Expat Gone Wild: Broken Dutch Survival Kit

Expat Gone Wild: Broken Dutch Survival Kit

Feb 6, 2012 |  by  |  Art
About the author
Caroline (25) is a writer, an expat enjoying life at its fullest in Amsterdam and a girl born to party. She makes her Friday night plans no later than Monday morning and enjoys drinking verse muntthee just as much as hot-people-watching in the city.

They ride their trashy Dutch bikes like die-hard rickshaw cyclists in India, they know that going Dutch is synonymous for “baby, pay your own bill” and they stalk their naked neighbour in his curtainless flat just like he is stalking them. They are expats gone wild in Amsterdam and I am one of them! Let me share my stories about a foreigner’s life in this glorious town. You’re in La La Land before you know it.

Part 2: Clumsy, but sexy – Broken Dutch  

What’s sexier than Ryan Gosling, Kate Moss and Gisele Bündchen feeding each other with ice cream? Exactly. An expat trying to speak Dutch! Once Mr. and Mrs. Expat made their way into the terrific La La Land of Amsterdam, integrating on several levels is actually no big deal. They know how to fix their bikes after falling off from time to time, they have learned to love Dutch treats such as bitterballen or licorice and they also roll their eyes at the sight of hyperactive tourists taking pictures of the “oh, sooo many” bikes parked along the canals.

Yet, there is one thing expats will always remain famous for. And that’s our amazingly enchanting capability to speak in broken Dutch. Bonnetje mee? Nee, dankjewel! It’s like renting a pedal-boat on one of Amsterdam’s canals with all your other crazy expat friends, bumping straight into one of the prominent tourist sightseeing boats, then trying to apologize in your finest Dutch and having the red-faced captain shouting “STUPID AMERICANS” at you. I speak from experience.

So, why don’t expats just polish up their Dutch skills? Trust me, it’s not like we are particularly proud of it. Still, no matter how crappy our Dutch is, it’s exactly why you Dutchies adore us anyway. Admit it! It’s like the grass is greener on the other side once we get those accents going. And ultimately, there’s only a set of Dutch phrases which expats need to know to survive in Amsterdam anyway…

How To Pretend to Speak Dutch

1. “Lekker hoor!” (Yummy, dude!) – A very practical phrase that can be used to describe tasty food, a hot piece of cloth or…a hot piece of body.

2. Scream the word “Gekkenhuis!” when you are at a good party. It actually means ‘lunatic asylum’, but don’t worry…that’s what it comes down to when you’re at a good party anyway!

3. “Even kijken!” (Let’s see!) – No matter how bad your Dutch is, if you drop these two words every once in a while, everyone will think you’re … a cute little expat!

4. Know how to pronounce your address in Dutch, without any accent. It will save you from being screwed over by the cab driver. If he starts a conversation with you, just burst into quick nervous laughter and pretend you’re calling someone!

5. Say this all the time and score big time: “Jij bent zooooo (stretch it!) mooi!” (You are sooo pretty!). You either get to date a really good-looking Dutchie or you scare them away. At least it’s worth trying.

6. ‘Vergeet niet uit te checken met je OV chipkaart!’ (When leaving the vehicle, don’t forget to check out with your public transport chipcard) – No matter how long you’ve been an expat using public transport in Amsterdam, these words will be carved into your brain forever.

7. ‘Ik moet even overgeven!’ (I feel sick, might have to vomit!) – This sentence not only rhymes, it’s also very multifunctional! Whether you are bored by the person talking to you in a bar or you’re having a knot of nervousness in your stomach before going to the dentist, just say it out loud.

8. ‘Niet normaal, ey!’ (Crazy, ey!) – Whether you are a passionate gossip girl or like complaining about the weather, this phrase will support all of your arguments. Don’t forget to always put emphasis on the ‘ey’!

9. ‘Doe mij maar even een broodje’ (Make me a sandwhich…now!) – If you are hungry and don’t like beating around the bush, then interrupt the conversation with this command. Dutch people love straightforwardness!

10. If you actually don’t want to engage in any profound conversation just say ‘Ik spreek een beetje Nederlands’ (I speak a little bit of Dutch) – This sentence implies you don’t know any Dutch at all, so congratulations! You just saved yourself from pretending you did.

Next Time on ‘Expat Gone Wild': The Expat vs. Tourist Battle

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