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Why is the Netherlands the best country?: on country comparisons regarding the economics of the family: S. Gustafsson
Amsterdam University Press | ISBN: 905629511X, 9789056295110 | 2008 | PDF (OCR) | 44 pages | 3.92 Mb
Many times during the 18 years that I lived and worked in Amsterdam and travelled between Stockholm and Amsterdam I was asked this question: Are there any differences between Sweden and the Netherlands?
I have my heart and my home in both cities, in both cultures, in both languages. When in the Netherlands, I watch the Dutch eight o'clock news, There is seldom anything about Sweden. When Dutch people think or talk about foreign countries (het buitenland), it is mostly Belgium, France, Germany or England, in that order. The Dutch TV weather reporters Erwin Krol or Marjon de Hond often put their finger somewhere on the map of northem Sweden and say with a mixture of relief and fascination that in the far north (her hoge Noorden), it is already freezing. When I'm in Amsterdam, I read Ons Amsterdam, a magazine about the city, its past and present. I have become an Amsterdam expert, and I love telling American visitors that the 'New Church' was built around i4oo and the old church is at least from 1300 (Carasso-Kok (ed.), 2004). I skated on the canals in the 1990's when there was natural ice in Holland. I bike on the dike, I greet the spring at Keukenhof, I wave the Dutch flag on Liberation day (the 5th of May). I have greemt returning Dutch Olympic athletics with Valentin in the Binnenhof in The Hague. I stood along the crowd lining the streets of Amsterdam to watch the golden coach at the wedding of Maxima and Willem-Alexander on February 2, 2002.
There are other Swedes in the Netherlands. At least three Swedish ambassadors have come and gone during my time he and invited me to the Swedish Embassy on the Lange Voorhout in The Hague for nice lunches, receptions and dinners. There is a Swedish dub that organizes Swedish gatherings on the Kings birthday, Midsummer and Lucia. I never went to any of these events to meet with Swedes who live their Swedish lives in the Netherlands. I wanted to lead my Dutch life when I'm in Amsterdam.
When I'm in Stockholm, I lead my Swedish life, and I do not know what happens here. Yes, I know that one can watch Swedish news on the Internet from Amsterdam and vice versa, that is not the point. There are opportunity costs of time also for TV viewing. Swedish media are as silent about the Netherlands as Dutch media are about Sweden. Even more silent. I never saw a Swedish weather reporter put a finger on the map of the Netherlands saying: `And here in the Netherlands it is raining.'