What can you learn from the Dutch

Блог Listen to your broccoli Чему учиться у голландцев

This is my top list of Dutch traits that can be useful. I have learned this after living 10 years in the Netherlands.


Блог Listen to your broccoli Планирование

The Dutch are gurus of planning. At work, this is clear and expected, but in day-to-day life this is something unbelievable. If I start to think about the summer holiday only after I see the sun shining and reminding me of the coming summer, the Dutch start to plan their next summer vacation right after they came back from the current one. That felt like robots to me. Everyone has planners and agendas, notebooks, google calendars with filled-in children vacations, hobbies, family events, personal projects, courses.

Not so long ago a Dutch lady at my dance class said: yesterday I sat down to plan the year and I wanted to know if our dance class will continue on Wednesdays.


10 years ago I looked at people who took out their fat planners and notebooks and start to look for a free date when you ask them for a coffee with amusement. And yes that date could be a Thursday in two months.

Later I realized that there is rationale in this and it all makes sense. I always thought: why plan? Everything will be different tomorrow. And yet I came to an understanding that in most cases tomorrow you will have what you have planned. And if you want to be having coffee with someone in two months, you have to plan it today.

One more reason for all that planning is that the Dutch are very active people outside of working hours. They have a lot of hobbies and activities: salse, local volunteering, courses, workshops, so they are forced to plan. And yes, all these extra activities are one more point to learn from them.


Shake Hands 

Oh, all these uncomfortable moments in the beginning. I was feeling so awkward and confused. I think it took me several months to understand: It is absolutely common for women to shake hands the same way men do. Women do shake hands when introduced, both women and women and men and women. In the culture where I come from women do not ever shake hands, they just smile:).

Do not wear heels 

On the third day of my Dutch life, I needed to go to a wedding party. I glamorously entered this party on a motorbike in a short skirt on high heels. On a bike because we did not have a car, on the heels because it was a wedding and in a short skirt because I had no clue about motor-bikes. I never wore these high heals again. And after five years I threw them away.



Spend and value your time outside 

The Dutch are fond of outside terraces of cafes, their small gardens, any outside activities. Right after something looking like sun appears after the winter, they start to brag about the fact that they already managed to ‘sit outside in their garden’.

Drink wine alone, burn candles and buy flowers, not for romance 

Блог Listen to your broccoli Чему стоит поучиться у голландцев

Maybe my life in Belarus was different or time was different, but we never drank wine just at home with appetizers or just a glass of wine. The wine was always at feasts and parties and it was inappropriate to leave the bottle unfinished.

Burning candles and generally having them at home was not common. Buying flowers in the supermarket just among your normal groceries was double uncommon for me.

Burning candles not for romance but for your own pleasure? Uncommon.

Talk positively about yourself publicly

This needs a separate post! 


Listen to yourself and be aware of your wishes


I never could take this for a reason: ‘I like it, it is fun, I am going to see if it will be fun’. I all the time thought: are we allowed to consider this as a reason? a point? Are all these ‘I like it’ a reason to do something or not to do? It’s work! These are your responsibilities! I was so envious to these people and how many hours of self-reflection I still need to be able to hear what I want.

So how do you like the Dutch?:)


Public speaking. Three moments when you should not forget about body language

Блог Listen to your broccoli Публичные выступления


“Just do not take a tight grip of your two hands together and do not stand like this the whole speech” – these are the words I was telling myself during my first speeches in the public speaking club where I am trying to become a Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

All my knowledge about public speaking back then could be summarized in a couple of words: move on the stage and do not lock your hands.

Each speech in our club is evaluated by an evaluator who is appointed to your speech. I often hear from my evaluators that I need to use the entire space of the stage and move a bit from one side to another. But not just walk from one side to another as I did during my first speech, almost showing my back as I literally walked. But do it without losing contact with the audience.  Gradually you also learn not to close your hands and men learn not to put them into the pockets. And then, your hands are not locked, you keep them open and you start to do simple movements with them, which by itself is good, but becomes very repetitive similar and boring. So what to do? How to make your hand movements better? One of the tricks is to connect them with your story.



