One month in The Netherlands

One month has passed since I arrived home in the Netherlands after a nine-month stay in Seville. Surely, there was a little break during the Christmas Holidays, but nonetheless this time I knew my return was more definite. Now, looking back on it, it feels almost unreal, like waking up from a dream. Is this what some call the post-exchange depression? I certainly won’t say I have felt depressed, but there is no denial there have been days I was longing to go back to Spain.

The last month I have been struggling a little bit with social conventions. I had become more used to Spanish social standards than I thought I was, and many times I felt lost and insecure in situations that used to be so common to me. Especially when it comes to greeting: should I give three kisses on the cheek, should I just shake hands, or can I just say hello without anything else? Even among friends I was sometimes doubting what kind of action would be appropriate. Now, fortunately, surely but slowly I’m getting back to Dutch routine.

Many a times I notice I still think in Spanish, and when at home I notice that I’m even talking to myself in Spanish. Yet it has not happened that I start talking in Spanish to someone else, although sometimes un té, por favor almost slips off my tongue when I want to order a tea. I have got to say though I don’t find myself on a terrace in the city that often anymore, since apart from a cultural and linguistic shock, there is also the economic shock: everything is much more expensive in The Netherlands.

Another thing that was shocking me quite a bit was the way everything seems to be so well organized in the Netherlands. It is, essentially, all planned and has a purpose and there is not much room left for spontaneity. This is not only reflected in Dutch infrastructure, but also in the way people behave in society. Of course I was already aware of the fact that Dutch people tend to plan everything in advance and that social events usually get scheduled at least a week in advance, but still it took me a while to get used to it again.

Even though I have left Seville, this does not mean my studies are finished. I still have some assignments left, that will have to be finished in the next coming weeks of June. One of those assignments is related to this very website and is all about a subject regarding intercultural factors in language teaching.  The next two weeks various blog posts will be published about this, as well as a class diary in the portfolio section. From July on, more blog posts about other topics as well will be published, so make sure to stay tuned and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

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