If I decided to relocate and start a family, there are only two places I would consider: Canada or the Netherlands
Bikes, bikes, and more bikes
Please watch where you walk because a bike rider will have no qualms about running you down if you don’t adhere to the ring of their bell. There are bikes everywhere, probably more than the cars on the road. But I think that speaks volumes about the general health of the country. Apparently the weekly time spent cycling is about 74 minutes per week for Dutch adults of 20 to 90 years old. I also did not see one overweight person over my time. I found it incredibly pleasant seeing whole families riding around to complete their errands together, and groups of friends hanging out and chatting while riding through backstreets. It was almost like a little utopian city until I saw the 2-wheeled road rage. Rather than people flipping each other off and beeping their horns in the comfort and fortitude of their vehicles, people would literally overtake each other while shouting right in each others faces.
The old & authentic
The architecture in Amsterdam was a lot older than what you may find in the cities of the UK. There were no skyscrapers or buildings covered in glass and smooth metal. Instead there were many bricks, stones, and town houses with the steepest austere stair cases you will ever see (maybe thats part of the reason why everyone is in shape lol). Plus, there are brightly coloured flowers everywhere. It really is a picturesque city, so you will have no issues in getting some good pictures for those likes on Instagram.
Smoke it up
I think that the country’s tolerance of drugs is a reflection of the tolerance of their political system. We are taught from a young age that smoking tobacco is basically signing yourself up for an early and painful death by choosing to put cancer into your body. Plus the theft of your physical beauty through the yellowing of your teeth, ageing of your skin, pungent and ever-present smell, and the loss of any sort of cadence in your voice. However, it’s legal and available to us in most supermarkets, shisha bars, and corner shops. It is always a choice. Although some people decide to smoke anyway, many do not because they know the side effects and do not see any attraction to it, or they do so sporadically (Social smokers). Weed, however, is totally different. In my opinion, when something is forbidden it becomes attractive and daring. And because of the nebulous facts surrounding its effects on our health, many become full-blown potheads. If we followed the same rules as the dutch in having weed as a legal substance, I doubt many would be as addicted to it in the UK as there are. I met many young people in the Netherlands who did not smoke at all, or did so socially because its readily available in coffee shops all over the place.
We are young
I honestly thought that people dressed better out there than we do. It was noticeable how much they cover up more than we do, but in a simplistic and colour coordinated way which came across as really modern and stylish. I could see these people being in adverts for IKEA furniture and fitting the cool modern vibe that their brand tries to portray. Similarly, I did not see one black girl with ratchet weave/extensions (In fact I saw many girls with natural hairstyles), nor did I see any black guys who were in desperate need of a shape up.
I also loved the fact that on the one night we went out clubbing, the guys did not force themselves onto any girls. They would make a move but also take a hint without getting defensive when you told them “no”. That level of respect was quite new for me, and not something I had experienced while living and clubbing in the UK or USA.
What I also noticed while going on nights out in the Netherlands was that they are more cultured than we are. We often criticise the American for not taking grime seriously, but we too could be criticised by other European countries for the same thing. Other than the fact that most people there could switch between English and Dutch with impeccable ease, they also listen to grime, american hip hop, and produce their own rap music. On one night out we got talking to a guy who knew more about British music than we did, mentioning artists like ‘Black the Ripper’, who we had never even heard of.
Travelling while black
Many people feel apprehensive about travelling to/ studying abroad in certain European countries because they are suspicious of their treatment of black people, which is a fair apprehension. There are place in Spain where people will stop and stare, and Germany where politically incorrect terms to describe black people are in common use. I personally do not think black people should avoid such places to prevent such treatment, because it is quite simply a lack of knowledge of ‘other’. If you rarely see or interact with another race then how can you learn and have you views challenged? But if you are interested in race within the Netherlands then heres a good video to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hkK5s-_-ys
By Priscilla McGregor-Kerr