I have discovered that in the Netherlands the word ‘sorry’ is not used in the way we use it in Nigeria. I have even been told several times not to say this word.
Illustratie: Henk van Ruitenbeek
Some months back, I met a Dutch friend at the Forum restaurant. We bought soup together and she took a lid to cover hers. Unfortunately, the lid slipped out of her hand and fell to the ground. I said ‘sorry’ and picked it up for her. She said: ‘Thanks for picking it up for me, but you didn’t need to apologize because it wasn’t your fault.’
On a number of occasions, unpleasant things happened to Dutch people in my presence, or they told some sad stories about things that had happened to them. I always said ‘sorry’, as we usually do in my country. But in return, they always told me: ‘You don’t need to say sorry, you didn’t do anything wrong.’ To me, saying sorry in such situations is just a way of caring, not taking responsibility or apologizing. But I guess Dutch people don’t see it that way.
Ibrahim Jibrila, MSc student of Animal sciences, from Nigeria
Do you have a nice anecdote about your experience of going Dutch? Send it in! Describe an encounter with Dutch culture in detail and comment on it briefly. 300 words max. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and earn twenty-five euro and Dutch candy.