Being Dutch Essay

Submitted By Banditos
Words: 690
Pages: 3

English 1301
29 January 2012
Being Dutch I never believed the mode of my personal transportation defined who I was and how I lived because my car was just a means of getting me to work and the grocery store; in fact, it was no more a part of my life than my lawnmower was. A few years ago, though, my husband and I moved to Amsterdam for three years, and my bicycle, Bertha, became my best friend, the means of my independence, and most importantly, the cultural link to my becoming Dutch. To be Dutch meant having a bike because an automobile in Amsterdam was similar to having an elephant on one’s back due to the lack of parking places in the central area of the city; moreover, the Dutch government assessed a monthly fee for the luxury of parking in the city, and each family was allowed only one parking sticker per household. The bottom line was that I took my American mountain bike with me when we moved. I had seen many bicycles on the streets of Amsterdam during our house hunting trip, as well as, the wide bicycle paths (“fiets pads”) on practically every street. “Hey,” I thought, “It’ll be pretty neat to ride a bike everywhere!” I was so naïve and just downright ignorant. I had not been very observant of the Dutch bicycles, so I looked like a real idiot on my first cycling adventure in Amsterdam. The Dutch bikes are built very differently from American bikes; for instance, the handlebars are placed in a position so that the rider sits upright, not hunched over the inverted bars of a twenty-one speed, and the overall height of the bicycle is quite a bit higher than American bikes. Also, Dutch bikes are either gray or black, not Patriot Red, like my mountain machine, and all of them had a very loud bell so the fast riding Dutch cyclists could constantly warn the tourists to get off the bike paths, paths which looked like large sidewalks to the masses of unknowing Americans. On my first day out on my bike, we both screamed silently, “Look at me! I’m an American nerd too.” I felt alone, different, unwanted— words which define the first few months of my Dutch life; and I realized I had to find a way to adjust to my new life. In order to fit in with the masses of Dutch bikers who swarmed almost every street in Amsterdam, I decided to purchase a used Dutch-made bicycle, used because, unlike in America, typical bikes are very expensive. As I was leaving the shop, the store keeper asked me if I planned to name my…