So you get it, the material is not good, otherwise, I would be able to come up with something. 

Блог Listen to your broccoli Публичные выступления

My speech at the public speaking club Toastmasters, Utrecht, the Netherlands


My last speech was a eulogy, praise for a person who is usually dead. This type of speech wasn’t my own choice. At our club, we follow a kind of program and one of the projects of this program is Social Speeches. I had to do two speeches for 4 minutes. But they should be of different types. One was a toast and another one is a eulogy.

I checked famous people who died last year and chose the founder of Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad and devoted my speech to him.

…Buying Christmas presents at a sale after Christmas? Who does this? Well, one of the richest people in the world and one of the greatest businessmen in the world. We could even call it greed if we would not know that this was part of the philosophy and values of IKEA founder – Ingvar Kamprad.


I talked about how he is a billionaire still buys Christmas presents at an after-Christmas sale. How he was always focused on cost-cutting, even design of products was focused around cost-cutting, that he had dyslexia and this still did not stop him from opening his business at 17 years old. He also had alcoholism all his life and still, he managed to run the company till his very old age. And how once he was loading furniture into a car for a photoshoot and thought that it would be much easier if it would be without legs and he implemented the whole idea into a self-assembling approach for the furniture (yes, and we all now have an amazing experience of assembling Ikea furniture).


A person who evaluated my speech is much more experienced in public speaking at least and he saw the potential right away:

  • if you say, ‘I am going to tell three things’, then show three with your hands
  • if you are talking about a special design of a cup, show it with your hands. If you talk about furniture, table, cutting legs of the table, show this cutting movement with your hands.
  • if you mention an object, always use your hands to show size and shape.

It appeared that my speech was ideal for showing rich body language. Shapes, sizes, and numbers should be always supported by body language in addition to words and I missed this completely.

8 best tv series about women

Блог Listen to your broccoli Сериал Большая маленькая ложь

Is there such a thing as tv series for women? In general, I do not like ‘for women’ stuff, but I did not manage to brand this list differently. These are good tv series for women and about women that I watched recently and recommend.

Big Little Lies

Two seasons about women, relationships, the psychology of living together. The starring cast includes Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep who joined in Season 2.

It is based on the book by Liane Moriarty, an Australia writer, that has quite a short biography in Wikipedia. The story in the book unfolds in Sydney, which of course was moved to the US in the show.

I like everything about this tv series. I cannot put my eyes off the opening song and video even. The actresses are so natural, that you easily believe they are friends in life (and maybe they are?).

Reasons to watch: I was about to say in order to see that the rich also cry. But the movie attracted me by its imperfect beauty of people. However, in reality, it was filmed to spotlight home violence issues.

The Affair

Блог Listen to your broccoli Сериал Любовники

Long interesting experiment (five seasons). First, they caught my attention by depicting the same situations twice. First through the eyes of one character and then another. Literally, showing the events several times. The events are the same but perceptions, emotions and conversations are different. In the beginning, it felt exciting, then annoying. As if there is no reality at all and people see completely different things. Then even creators of the series forgot about their idea and continued to develop a story. The story went on and on and I could not keep the story in my head anymore. And I could not drop it either. These strange people became so familiar and close to me, so I really wanted to know how it will all end. Now I know.

Reasons to watch: no positive characters, no clarity. Only danger and tension. If you like such stuff, watch it.


Блог Listen to your broccoli Сериал Невероятное

It is difficult to recommend this show. It is about rape. It can come across as boring and slow. And after watching it I read that it is based on the completely true story (so I do not expect the second season). And then you start to perceive everything differently and it feels like everyone should be watching this almost documentary story.

Reasons to watch: detective stories are always captivating and if it is a true detective story, it is even more like that. 


Блог Listen to your broccoli Сериал Дрянь

I would really be sorry if someone watches the first episode and does not continue. I have almost dropped it after the first episode because it felt too comic. It is easy to make the conclusion that it will be too superfluous. However, I continued and got caught in it because the actress is so engaging. She has this trick of all the time talking to the audience as if we are there in her reality. Also, it was eye-opening to see the British way of communicating (actually of not communicating). Very clumsy warmness. Relationship of two sisters.

