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Reisverslag Reversed Culture Shock...
15 augustus 2014
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Reversed Culture Shock...
The fact that it has been almost six months since I came home and I finally feel more at peace and balanced. doesn't surprise me. I remember that the first six months in Alexandria also seemed to be much longer than the other eighteen. Mostly due to the fact that so many things were different and new to me. The same is true for being back in The Netherlands, everything was different, new, but also the same for me.
Looking at the basics, the language, food, shops, transportation, the people, everything was typically Dutch, but after two years abroad they were completely foreign to me.
Being from the East of The Netherlands I speak with an accent, which made hearing me speak for a lot of people weird to listen to. During the first weeks, I spoke a mix of predomanintly English, some Dutch, some Twents, and all of which with an American accent... Or so I've been told.
The food is different, I was used to eating a lot of pasta, not just in the USA, also when I lived on my own in Rotterdam and Oegstgeest. Because after moving out in 2006, I now live with my parents and younger brother again. Luckily I am allowed to influence the food choices at home, so we don't just eat potatoes, veggies and meat. According to my father he has never eaten as much salad since I moved back in, which makes him feel like a rabbit.
Also when it comes to food and drinks, I was surprised at how different waiters and the staff in shops are in The Netherlands. In the beginning I thought all cashiers were rude for not asking me how I was doing. When I was sitting at a cafe/restaurant I suddenly had to wait a bit before they took my order, didn't get free water nor free refills, but luckily I do NOT have to pay tips anymore! I felt so weird, because in my mind I knew this was normal, but it still felt like it wasn't supposed to be like that. Besides the tip part, I'm fine with the fact that I'm not being forced to spend more money.
Bicycle, buses, trains (NOT metro!) are better here. Yes, Dutch people love to complain about how trains are never on time, and they love to nag about how time consuming it is to travel by train, which to me is nonsense since it only takes 2,5 hours from East to West. Right now I always ride my bicycle to work, this is a 30 minute ride, which wakes me up in the morning. And of course is a change from the 30 second walk up the stairs at my previous job. I also ride a bike during my job, a different bike in which I can put the kids in front.
Dutch people and dealing with them it is odd. Suddenly the typical handshake and three kisses on the cheek were there again, whilst I just wanted to hug my friends whom I have not seen in a long time. The handshake plus kisses feel distant and foreign to me. I am not a big hugger, but certain people that mean a lot to me just deserve a hug in my opinion.
Besides that, there are the questions:
- Are you settled/used to everything again?
Usually I just say yes, even when it isn't true.
- Do you want to go back and live there?
I don't know, I cannot foresee the future.
- Didn't you want to stay there?
If I did, I would have, but I have a student loan debt that I would like to pay first.
- Are you looking for a better job? (right now I don't work at the level I could work at)
I usually say yes, and I do look around the internet from time to time. But it is hard to find a job and I am quite content with the job I have right now. Especially trying to rebuild my Dutch life again.
- Are you looking for a place to live by yourself?
Sometimes I look around, but to be honest it is so much cheaper to live with my parents again and having to get my head around what I want is easier when I don't have to deal with household chores.
Besides having to get used to all these different things, I went back to the concert band I grew up in. Found a job at which I started nine weeks after I arrived back in The Netherlands, working as a nanny two to three days a week. Sometimes I get to share my experience as a former Au Pair with girls who want to become one, I am actually almost an official interviewer for Au Pair in America. And this weekend I will reveice a call to make an appointment and hopefully become a volunteer as well.
It has been very interesting, odd, awkward, and awesome to experience the country I grew up in, in a way that made me feel like a foreigner.
Becoming an Au Pair still is one of the best decisions I ever made and I would actually love to be one in Australia again, but that will be at the end of 2016, IF my life hasn't changed drastically at the time.
Only time will tell...