Getting used to a new currency always takes some time. Well at least for me, since for 22 years of my life I’ve never been using anything but Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). When I was a kid, my aunt from California often sent us US$ (through those precious Christmas cards!), but then we would bring it to the money changer to exchange it to IDR. So you can imagine how awkward it was for me to be using Euro for daily transactions, especially during the first few weeks in the Netherlands.
I think the transition would have been smoother if you’re using US$ and then switch to the € or the other way around, since the denomination of the two currencies is quite similar. But IDR has so many zeros! For example, €1 would worth around Rp. 12.000. With Rp. 12.000 you can only buy a bar of chocolate. That means the normal daily transactions can go up to millions of rupiahs per day. (More explanation about IDR currency & inflation, go here).
So yes, I guess I can blame all the IDR zeros for my awkwardness in using € for the first time. But to be fair to my dear IDR, I have to honestly say that sometimes it’s just me who have problem in weighing how much a thing would cost in €. Well, in my defense, that only happened in the beginning. And I take comfort in knowing that I wasn’t the only one who had such problem 😀
On our second or third weekend in the Netherlands, along with a couple of friends we went for our first trip to the Open Market. We haven’t received our monthly allowance yet, so money was tight. But my friend and I saw this cute white turtle neck sweater that looked so comfy. The material was good as well, and we were certain that no one would know that we bought it from the open market 🙂
The thing about open market was that they don’t always display the price, so we had no idea about how much the sweater would cost. My friend, who always had a strong impulse on buying stuffs, decided to ask the Turkish lady who owned the stall. We can’t speak Dutch and the lady can’t speak good English. So with hand gestures she kept repeating “one-five.”
We were puzzled. Does she meant one sweater for five euro? Or one euro for five sweaters? No, that would be too cheap, we agreed on that. Somehow we confidently arrived at a conclusion that she meant 1.5 euro for 1 sweater! It’s a market, so everything is supposed to be cheap, right? And oh, don’t forget to haggle! She might be willing to give it for een euro!
But wait… we had a feeling something wasn’t right. So my friend went to her again and said, “Excuse me, is this really one and a half euro? One euro fifty cents?” Suddenly the lady seemed angry and she wailed: “1.5 EURO??? GO AND BUY BANANA WITH YOUR 1.5 EURO!!!”
We were confused. What’s with the attitude? Why does she seem to be so offended?
We just left, thinking that that the lady was acting crazy. Until we saw another vendor that sells similar sweater, with a cardboard sign that says €15. Number one and number five. It means FIFTEEN!!!
Oops,… now we got it. Come on, Chysant. Even in a market, there’s no way that a sweater would worth 5 euro, 1.5 euro, or 1 euro! No wonder that the lady was so upset with us, lol!!! Please excuse our stupidity 😀
Euro image from forexnewsnow.com.