Americans in Holland
Last week seven students from Oklahoma State University in the United States visited our town. They have been working for almost a year together with six students from the WAU department of Agricultural Engineering & Physics and were on this side of the Atlantic to present their results
The research topic is the reduction of injuries relating to the use of agricultural machinery, commissioned by the company New Holland. The two groups of students started their cooperation September last year without having seen each other. They exchanged photographs with a short description of their personal lives, after which communication by E-mail, E-phone and regular chatting hours on Internet took over. In December the two groups of students actually met, when the Dutch went to Stillwater, Oklahoma for a week or so. This week it's the other way round. The research is almost finished and the results were presented on Monday at the Belgian headquarters of New Holland. Meanwhile the Dutch arranged some sightseeing to give the visitors a taste of The Netherlands: Amsterdam, Arnhem, the Delta works, Muiden Castle and the Flevopolders
The main goals of the research programme were integration, working in an international team and learning the language (although the last goal was only for the Dutch, we presume). So I spoke to Tammy Duke, Brad Schaufele and Clint Imel - all in their early twenties and living off-campus in Stillwater - and asked them about their impressions. They didn't know a lot about Holland before coming. We had heard stories about eating raw herring and drinking lots of beer, but had read little.
Relationships: People don't marry here so often as back home, but in the United States people are also starting to live together more and more instead of marrying.
I was surprised to see that so many students are so seriously involved. Most of them are younger than us. I don't know why this is: they didn't tell us.
Communication: The English the Dutch students used in the beginning was pretty rough: funny accents, no flow.
I understood what they were saying, I had no trouble with that
Countryside: The Netherlands didn't strike us as a farming country. There are lots of cities.
There seem to be small farms everywhere and it's very green with lots of different kinds of flowers.
The Dutch keep their gardens clean.
Everything is so small and efficient, I guess that's because there's less space. The Dutch squeeze out every square inch. The roads are funny. In Oklahoma everything is straight. We have a grid system, here all roads are winding.
There are no slummy neighbourhoods here. In America each town has a poor area, where there's a lot of crime.
Transport: Back home we do everything by car. Our apartments are two or three miles off campus. Ok, that's not that far but we are lazy.
In Wageningen we didn't cycle. They arranged vans for us.
It was hard to believe that only two of the students had a car.
The funny thing is you don't see any pick-up trucks over here.
The driving is far more relaxed, no shouting out of cars.
Dorms: The dorms are quite different from ours. Here they have a sweet kitchen and a living room. We don't have that. We have a cafeteria downstairs.
We don't cook. Now that were married we are developing more kitchen activities.
The dorms here are more wild. The students can get beer at the bar beneath. In Stillwater it's a dry campus although not all students in Oklahoma are dry.
Arnhem: Lots of shops full of American clothes, I missed the American food.
Shopping is different, much more crowded. No malls. It didn't strike us as odd, but it's inconvenient.
Students: The girls use less make-up and dress more formally.
The students go home every weekend. That's strange. We don't do that because for us it's a four hour drive.
As students we have lots of stuff like VCR's, cars, microwaves. We collect things so we have everything when were ready to move out.
Food and drink: The Dutch drink coffee a lot and it's also stronger. No iced tea or cold beer here. Only small cokes with no ice or free refills.
You don't see any coke machines over here or the machines for candy.
The hamburgers have all kinds of stuff in them like little pieces of carrot or something.
The first day we were here we ordered Chinese food.
Smoking is allowed in public buildings, restaurants and airplanes. The health aspect doesn't seem to be considered.
Clinton and politics: Is Clinton coming to the Netherlands?
I don't really care. We are not interested in politics. There are more important things to consider like ourselves and our grades.
We don't think we can change that much. Maybe it's because this country is so small that everyone knows what's going on.
Once out of school you can worry more about politics. For example about reducing taxes.
Cheap calls abroad
There is now a cheap way to make telephone calls abroad. Mr Bhikharie from Toko Min in the Kapelstraat is now selling the Wincard. This is a card that can be used with any modern telephone, at home, at work, in a phone booth or in a hotel. The card doesn't need to be inserted but has two numbers on it: one is the number of the main switchboard, the other is the owner's address code. After dialling the two numbers the owner hears how much credit is left on the card. If there's enough a call can be made. There are three different kinds of cards for sale: an ordinary one, which can be used for all countries, a card for special countries with even lower prices per minute, and a combi-card for calls to eleven countries, including China, Indonesia, Surinam, the USA, and Turkey. Prices are a lot cheaper than the regular PTT rates. For example, calling China with the Wincard costs around two guilders per minute instead of almost four with PTT. Calling the USA costs only fifty cents instead of 1,59, and Indonesia 1,69 instead of 3,93. Mr Bhikharie also has plans to open a special phone booth in the near future, where people can have a drink or a snack while they are waiting to call
International spring party
The winter is over, spring is doing it's best, the international students are halfway through their MSc courses and will soon be leaving to do field work or start writing theses. Whatever the reason it's time to celebrate. Friday May 30, from 6 oclock onwards I-SOW is holding an International Spring Party. All international students are welcome: MSc, Erasmus, Tempus, PhD students and all the rest
There will be food and drink from Africa, India, China and Europe. Dance to music from all over the world, and enjoy a performance of Traditional Greek Dancing or join in the Salsa Dance Workshop
Why not add some colour by coming in traditional costume from your country, bringing your favourite music along or treating us to a performance from your own culture
All this and more for only f.5,-!!!!
See you there: I-SOW, Duivendaal 7. Home away from home