Thursday, April 25, 2013
Speak English in Holland
If there is a country which can boast of having the most avant-garde social legislation in the world, it is Holland. Even though there are bouts of racism, homophobia or hooliganism, it is common knowledge that The Netherlands are at the cutting edge as a welfare state: multiracial integration, same-sex marriages, the right to euthanasia, a multilingual education system, an extended bike culture, regulation of stimulant consumption, etc. On top of that, the absence of nationalistic tensions within Dutch society has made it one of the places where the European spirit is better felt. To put it bluntly, this scenario is a far cry from that found in countries where Latin machismo has devastating consequences.
The Dutch are a hospitable people by nature and they seem to have managed to blend Northern European efficiency with Mediterranean joie de vivre and friendliness. After travelling in Holland, I have realised that cities like Amsterdam are a paradise for every student of English for two very simple reasons: a) most nationals speak fluent English (and they are rightly proud of this), thereby giving foreign visitors an excellent chance to practise it; and b) the euro has made travelling and living in Holland much easier because we now use the same currency.
As I said, I don’t mean to offer a rose-tinted picture of this little big country. However, we Europeans might do well to learn one or two things from our Dutch partners. Let’s turn the EU a bit more orange, shall we?