Since arriving in the Dutch ‘city of life sciences’, life has not ceased to entertain me. One incident, or rather a chain of events, particularly intrigued me. Several Dutch people in and outside of Wageningen have asked me: ‘Are you a refugee?’ When I replied: ‘No, I am a student from India’, they said: ‘Okay! Then it’s cool!’
At first, I didn’t understand this, but when I probed deeper, I realized that many Dutch people have a morbid fear of having refugees around them. ‘They are different, man!’, they said to me. ‘Come on’, I said, ‘they are not so bad.’ ‘Well, one cannot say what they might do.’
Apparently people in the Netherlands, Germany and other European nations experience the coming of refugees from Syria, among other countries, as a social problem. Although most Dutch people will never say anything bad, their anxiety is apparent. And since I have somewhat similar features as the people from refugee camps – or so my Dutch friends think – I find myself in a difficult predicament, for I am also categorised as ‘problematic’.
I cannot comment on whether this new situation in the Netherlands is good or bad and I don’t know whether the anxiety of the Dutch is justifiable. As a rule, they are friendly and forthcoming and I just hope this stays the same. Anyhow, I prefer not to be mistaken for a refugee.
Pranav Kulkarni, Master’s student of Animal Sciences, from India
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