Tiny Spoons and Other Cultural Differences

I’ve been in Amsterdam for a little over a week now. It’s beautiful. The weather has been great, the food and people amazing, and the architecture is charming. I’ve been working on becoming a true Amsterdammer (I bought a bike!), but spend a week in a new country and you find differences.

First, tiny spoons. When I arrived, my housing company provided me with bedding and cookware. I knew what everything was, except for a tiny spoon. This tiny spoon is a dessert spoon…and apparently Americans are the only ones who don’t use them. I’m sure there is someone in the States who has a whole drawer of these spoons, but I have never seen one in my life. All the Europeans I was surrounded by were completely shocked because apparently using a “normal spoon” to eat ice cream is an abomination (joking, of course-they all found it very amusing). This then turned into how we don’t have special spoons to stir our coffee, teaspoons (which I had to explain were a unit of measurement), etc. My use of a soup spoon had some redemption.

The Dutch are very direct. If you make a mistake, especially when driving your bike, you will know it. Thankfully I’ve gotten by with only a few dirty glances shot my direction. Also, the use of cash here is way more prominent than in the US. Certain places, like grocery stores, only take cash and most places don’t take credit card.

My bike, Dutchess

The biggest difference that will take me awhile to get used to is the lack of availability to water. In the US, it’s a law that an establishment must give you tap water. Here, most places won’t give it to you for free, if at all. There are also less public water fountains. You may be thinking, just go to a convenience store. Those don’t exist either. I have yet to see a 7-11 equivalent and most places are closed by 10PM or 1AM. In other words, I must plan my snacks.

Now of course none of these culture shocks have been bad. Most have been funny and provide an insight into a new culture. I may have to “adjust” my style of living but that’s part of the adventure. In fact, the other day I used my tiny spoon to eat some ice cream.


I am a senior at UMD study abroad at the University of Amsterdam in Amsterdam, the Netherlands for the fall semester. I am originally from southern California but have been living on the east coast for the past seven years. I double major in International Business and Ops Management and Business Analytics.

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1 Response

  1. Shelly Stinchcomb says:

    I love your sense of adventure and abily to find humour in the differences. These traits will make for a wonderful semester.