One thing I already knew about Dutch people, apart from the fact that they like to be on time, is that they are strict in managing their money. But I didn’t realise quite how strict until a Dutch friend told me that she pays board to her parents.
Illustration: Henk van Ruitenbeek
I was on a group activity with one of my new Dutch friends when she suddenly talked about job vacancies. It was the last week of the period and exams were coming up so I wondered why she would look for a job at that moment. Why not the week after the exam? She told me that she needed the job in order to pay rent to her parents. ‘Sorry’, I said, ‘I must have misheard you. Did you say to your parents?’ She smiled and replied: ‘Yes, I still live with my parents.’
I was shocked for a moment because in my country parents usually provide for their children until they graduate from university or find a job, no matter how old they are. It is a common belief that what your parents own is yours. But that is not the case for Dutch parents. Apparently it is normal for Dutch parents to get a fee from their children for board and lodging once they are 18 and still live at home. My friends told me it was one way to show that you are an adult and you are responsible for your own life. It trains you to respect the value of work and income. Also, it teaches children not to take their parents effort and possessions for granted.
I think this is cool, but at the same time I can't help trembling at the thought of how much my parents would have to ask me for to cover all the expenses they have incurred for me since I was 18. Thank God I'm not Dutch.
Nuruly Myzabella, Master’s student of Nutrition and Health, from Indonesia
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