Someone asked me why I buy and bring back so much stuff from the US. Isn’t Dutch stuff good enough? The answer is, lots of reasons, depending on the kind of stuff.
- Clothing: It’s a lot cheaper in the US, and also, I’m just too small to fit into a lot of Dutch clothes. (Actually, Ted got his work trousers, shirts, and a couple of suits tailor-made for him when we lived in Taiwan, and he gets more now and then on trips back there. Can’t beat handmade!)
- Electronics: The same stuff is available, but it’s much cheaper in the US.
- Food: I bring back a bag of my favorite pretzels whenever we go, because here all they have is “zoutsticks”, little pretzel sticks. They’re too small to be satisfying and so I eat too many. I also get pretzels whenever we’re in Germany. There’s lots of candy and cookies available here but I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Also, we stock up on Clif Bars and protein bars and Luna bars because they don’t sell them here (except Powerbars at a few specialty stores). They give you a bit of nutrition without upsetting your stomach and we find them extremely useful when you need to eat something before sports, say on a regatta day. Dutch people tend to eat plain bread for this or ‘breakfast breads’ but since the bars have protein in them and are a little denser, I think they relieve hunger and stay with you better, without taking much volume.
- Over-the-counter meds: Here’s where it gets complicated, because there are a bunch of reasons:
- Things they don’t have here. They don’t have Nyquil or an equivalent. It’s not that it relieves cold symptoms better than anything else, it’s that it puts you to sleep while doing so and lets you (me, anyway) wake up without being groggy. So helpful when you have a cold!
- Things that are cheaper here. They have multivitamins here, including our usual brand, but they cost a lot more.
- Things I don’t understand. It’s not you, Dutch products, it’s me – as far as I can tell, things like Claritin (for allergies) and Excedrin (for migraines) aren’t sold here but have close or exact equivalents, but I can’t read the box fluently enough to be sure. Especially when I’m sick!
- Things we just like better. We prefer the taste of Crest (not sold outside the US, for some reason) over Colgate or Aquafresh (sold in Europe and Asia). As far as I know, they’re all equally effective, this is just a subjective preference. (Actually, this is no longer true – these days we are getting old and we use a Dutch brand of toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. In fact, we have a tube of Sensadyne at the Oregon hose and I think the Dutch stuff works better. It tastes faintly of licorice, though.) On the other hand, I’ve been using Q-Tip brand (cotton swabs) since I began buying my own consumables; they have more cotton on the tips than any other brand I’ve used in the US or anywhere else. Other brands just feel like you’re inserting a sharp stick in your ear and don’t seem to have enough fluff thee to either clean or dry them.
So the short version is, I buy US stuff when either they don’t have it or I can’t fit it here, or when it’s much cheaper in the US, or when I just like a particular brand better. Or when I’m too stupid to figure out the equivalent Dutch product.