Growing up in Spain everyone always asked me if I felt more Dutch or more Spanish. I always, very convincingly, said that I definitely felt all Dutch, Spain is a lovely country but I didn’t feel like I connected with it insofar that I could call myself Spanish.
I have always been very stubborn in this, but also very proud. In school the most you hear about other countries that people actually care about is football. Thankfully Holland used to be one of the best so I was always very proud of my country whenever other people started naming their favourite footballers and they were Dutch. One kid in primary school didn’t even find out I was Dutch until our trip on our very last year, then he immediately started to name all the Dutch footballers and started looking at me like “wow”. Apparently just coming from the same nationality as those big players qualifies for me being as big a hero for him.
But football is not the only thing Holland is remembered for (especially not now). There’s so many other reasons that I’m proud to be Dutch!
We were the first to legalise gay marriage
I am ashamed to say that I didn’t actually know this until a couple of years ago. My sister, some friends of her and me were talking about it and decided to look up which country was the first to legalise gay marriage. It was ours! I don’t know why I didn’t know this but ever since I heard I have been that little bit prouder. We legalised gay marriage in 2001 (!) , which is 17 years ago. I think it’s amazing that we actually took the initiative to start this and many others followed. The fact that not all countries in the world have legalised it yet though is seriously beyond me.
We invented delicious sweet snacks such as stroopwafels and even the donut
A stroopwafel is a delicious Dutch speciality that you must try if you’re even in The Netherlands. It’s two thin waffles put on top of each other with a layer of a kind of syrup in the middle. It’s the most Dutch and most delicious treat you’ll ever eat. If you can, try getting it at a market where they’re freshly baked. The donut is a surprise for me too, but apparently the Dutch were the first people in the 17th century to come up with the idea for a donut. It started off as a dough ball and eventually became the donut when they decided to put a whole in the middle.
The nature here is beautiful
It may be no mountain valleys or anything, but the nature here can be beautiful. From heather to the most beautiful lakes, beaches and natural parks, and even some very small hills. We might be a small country, but we’ve got it. And then the best thing about it is that you can take a bike, hop on and enjoy all the views from your bike – maybe stopping every now and then to take a photo. There’s nothing better for me than to cycle through nature and enjoying it all, maybe even taking those sweet snacks that we came up with.
A lot is done here in terms of Culture
Even though there have been many complaints about the budget cuts for culture (which, I don’t blame them) Holland is still in my eyes one of the countries that deems culture very important so there’s a lot organised pretty much everywhere. From theatre, to whatever classes you want, to cinema (big cinemas and art house films) to museums. We’ve got it all! Plus it’s normally very encouraged in school, many high school kids get a CJP pass which gives you discounts at many different cultural places. There’s also plenty of things organised for children and there’s even ‘culture high schools’ which have a special focus on culture.
We are one of the safest countries in the world
Ranking 15th out of 160 countries I think we’re doing pretty well. Obviously there are still some horrible things happening in Holland that I don’t wish upon anybody but in the grand scheme of things we are a pretty safe country. People look out for each other, nothing major really happens and generally I feel pretty safe here.