Made in Holland


A while back I spent the weekend in Seville: according to many, the most beautiful city of Spain. According to many others, also the place that host the least friendly people in all of Spain. People from Seville never leave their city (because it’s the most beautiful one), speak with a very strong accent. Like torturing bulls, so I’ve heard. Before coming to Spain, I thought its main internal struggles were situated in the Basque Country and Catalonia. Now, I know better: every region, every city has its own vocabulary, its fans, and its ‘enemies’. To call Spain a nation would be like calling the Dutch national soccer squad a ‘team’: an illusion.
Just like in Spain, I was and still am an outsider in Maastricht. Coming from ‘Holland’, north of the big rivers, I belong to a group that is called ‘them’, whereas the locals from Maastricht are ‘us’ – this was explained to me last year, during an academic project in which we interviewed local Maastricht people, who, almost without exception, used this distinction. I wasn’t aware of this sentiment when I arrived in Maastricht, just like I wasn’t aware of the amount of cultural divisions in Spain. Now, I’m trying to find the source of my ignorance. Is it that my Amsterdam-roots have blinded me? Am I one of this typical ignorant, arrogant Northern Dutch people? Or does one simply not experience the differences to such an extent when not living in the area? My process of self-reflection is still in full swing, so please don’t judge me for my possibly naïve preliminary answers.
 All in all, I’ve grown used to being the outsider, and it is mostly a source of fun. In our house, which hosts a mix of Latin-American, Spanish, and other European nationals (twenty in total), my phrase “this is not done in Holland” seems to be slowly turning into a classic that can be used in whatever situation (“He is coming over for a drink” – “That’s not done in Holland!”). Clearly, without being too aware of it, I still compare everything to the place I spent most of my life. With another six months of Spanish life ahead, however, let’s hope that’ll change. To start the process, I’ll now go to a bar to cheer for the Spanish soccer team.

Fleur Damen

Made in Holland
Fleur Damen
Author: Redactie
Tags: fleur

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