In my country, it is very common to have a nap in the office after lunch, especially in summer. Apparently, people in The Netherlands don’t have that custom, possibly because they only eat a simple sandwich instead of a hot meal, or because they drink a lot of coffee.
Illustration Henk van Ruitenbeek
It took me quite a long time to get used to the Dutch custom of staying awake the whole day. And sometimes, after a crazy night or really exhausting meeting, I still want to nap at my table for a few minutes to get my energy back. But it never works here. Usually I am woken up by the polite but persistent sound of a voice calling my name: ‘Danny, Danny, are you okay?’ If I keep ignoring it, it is often followed by a tap on my shoulder until I respond. Those nice Dutch people are really surprised when I stare at them with red eyes and tell them I am just sleepy.
I visited Japan once and saw with my own eyes that people there even sleep standing up in the metro. So I do think the people in the office could leave me alone while I sleep briefly at my desk. Disturbing my nap like that is actually making me not okay! I am considering putting a sticky note with the text ‘sleeping’ on my forehead next time. Mind you, they might then wake me up to ask: ‘Why is there a paper on your forehead, and are you okay?’
Ying – ‘Danny’ – Deng, a PhD candidate in Food Immunology, from China
Do you have a nice anecdote about your experience going Dutch? Send it in! Describ an encounter with Dutch culture in detail and comment on it briefly. 300 words max. Send it to email@example.com and earn twenty-five euros and Dutch candy.