[something punny about voting]

Sunday is election day in Sweden. For expats in the Netherlands yesterday was the last day to vote at the embassy, and I did. I really did not want to go (horribly humid weather and they’re working on the tram tracks in the Hague), but then I thought of the Swedish “democrats” popularity and off I went. And I certainly did not vote for the racists.

(And there was a line! Gotta love the Swedes’ trust in government and commitment to voting.)


The Move

The move is getting very close now – in a month we have the key for the new house (and then we go on a week-long vacation, excellent planning). On Tuesday the moving company dropped this neat little stack off:


And my SO is still convinced that that’s too many boxes. We will see… (When we moved here 9 years ago, we had 40 boxes worth of stuff. This time they gave us 150…)

Meanwhile, we’re both already going “…when we’ve moved…”, imagining all the things we can do when living in a city instead of suburbia. Like… walk to the city and have a drink and/or dinner! This is what we’re moving to though:

Met 5646 inwoners per vierkante kilometer is de stad Leiden sinds 2014, na Den Haag, de dichtstbevolkte gemeente van Nederland.

“With 5646 inhabitants per square kilometer, the city of Leiden is the second most densely populated municipality in the Netherlands after the Hague” (source)

So, for someone complaining about how busy it is in this country, that seems like a good choice. Yep.

Excellent Customer Service

As I’m slowly inching my way away from doing customer service, it’s still been my line of work for the past 10 years (give or take a few months). Not only does this mean that I’m a VERY picky customer, but also that I mentally review/rate all customer services I am forced to contact.

Scandinavian Airlines – shit
KLM – depends on the day and person; ranges from shit to decent
KPN (phone provider in NL) – shit
bol.com (the ones who sell almost everything) – great

Something I’ve learned during my years as an expat in the Netherlands, is that it’s not a strength of Dutch people. It’s just not in (most of) them. Living here, I also feel that I don’t really know the Swedes anymore – are they good at it? If I judge by SAS the answer is a resounding HELL NO.

However. I ordered some books from bokus.se. Upon receipt, one book was wrong. After having paid € 50 in shipping costs I was… let’s say unhappy. So I called them, and they were like “oh, we’re so sorry. please keep that book and we’ll send the right one straight away”.

And that’s how you keep a whining customer happy and coming back for more.

I’m in Stitches (j/k)

Here in NL, the health care is what I would call semi-private (probably technically wrong, but whatever). You’re obliged to have health care insurance, the cost of which varies depending on the company you go with and what extras (dental care etc.) you choose. Normal range is currently around €90-110 per month.

No company can deny you health care coverage, nor do dumbass things like “pre-existing conditions” matter. However. You still have the “self risico”, i.e. self risk, that you’ll have to pay.* That is currently € 380 per year. So anything up until that, you might still have to pay yourself. If you’re unlucky, your yearly health care costs will then be around € 1580 per year (medications not included!). If you’re lucky enough not to get sick, your yearly costs are still around € 1200.

I just got the bill for my hand surgery from last  year. Here’s a picture showing how severe it was:


3 stitches, completely conscious, was out of there within half an hour.

Total bill: € 746.
I have to pay: € 25 (WHY?! I don’t get why most of it is covered but not all. I haven’t reached my self risk limit for this year, so why is it only € 25?)

All in all, not so bad. But decidedly more than what my mom – who uses much more health care – paid last year.

Also, I sent the above picture to my brother as I took off the bandage, and he replied that it looked like “kassler”. Here’s a picture of that for your reference:


*some things fall outside of this. Visits to your house doctor don’t count, for example.

Another Rant

I had another post planned, but this pisses me off every 5 years, so here it goes. Within the next year, I’ll have to renew two official documents; my passport and my driver’s license. The driver’s license is pretty straightforward for being in the EU – since I’m from an EU country, and live in (another) EU country, I have to exchange my expiring one for one from the country I live in. This bureaucratic little exercise can even be completed in evenings, as long as I make an appointment in good enough time, and will cost me something like € 40.

Then there’s the passport. I sigh just typing this.
If you live in Sweden and have to renew yours, all you need is a valid ID and a “birth certificate” (not really, but our equivalent), and you’re all set. It’ll cost € 35 and be ready in around a week.

When I have to do this, however, there are 2 alternatives: going to the embassy or applying while in Sweden on vacation. Obviously, the embassy REALLY REALLY REALLY don’t want you to do it there:

Screen Shot 2017-06-17 at 16.05.18

Just to recap this – the passport that costs € 35 in Sweden, is € 141 here. That’s a € 100 markup. They even put on their website that “you can apply while in Sweden, and then have it sent here to be picked up once it’s ready for € 15”.

I honestly don’t know anything that encapsulates the Swedish passive aggression more than this. Don’t take the discussion/conflict, just make sure people won’t bother you by charging them ridiculous amounts. Thanks, Swedish Embassy. Really.

The Ridiculousness of Dutch Names

In Sweden, we have a lot of “son” names (Most common last names: #1 – Johansson, #2 – Andersson, #3 – Karlsson*). This is obviously remnants from the patronymic days, examples of which you can still see in action in Iceland. In addition to this, I’d say (this is based on experience, I have no empirical proof of it) a lot of names are related to nature. There are all kinds of trees, streams, mountains, hills, twigs, branches (and on and on).

Just to give you a feeling, these names all start with “Birch”:

Björk (Birch)
Björkegren (Birch branch)
Björkgren (Birch branch)
Björklund (Birch grove)
Björkman (Birch man)
Björkqvist (Birch twig)
Björkström (Birch stream)

And that’s how it goes. That is my normal.
Then I moved to the Netherlands, and my normal is being challenged EVERY DAY.

While my partner, like myself, has a slightly odd – but still reasonably acceptable – last name, we have friends with names like Bloemen (Flowers), de Groot (the great/big), de Koning (the King), de Boer (the Farmer), Klein (little), van den Heuvel (from the hill) (etc.). That I could learn to live with, but then comes the ridiculousness that is Dutch last names. These are actual last names, of actual people:

Suijkerbuijk (sugar belly)
Pannenkoek (pancake)
Naaktgeboren (born naked)
Spring in t veld (jump in the field)
Vroegindeweij (early in the meadow)
Rotmensen (dreadful/degenerate people)

Discussing this at work and home, the Dutchies in my life go “what? these are normal names, I don’t understand why you think it’s weird”.
I can’t even…

* Source

There are more examples of this here and here.

Oops or the Happy Holiday post

It appears I took an 8 day break from the blog! Not even Music Monday or Feminist Friday made the cut. I’d apologize if I were sorry about it, but I’m sure everyone was too busy with their own Holidays to notice.

Due to my job’s inability to give a proper head’s up regarding when we’ll be closed or not, I managed to spend a whole 3 days with the family in Sweden and there wasn’t even any snow.

At least Santa found the kids this year again (although, on Christmas day the middle kid told me he thinks his grandfather was pretending to be Santa) and they had the prettiest tree my brother’s ever managed to find. All in all a lovely time was had.