Adapting to a new culture can be both thrilling and difficult, yet it is also a fascinating journey. Having moved from the other side of the globe to study in Amsterdam, our student blogger Jihaan shares some of the customs and traditions she has encountered in the Netherlands that are the most different to her home country, Indonesia.
Adapting to a new culture can be both thrilling and difficult. It necessitates adapting to a new environment, customs, and traditions. As someone who has had the opportunity to reside in two countries with vastly distinct cultures, Indonesia and the Netherlands, I can attest to the fact that this has been a fascinating journey.
What a stunning city!
The beauty of the Dutch metropolis, Amsterdam, is one of the most remarkable aspects of the Netherlands. The city is renowned for its beautiful architecture, picturesque canals, and thriving culture. The delightful streets are adorned with refined structures, and the city teems with activity. Amsterdam's history and culture are extensive, and there is always something new to discover.
However, the Dutch weather is a subject of much debate. Some people enjoy the temperate climate and four distinct seasons, while others find it gloomy and rainy. Arriving from Indonesia, where the climate is tropical, I had to adapt significantly to the weather in the Netherlands. I was required to learn how to dress adequately for the unpredictable frigid and rainy weather. However, the changing seasons in the Netherlands offer their own charm, with gorgeous flowers in the spring, sunny days in the summer, vibrant foliage in the fall, and snow in the winter.
The appreciation of art is one aspect of Dutch culture that I particularly admire. Some of the world's most renowned artists reside in the Netherlands, including Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Johannes Vermeer. Numerous museums, galleries, and exhibitions comprise the flourishing art scene in Amsterdam. The Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and Stedelijk Museum are a few of my favourite cultural attractions in Amsterdam.
With a vast network of railroads, buses, and trams, the Netherlands' transportation system is remarkably efficient. Cycling is a favourite pastime of the Dutch, and it's a fantastic way to explore the city and surrounding countryside. I was surprised by the number of cyclists in Amsterdam, which is a wonderful way to remain active and reduce your carbon footprint. Additionally, public transportation is very inexpensive, and the OV-chipkaart system makes travelling throughout the country simple.
Proximity to Nature
Despite being a vibrant metropolis, Amsterdam is situated near nature. There are many opportunities to escape the city and explore the countryside, as the city is encircled by gorgeous parks. The Amsterdamse Bos is an expansive forest that is ideal for hiking, cycling, and picnicking. The nearby beaches of Zandvoort and Bloemendaal are also well-liked by both locals and visitors.
Compared to my existence in Indonesia, the culture of the Netherlands is considerably more reserved and less hierarchical. Respect for elders is essential in Indonesia, and numerous customs and traditions regulate social interactions. In contrast, the Dutch communicate in a much more direct and frank manner. They typically convey their thoughts and opinions without reservation. Despite the fact that this distinction can occasionally cause tension, I appreciate the directness of the Dutch communication style.
Another important distinction is the culinary culture. Indonesian cuisine is renowned for its complex and fiery flavours, whereas Dutch cuisine is typically simpler and less peppery. Additionally, the Dutch tend to consume smaller portions and a diet that is richer in vegetables and dairy products. While I mourn the flavours of Indonesian cuisine, I've grown to appreciate the freshness and simplicity of Dutch cuisine.
Cross-cultural adaptation can be difficult, but it is also an opportunity to learn and develop. Living in the Netherlands has taught me to value the grandeur of a distinct culture and to welcome new experiences.