‘Ggg-goed, in the Netherlands, you always need to know how to pronounce the gggg-sound’, the customs officer said to me while stamping ‘arrival’ on my Taiwanese passport, upon my first arrival at Schiphol Airport last year.
Upon my arrival in Schiphol Airport last August, I was full of joy and felt super excited about starting my new adventure as a master’s student. While smiling delightedly and waiting to pass the immigration office, a very interesting conversation took place.
The customs officer: ‘What is the purpose of your visit to the Netherlands?’ Me: ‘I come here to study, Sir.’ The customs officer: ‘Where are you going to study?’ Me: ‘Wageningen University’ (pronouncing the ‘g’ as in goat). The customs officer then looked at me and made the sound: ‘Ggggggggg’ (the sound of spitting). Me with my eyes open widely tried to mimic: ‘Ggggggggg’. The customs officer shook his head and repeated: ‘Gggggggg… Wageningen!’ I then turned around to look at the line behind me. There were at least another 15 people waiting in the queue and this guy was trying to teach me how to pronounce a proper ‘G’ sound in Dutch. So I couldn’t help but start to smile wildly and said ‘Wageningen!’
The customs officer: ‘Goed, in the Netherlands, you always need to know how to pronounce the "G" sound.’ Then he gave me a wink while returning my passport. I walked away and continued smiling, thinking, ‘Well, that was interesting! Welcome to the Netherlands!’
Fen-Yu Lin, Master’s student of Climate studies, from Taiwan
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