There's a new book out full of pithy essays on expat adventures in Amsterdam, and it left Robyn Grafton nodding in agreement and wiping away tears of laughter. Find out why 'Dutched Up!' is a top read for international residents.
If you were travelling by train from Amsterdam to Utrecht around the beginning of March and had to listen to someone in your carriage laughing like a snorting pig, sorry - that was me, with this book. If later the same week you were on a tram heading into Amsterdam centrum and you were trying to work out where that insane chuckling was coming from - me again, this book in hand.
Dutched Up! is a collection of tales and observations from women expat bloggers who have come from all over the world to make a home in The Netherlands. Every aspect of Dutch life is covered - from food to having babies, loving a dutchie and of course, cycling.
I rarely get to read these days thanks to a five-month-old baby, but this book's delicious bite-size format makes it easy to dip in and out and steal a quick giggle or learn something new.
This wonderful collection of stories took me back to what it was like to be new here, navigating the alien supermarket aisles and trying to get Dutch people to actually speak Dutch with me. It also made me feel better knowing others had made the same mistakes as me (case in point, running to the doctors when I found out I was pregnant and him not having the faintest idea why I was sitting there telling him. And the horror when he googled to find me a midwife). Good also to know that I wasn’t the only one who has a Dutch man who I have begged to maybe just sugarcoat a little the criticisms he has: “I don’t criticise you, but if I think you’re not doing something right I must tell you, toch?”
There’s a character in Martin Amis’s book The Information, who describes his insane nicotine addiction as wanting to smoke his next cigarette while still smoking the one in his hand. This is sort of how the book made me feel about Amsterdam - it gave me a yearning to be somewhere I already am. Between the wry observations and familiar frustrations, I heard so much love for this small country, with its big personality and tall natives.
It moved me to tears of laughter over some hilarious google translations and sentimental tears of happiness over a description of the kraamzorg service, reminding me about my first week of motherhood and my own amazing kraamverzorgster. By the time I turned over the last page, I felt I had just been enjoying a kopje koffee with some girlfriends, swapping stories about our lives in the Netherlands. Can a book feel gezellig? Zeker weten!
Disclaimer: Amsterdam Mamas received a free copy of this book in exchange for our honest review.
Robyn moved to Amsterdam four years ago, fell head over heels for a Dutchie and is now the proud mama of a baby boy, Jack. With a background in legal business development and marketing, and naturopathic nutrition(!), she took the plunge last year and became a freelance corporate, commercial and proposal writer. She hopes to pick up the nutrition study again one day, but until then is happy to experiment with recreating healthy versions of her guilty pleasures – raw snickers bar, anyone?
Image used with permission