Ssshhh!

"DAMES EN HEREN...."

I’m American. And yes I talk loudly. I don’t deny that.

But I’ve come to learn that the stereotype that American are loud is misleading. Not because Americans aren’t loud (we are). But because we aren’t the only ones that are loud (nor are we the loudest).

The Dutch, I’ve discovered, are pretty damn loud.

I’ve noticed that two Dutch people, standing side by side, often carry out a conversation as if they were standing in separate rooms, completely oblivious to the fact that they are talking at a volume far in excess of the necessary level.

We live in a flat in central Utrecht, near a busy pedestrian area, and we often leave the window open when the weather is nice. The entire flat echoes with the shouted conversations of passers-by (either sober in the day or drunk at night, they are equally loud). And anyone who has fallen asleep on a Dutch train has probably been jerked awake and startled by the booming announcement of the train conductor, “DAMES EN HEREN….” (“Ladies and Gentlemen…”).

So, we Americans get a bad rap. I don’t think it is so much that Americans are particularly loud as British people (and other cultures like the Japanese) are particularly quiet. In my experience, the Dutch, Italians, Spanish, and Greeks are just as loud as Americans. And during my time living in Africa, I noticed that Tunisians are Somalis are also loud, especially when talking on their cell phones, negotiating prices, or arguing in public. So, speak up!

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About Home Strange Home

I first left the US in 1999, when I was 18 years old. Since then, I’ve spent 13 years living abroad - 3 in Canada, 7 in Europe, and 3 in Africa. Now I've finally returned to the US on a one-way plane ticket. I arrived home in late January 2014 and set foot in the US for the first time in nearly 2.5 years. In Home Strange Home, I blog about the ups and downs of my re-acculturation experience.
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2 Responses to Ssshhh!

  1. Yvette says:

    In my experience in South-Africa I must say the Finnish people are quiet people, but the Zulu and Sotho speaking population is very loud, even compared to the Americans and Dutch. And Germans are also more quiet people.

  2. Laura says:

    Just wanted to leave a message telling you I’m having so much fun reading your blog. I’m myself originally from the Netherlands and have moved to Sweden. On a daily basis I’m in contact with people from all over the world. Which doesn’t just show the differences and the similarities, but especially a bit of self discovery, or learning and loving a country move than I ever did when I lived there.

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