Reasons to watch: Loneliness and relationships in the British style, British humor, very light and very tragic and a very special actress. I came to know that the show is based on the one actor theatre play. I would be happy to watch it one day. 

This is us

Блог Listen to your broccoli Сериал Это мы

The series is positioned a real life of an ordinary family which is not very ordinary. Full of not perfect people. It is filled with a lot of flashbacks. We follow a couple of parents that got a triplet and try to bring the up and survive the parenting journey.

Reasons to watch: see how family values look like without a smug.

Morning Show

Блог Listen to your broccoli Сериал Утреннее Шоу

After Big Little Lies I would be eager to watch any tv series with Reese Witherspoon. This one is about a morning news show on tv. I do not even know how important is tv for people? Is it still important and influential? At least in this series, they do show it is important. Several years ago I watched Newsroom and I really liked it. Though I can imagine it is not for everyone. It is made of fast-talking and political philosophy. I expected something similar from the Morning Show, something critical and political, but it appeared to be more simple.

Reasons to watch: it is very trendy, and liked by many. 

The Crown

Блог Listen to your broccoli Сериал Корона


The number of movies and series about the British Royal family is endless. They will continue to film them and others will continue to watch it. However, the challenge is still there, how to make a movie about the Queen who is there and is going to watch the show about herself? The actors have a great resemblance to the prototypes. Well, she is watching it herself and I recommend you watch it.

Reasons to watch: watch it in order to feel happy that you are not a member of the royal family and you are not responsible for the nation, and that you have freedom. And also watch five scenes that will sparkle your interest. 

The Marvellous Mrs Maisel

Listen to your broccoli Сериал Удивительная Миссис Мейзел

Amazing story about a female stand-up comedian. A story of a happy housewife who entered the career of professional comic, right into the completely male world in the fifties.

Reasons to watch: Everyone has its own reasons: dresses, interior designs, family drama, love story, but for me, it is all about public speaking and friendship of such different people (read here for more).

Have fun watching and share your recommendations! 


What to buy in Holland

Блог Listen to your broccoli | сувениры из Голландии

What to buy in Holland? A lot of travelers who feel like taking a piece of the country they are visiting home ask this question to themselves.

I am sharing my shortlist for the Dutch stuff. I am not a ‘souvenirs’ person, so things I recommend are normal things that Dutch people also buy in standard Dutch shops like bookstores, Albert Hein (Dutch supermarkets chain), De Bijenkorf (‘Dutch Harrods’).

Stuff from Bookstores

  • “The Netherlands”, book by Charlotte Dematons. This book is amazing and can be stared at endlessly. It’s a book with drawings and in each picture, you can see hundreds of details and stories about the Netherlands. A truck is not just a truck, it is either full of Dutch traditional waffles or it has an image of a famous person of the Dutch literature whose name became a symbol of fair trade for former Dutch colonies. You can also find a visual representation of many Dutch traditions: for example a tradition of swimming in the sea on 1st January.


  • Books for children: these are always nice presents to bring back as they are full of images (called ‘prentenboeken’ in Dutch), so no one has to actually know Dutch to read them. The difficulty is that you have to search good enough not to get a translated book (just because then it loses the point).


  • Diaries: The Dutch are gurus of planning and their bookstores are full of diaries of any possible format. You can always find a notebook with paintings of Dutch artists, interesting quotes, cartoons and you will always remember where and how you started that year.

Souvenirs from supermarkets

My universal advice is if you do not know what, give chocolate or food as a present:

  • Waffles with caramel syrop (stroopwafels) can be bought anywhere and better in a nice colorful can. It is also possible to buy the can separately from waffles. I doubt that whoever gets this colorful can will dare to throw it away after waffles are consumed. And do not forget to educate: the waffle is to be put on the cup of the hot tea so that the waffle will become softer and tastier.


  • ‘Delicate’ chocolate from Albert Hein: with fried corn, with jalapeno pepper, with cocos, with red curry, with rice pieces, with wasabi and strawberry.


  • Douwe Egberts coffee: well, coffee is coffee what is there to say more.

