Coming from Chile and having lived in Germany for the past four years, I have learned the hard way how honest and straightforward Europeans are when it comes to sharing their opinion. Little did I know, however, that the Dutch would stand out in this respect.
Ilustration Henk van Ruitenbeek
I remember how anxious I was when I realized that most if not all of my classes during the next few periods involved group work. Writing assignments on your own is hard enough; add four or five people and you have madness. You not only need to leave everyone satisfied with the final outcome of your work, but you also have to get used to the very honest and straightforward reviews you get from your peers. Even our professors warned us internationals: the Dutch just go straight to the point. No time wasted. It’s like a free-of-charge-and-unexpected reality check, and a coaching experience you never asked for.
As a Latina, I saw the potential on several occasions for fights and friendships destroyed. But that never happened. The Dutch are not just honest and straightforward, they are assertive! And although this can feel harsh at first, it also has its good points. I learned that when Dutch people give you a compliment, they actually mean it. Learning to cope with this environment, I discovered skills I didn’t know I had and I realized I’m actually terrible at other things I thought I was good at. Now I can say I have improved a lot academically thanks to the assertive reviews from my peers, but I also learned a very important skill for my future career and life.
Gabriela Escobar Sánchez, Erasmus Student on the MSc in Environmental Management, from Chile
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NL: Leve de assertiviteit
Gabriela Escobar Sánchez uit Chili zag aanvankelijk op tegen het vele groepswerk dat ze in Wageningen moest doen. Omdat zelfs haar docenten haar hadden gewaarschuwd voor de directheid van de Nederlanders, had ze al visioenen van felle aanvaringen en gebroken vriendschappen. Maar haar boze dromen kwamen niet uit. In plaats daarvan leerde Gabriela de voordelen van assertiviteit kennen. Ze ontdekte vaardigheden waarvan ze niet wist dat ze ze had en leerde ook haar beperkingen kennen. ‘Ik ben academisch een stuk sterker geworden dankzij de assertieve feedback van mijn medestudenten.’