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Russians about European people and culture

21.01.2022
"European medicine is strange" we say, "there is no preventive approach. They treat people with who knows what."

That's right. In the Netherlands, you can't go to the house doctor with a fever and a cough. The ambulance will only come if both your legs have stopped responding, your eyes won't open, your phone has burned out and you can’t call the taxi, and your entire social circle is permanently boycotting you (which means there is no one to drive you to the hospital and carry you on their back through the trenches to the emergency room). For insomnia, a broken leg and hemorrhoids you will first be prescribed paracetamol, if you are particularly lucky then expect diclofenac.

And there is one more thing. The average life expectancy is 82, one of the highest in Europe.

My seventy-year-old acquaintance Anneke sighs: "I had a joint replaced in my left hip a month ago. Well, I still will be able to ride my bike to the store, but getting to the grandchildren in another city (ten kilometers away) is gonna be difficult. 

"HOW DO YOU GIVE BIRTH IN THE NETHERLANDS? THEY DON'T EVEN LET YOU REST AFTER".

I nod. From the maternity ward you will be released in 3-4 hours after you have delivered to this world a new life, go on your feet to the shower after childbirth and upload to instagram a picture of your baby heels. And then on the dotted line - maternity at 16 weeks, crackers for lunch and other ‘horror movies’.

There's also no glossing over postpartum depression.

Dutch fathers often cut back on work hours and babysit at least one day a week (and also get up to the newborns at night, change diapers and hang out at playgrounds).

"EUROPEANS ARE CLOSED-MINDED PEOPLE, THEY LACK A SOULFULNESS," WE SAY.

And I totally agree. In Vladimir Kunin's book "Interdevochka," Edward Larsen asks his Russian wife not to run to her neighbors for salt and never ask anyone for anything.

"In Leningrad it would have never come to my head whether it was convenient or inconvenient to ask a neighbor for a pinch of salt or a piece of bread! In a coffin and in white slippers (expression of contempt, hatred for someone or something) I meant such national peculiarities, when everyone around smiles, but they themselves are figuring out - where to kick more painfully!" - explodes (with emotions) the heroine of the book, who is later brilliantly played by Elena Yakovleva.

High five. My neighbor once called the police because she was disturbed by the barking of my three-month-old puppy. "May you run out of paracetamol at home, you vervelend wijf,", - thought I while politely explaining myself to the men in uniform.

However... About half of the adult population in the Netherlands is involved in volunteer work in one way or another. That is, to summarize, eight million people truly believe that they should give some of their time and energy to make life a little better for others. 

Volunteering in the Netherlands is a bit like religion, however you won't burn in the hell for your mistakes.

Many Russian-speaking expats reproach the Dutch for being too private. They don't have our breadth of soul and soulfulness. This is partly true. People in the Netherlands are indeed much more rational than we are but they are not callous, no. They just look at human tragedies differently. And when we are wringing our hands and weeping, they calmly organize a clothing collection point, sort it carefully and send it to the address.

BECAUSE OF THE SHORT MATERNITY LEAVE, MANY MOTHERS PUT THEIR CHILDREN IN THE NURSERY AT 3-4 MONTHS OF AGE, CONDEMNING THEM, IN OUR OPINION, TO A JOYLESS AND HORRIBLE CHILDHOOD.

But there's something else to know. It is Dutch children who are regularly recognized by UNICEF as the happiest in the world.

In 2020, the Netherlands was again in the first place in overall score, as well as in the top spot in children's mental health, social and learning skills.

The closest countries to the champion (Netherlands) were Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and Finland.

"The study was thorough. In particular, it evaluated education, health care, obesity, time spent with gadgets, suicides, infant mortality and school bullying," explained Anastasia Hassenbeick, creator of the Living in the Netherlands project, in a related article.

___

It's not about good and bad countries.

It's about the fact that every situation has two sides. Moving to a country with a high standard of living is still fraught with an emigration crisis in the first year in 80% of cases. Europeans who don't take off their shoes when they enter the house just haven't seen the November slush in St. Petersburg. Birthdays without our customary large feasts speak not of the greed of the invitee, but of a different cultural code.

By Victoria Hoogland