Souveniers from De Bijenkorf

It is very convenient that in the main luxe shop of the Netherlands, you can buy a lot of nice Dutch stuff. So let’s visit the Dutch Harrods, called ‘De Bijenkorf’:

  • A mug from Blond Amsterdam or Pipstudio: Mugs are my weakness and looking for an ideal mug is my favorite challenge. It is even better than looking for a perfect diary.
  • A water bottle  — a very healthy lifestyle, very Dutch, very eco, very bio. Your individual bottle for water that you always have with you and will always remind you of your nice trip.
  • Rituals — body cosmetics with most aromatic smells. These retail chain is growing like mad and is everywhere and come and visit them and see what are they so successful.
  • And the blooming almond by Van Gogh is beautiful no matter where they are printed on, even it is on a shopper bag.


Dublin. What to see

Блог Listen to your broccoli Дублин

‘Old woolen wrap’ – this is a Dublin metaphor for me. A bit worn out thing, nothing special, but so close to the heart that I would want to roll myself into it, sit next to the window with a glass of whiskey and read a book on a long rainy day. And not hurry. And in the evening I would go to a pub and again, I will not hurry.

Honestly, there is not so much to ‘see’ in Dublin, in Dublin you need to ‘do‘. And there is always something to do.


  • Go to a theatre, concert, show. The fact that Ireland is English speaking is a nice advantage for travelers. That means we can go to theatres and other events for locals and enjoy them. For example, interactive theatre VaultsLive or Irish dance show in Gaiety Theatre or just go for a pub crawl and talk to bartenders. You can be strolling from a pub to a pub endlessly. And you will come across dancing, live music (Irish music or different other types).


  • Visit the new museum of emigration ‘EPIC’. This is an interesting example of a modern museum when it is not about objects but about storytelling. You are taken through a story and it feels like someone is holding your hand. As we were told by the hostess of the B&B we stayed, every Irish has some relatives in America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada who emigrated there and that’s why this museum is so relevant to the country.
Blog Listen to your broccoli Dublin

A double-deck bus in the centre of Dublin


  • Get a ride on a double-deck bus. As any European capital has tourist buses, but I am not sure they are of any need as normal city buses are also double-deck and very pretty.


  • Visit Trinity college area and skip the Long Room library. Wherever you are trying to go in Dublin, you will end up at Trinity College. In the inner yard of the college, you can join an excursion that is organized by students of the college themselves (15 Euro). You will learn a lot of interesting stuff, but you will not get inside anything:). You will see the canteen building where the best students can have dinner for free and have a right for a pint of Guinness every evening. They say it looks pretty much like the one in Harry Potter. You will also learn that the oldest dormitory does not have heating, that to reach the showers you have to go outside and that, of course, there is a ghost that lives on-premises. Trinity College is famous for its Long Room (a library), it was also used as an inspiration for the Harry Potter movie. However, I would not recommend going inside the Lond Room. Crowded, way too crowded to enjoy anything. The same advice about the Book of Kells, do not go to see it, pointless.


  • Take photos of as many doors as possible. Dublin is very proud of its Georgian doors. They are very ‘Instagramable’. You can spend the entire day photographing them. And if I would need to tell what is the color of Dublin, I would say, it is red!


  • Drink as many different types of whiskey as possible. Even if you do not like whiskey, you will have to fall in love with it at least for a bit, if you are in Dublin. The city has several museums of whiskey, also Irish Whiskey Museum. The Irish are very proud of their tradition of whiskey production and they are very jealous that Scots got more advanced with it because they picked up some technology trick that Irish decided to ignore.


  • Visit Church restaurant and follow a self-guided excursion. This church was closed for restoration for several years and when it was opened, everyone saw that nothing has changed inside except the bar installed in the middle. In the evenings they have music and Irish dancing. There is a short brochure for a self-guided excursion that is accessible to everyone.


Even if you do not prepare your trip beforehand, Dublin is a very tourist-friendly city. Everywhere, in all hotels, restaurants, museums you will find leaflets and small sightseeing cards (one for each sight) and there are lots of them. You can create your own itinerary within 15 minutes.