is still by far the best way to get around. I don't care how good public transport is, it'll never, ever beat the car.
As much as we hate cars, we love bicycles
Everyone has one and it's an easy and efficient way to get around, because our country is so small.
People on bicycles don't care about traffic rules or safety. Red lights, yielding and other basic traffic rules go right out the window once the Dutchman is on his bicycle. Anyone who has ever visited Amsterdam will tell you.
If you live in the city, there's a big chance your bicycle will get stolen at one point. People generally solve this by buying another stolen bicycle off a homeless guy for 10-20 bucks. It's a weird system, but everyone seems to do it.
We get offended when people from other countries can't point us out on the map
Come on, folks. There are cities that have more people in it than our entire country. We are a tiny little place with 16-something million people. Deal with it.
We are opposed to infrastructure, yet we complain about traffic jams
Everyone gets their panties in a bunch when there are plans to construct a new highway or train tracks. For some reason people seem to think that this is beautiful and special nature:
It's a goddamn grass field, in an artificial polder. It's not that special. Put a highway down there already and save us the headache of standing still for hours every day.
This is the kind of nature that we should be careful with, because it's awesome, and we have none of it over here.
After graduating high school, we fly the flag with our school backpack on it
For some reason, we produce a lot of tulips. Also tourist stereotype #1, together with the weed and prostitutes.
We also provide them to Vatican City. The pope ushered the famous words "bedankt voor de bloemen" (Dutch for "thanks for the flowers").
We love to complain about everything, preferably all day
The weather, the government, people around us, work, school, family, you name it. There's always something to bitch about. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only guy here who takes life light and is having a good time, especially when I look at random people walking around on the street. Many of them seem angry about something.
Jules Deelder – our favorite national poet and "Night Mayor" of Rotterdam
"I hope it's not going to be too pleasant here now."
We have a lot of world-famous DJ's, but we can't produce a decent rock band anymore
Please, less of these kinds of guys
and more of these kinds of guys. It's been too long.
We're the tallest people in the world on average
We have produced a lot of artists to be proud of
Van Gogh (self)
Vermeer (Girl with the Pearl)
M.C. Escher (pay attention to the trippy deliberate perspective errors)
Being nationalistic is often frowned upon, except during sport events
A kid got expelled from school because he had a little Dutch flag on his backpack. Can you believe that? For some reason, people find it weird and almost offensive to be proud of being Dutch. It's not "okay" to parade it around.
But when our national football team does well, oh boy.
Our national color is orange, by the way.
It's a pretty cool place to live.