From the Netherlands With Love
Whoever has flown over Amsterdam knows how the Netherlands values a structurized landscape of cultivated fields and houses that are perfectly aligned in rows. In my home country, people generally fantasize in awe about America, the country of unlimited possibilities. Being an exchange student, this article provides its reader with a personal view that compares living in the Netherlands and living in Flagstaff.
A Complete New World
Ever since I set foot on American ground, I was astonished. First of all, car drivers in Flagstaff always stop for pedestrians at crossings. Always. By smiling and waiving I hope to genuinely show off my gratitude. There is also a full lane cycling allowance at various areas. Car drivers respect that. My Dutch mentality automatically processes I may die cycling at every moment. So, I precautiously drive as far to the right as possible — cars still don’t pass! Nope, they stay right behind me.
Ever noticed how clean Flagstaff is? I surely did! When I was on campus and spoke to Beth, a 79-year-old Jehova’s Witness, she told me that she went to Amsterdam and Delft and was blown away by all the chewing gum sticking on the streets. I could not but totally agree with her, even though I am very used to it. That is passé here and I have the feeling that Flagstaff citizens highly respect that.
Organization is key. NAU dedicates itself to this belief: all effort in light of the best experience for its employees and students. When there are problems with dorm locks or someone lost the front door key, the whole lock gets renewed and so the residents receive new keys. Safety above all! Buying an expensive bike for the limited time being? No need to; NAU provides a weekly rent of Yellow Bikes. Is that week on its end? No worries, rent another bike for a new week.
And then the giant supermarkets Target and Walmart. They. Sell. Everything. From candy bars to complete bedding sets, from prepacked mac and cheese to Arizona Tea, and from fishing gear to Magnum rifles. Especially the latter is one that flabbergasted me. The payment process is refreshing: when I am about to pay, the cashier always asks how I am doing. The sort of kindness I deeply appreciate. One miraculously nifty thing is that one is able to select and request cash back during payment. I can buy a chocolate bar and withdraw $50 by doing so, if I feel like it. That is what the Netherlands should introduce! Oh, and check it out: they say ‘have a good one’ when you leave. Awesome!
Tax and tips. A bit confusing in the beginning, though. Mostly, taxes are excluded of product prices, so that is often an exciting find on the final receipt. Why does the U.S. not simply include it in the price? Same for the tip etiquette, actually. When I was clubbing in Monsoons and got charged $7,77 for a Malibu mix, the receipt revealed an empty spot with the letters ‘tip’ written above it. As if I would happily contribute to every drink I am having. Then just include a random tip in the price and don’t tell me about it.
Going out in Flagstaff is a lot of fun. For this, as well as for buying alcohol in general, there is a lot of strict supervision, though. One will always be asked for a passport, which will be scanned at the door. I discovered how convenient an Arizona ID or driver’s licencse is. It only costs $12 and a week of patience. Big tip. Once arrived in a cool club like Monsoons or Collins, the vibe is on. Smooth R&B, rap and trap tunes are spinned by the DJ and girls show off their flexibility in extraordinary dance moves. Not always on guys. They are more than glad to grind on their girlfriend’s lap as well.
In addition to the expenses, I can very much appreciate the free refills that the catering industry provides. In restaurants one will not necessarily be charged for a glass of water. But when the waitress notices that one fourth of the water has been drunk, she makes the water can appear and poors some more in one’s glass immediately.
United States citizens are proud people. That is to be seen on all U.S.A. flags that hang around Flagstaff and elsewhere. Normally, I would find it a bit exaggerated to be so overly expressive, but in this case it reminds me of the fact that I am absolutely living in the US. Esthetically patriotic, really.