Ok, let’s be honest. 2020 was not an easy year to anyone. For me, it was a year into the lion’s den. But let’s start by the beginning.
The idea is not to complain (I actually shouldn’t even think about it), but instead to make a review of this year, the first one living in the Netherlands.
Now you’ll ask me if I liked it? No. Far from that. Because of the Coronavirus? Yes, partially, but not only.
The year started quite calm and with a certain enthusiasm for knowing a new country and what it would be like to leave that strict and conservative Switzerland to such open-minded country which the Netherlands is known for. At least that was my thought…
A few days before we started to hear about a distant new virus called coronavirus coming to Europe, I was excited to have my mother visiting me for my birthday by the end of February. It was a precious moment to catch up, make her know my new reality and celebrate my 44th birthday (which I only do every 4 years). And I remember she went back home on March 3rd, only a day after the first known case of Coronavirus in the Netherlands. By that time I felt relieved she could go back home safely. I had great expectations for what would come ahead in this new country, not only personally with my wife (and my beloved Ginger The Cat), but also and mainly professionally with new opportunities to come and finally settle down a bit after two uncertain years.
Very quickly after my mother left, the virus started to spread all over Europe and by March 13th, the WHO considered Europe the active centre of the pandemic. From that date onwards, mainly due to the fact I belong to a group of risk, my life changed drastically (as did my wife’s) and I started to see these new opportunities falling apart and my eyes could only see that new country from my 24th floor (thank god I have a great view to the city). I lived in lockdown for 71 days without breathing the outside air until May 17th. However, let’s clarify something. The fact I decided not to go out at all, not even opening my own apartment’s door to get packages (my wife did it), was not because of my health issues, but because I started to understand that the country I thought was open-minded, modern and many other good adjectives I could say, is in fact an ultra-liberal country where every government decision is taken (or not) under the individual freedom of its people. To make it clearer, it took the Dutch government 277 days from the date the first COVID-19 case was declared to make the wear of face masks mandatory. 277 days, 813,765 people infected and 11,565 deaths (official numbers on January 2, 2021). Even until December 2020, in hospitals, doctors and nurses did not wear a face mask. Reason enough for me to isolate myself again and just go out for the strictly necessary (doctor visits) or have a walk outside to avoid becoming insane.
Despite the worldwide spread in the knowledge of this new virus, the Dutch government kept defending the group immunity and that for economic reasons and maintain the individual freedom, face masks would never be mandatory and people should be responsible for its own behaviours. Even when talking about general lockdowns in most European countries, the Netherlands did a two weeks lockdown in April, while its neighbours did close to two months. At some point, Prime Minister Mark Rutte defended, vulnerable people should stay at home since they were not effective enough for the national economy. At the beginning, when going out for a small walk, my wife and myself were looked as if we were sick because we were wearing a face mask.
Enough talking about the Coronavirus, but I obviously got a totally different thought about this country after these behaviours and lack of respect for others, mostly if vulnerable. Remember the incredible movie by he Coen Brother “No Country for Old Men”? I now call the Netherlands ”No Country for Fragile People”.
A year after my arrival, and what a weird and peculiar year, can I still have positive thoughts about the Netherlands? Well, yes, but not that much.
It’s a really nice country to create a business. Easy, cheap and quick. Not being able to apply for any job, after a few months I decided to create my own business in the digital marketing area. 2020 was not the huge year I was expecting, but I have that inner feeling that in 2021 will be a year to expand opportunities and open new doors. In 2020, I probably lost a few years, psychologically speaking, and was able to spend almost a full year, 24/7 with my wife (blessed I am to have her by my side) and I’m sure it reinforced our relationship and trust in each other.
As an overall, 2020 was a quite unusual year that made all of us redefine our own life priorities, rethink about our behaviours and feelings. We all changed something, good or bad, but one thing is guaranteed, we started 2021 thinking differently. As for me, I will not talk about my convictions onwards, but for sure, now more than ever before, I know what is important for me and what should be left behind. Happy 2021!