Coming from Ghana, where hospitality is prioritized, I got the shock of my life when I came to the Netherlands last year.
In fact, I am celebrating my first anniversary of the shock I had when a Dutch course-mate made an appointment with me for a lunch at the Grand cafe in the Forum. Back in my country, when someone invites you for lunch, it is automatic that the person will pay for everything the two of you will eat and drink. With this background knowledge, I had in mind that as usual I was not going to pay for anything but I was definitely going to eat to my full. On that day, I put on one of my good shirts and shoes to match. In fact, I was counting every second until the lunch appointment - not knowing the shock that awaited me. At lunch time I went to the venue and we met. My friend opened his bag, took out a plastic container, opened it, took bread and started to eat. He did not even invite me to join him, as is done in my country. He ate everything while I sat watching him and chatting with him. I still thought that after he had eaten the bread, the ‘lunch proper' would be requested from the waitress. But after eating his bread, he said, ‘it was nice having lunch with you'. Then I asked, where is the lunch we had? He said that was what he had just finished. Furthermore, he added, here when someone invites you for lunch, you take your own food. I was shocked to my bones. In fact for about one week I was still in a state of ‘lunch shock'.
Isaac Mbir Bryant, Ghanaian MSc student of Environmental Sciences at Wageningen University.