News - October 29, 2015

Cold climate, warm welcome

I hate the Dutch weather and I don’t like Dutch food. Those are the two things that I complain the most about here in Holland. But ironically, despite the bad weather and the tasteless food, I always feel at home and accepted here.

I am non-white, non-European, I wear a headscarf and I don’t speak the mother tongue of this country. When I was living in the United States, those unique qualities of mine were not widely accepted, and I still face prejudice when I travel around the globe. People stare at me because of the piece of cloth on my head, I get judged because of my skin colour, accent and even origin. However, that is not the case here.

I'm happy when my Dutch friends and I laugh about our stereotypes about each other

I’m surprised to see a quiet room in Radix where I can say my prayers. I’m impressed when my Dutch acquaintances know about the festivals that I celebrate. I’m delighted when strangers greet me in Dutch. I feel relieved when the locals do not mind that I can’t speak the language and most importantly I’m happy when my Dutch friends and I laugh and joke about the stereotypes that we have about each other. And that is what I find unique about this country: how neutral and accepting the Dutch are towards people from different backgrounds.

It is true that the Dutch are cold, like to complain, are straightforward and have stereotypes about you, but once you talk to them and get to know each other better, they will welcome you with open arms. Over here, I’m not judged on my appearance or my beliefs. Rather people see me as an individual and treat me respectfully. Never mind the bad weather and tasteless food.
Mas Muniroh binti Mohd Nadzir, PhD candidate in Plant Breeding, from Malaysia
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