How breaking eggs can improve your Dutch
Most people who walk down Damrak hardly notice the profound - and clearly visible - message on the Grasshopper coffee shop: "De cost gaet voor de baet uyt" (in modern Dutch "De kost gaat voor de baat uit"). In English: "the cost precedes the benefit" or even better "you cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs."
Is it an "official warning" for people that enter the Red Light district? We don’t know. But once you realise that the building is very close to the Amsterdam Stock Market Exchange, the message becomes a bit more relevant: in order to invest, you have to break some eggs.. Only then can you can get your well deserved omelet..
So, who are the investors? The answer is simple: you, me, and all the other people around us. Aren’t we all investors that constantly seek ways to improve our lives? In order to improve or gain anything, shouldn’t we first invest or give?
The chicken or the egg?
The same applies to practically everything. Think about employment for instance. You need the right education and that is something most people understand and accept. But what about Dutch? Don’t you need to speak Dutch to get a better job? Don’t you need to break some eggs in order to chase your dream position?
But breaking eggs does not sound attractive if you are not sure that you will get an omelet in return. And here comes the tricky part: will you get that job if you speak Dutch, or even worse, don’t you first need a job to finance the expenses of language learning so you can get a better job? It’s like a mind game and in fact, one of the most important reasons people do not invest in learning Dutch.
But we all know the answer, don’t we?
Of course, we do. Learning Dutch is another "skill" just like work experience and education. Why invest in those and not on learning the local language which in turn can boost your confidence and, apart from shaping your career the way you want, accelerate your integration and make your life so much easier?
Even if you find a good job regardless, you will soon realise that you don’t have enough time to catch up with your new position and learn the language (which will in turn allow you to progress further). So, why don’t you use your free time to reach a higher level now?
Take that risk!
Both companies and entrepreneurs follow the same rule: when business is slow, they invest. But isn’t learning a business investment? Is there any difference between you and the entrepreneur who takes risks in order to stick to the plan, even if he / she cannot afford it at the moment?
So, next time that you walk down Damrak, take a look at the message and consider for a moment that cost always precedes benefit. Or better, remember that you cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs. The fear of losing should not stop us from pursuing our dreams.
In fact, maybe they should replace the message with the English proverb. It might be a good idea for tourists to read it too :)
Albert Both is a specialist on learning Dutch fast and gaining Dutch fluency while having fun.