We all need symbols in life. Whether animals we venerate (like lions, roosters, cows, dragons, etc.), monuments we admire (i.e. Tour Eiffel, Gateway of India, Brandenburger Tor, etc.), or real or fictive characters we worship (such as gods and goddesses, kings and queens, celebrities, and Santa Claus and the like…). So what would count as a symbol for the Netherlands? Sinterklaas and his zwarte pieten? “Oh no, please, not again…”, I hear you say, right? This is far too controversial and doesn’t stand for the unity of the Dutchies. There’s fortunately one symbol that embraces all Dutch cultural characteristics and hence isn’t subject to any controversy: the fiets!
On my way back from a meeting, I walked passed our new supermarket on the campus. I stopped. I turned around. It was high noon. I was hungry. Would this new shop feed me? I was curious, but also anxious. Well, the first impression was one of a shock. In front of the shop a pink crocodile (or was it an alligator?) was staring at me, with its mouth open … hmm… maybe it was hungry, too. Not very welcoming to customers… Fortunately, it was chained down to a huge nearby plant. Jungle? Yes, the concrete jungle in Flux.
We all know the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which aim at unlimited participation and open access via the web. Well, in August TU/e experienced various types of MOOCs I’m going to describe. One of them, unlike the real MOOC, was characterized by a limited participation and controlled access to our campus: a peaceful invasion by our new international students which resulted in the presence of Many Outlanders On Campus.
Friday afternoon in a big Dutch city: a quiet corner near a busy road. People had gathered for a very special reason: to collectively commemorate their missing dear ones.
It was one of those rainy days in downtown Amsterdam and a car, one of those big Mitsubishi station wagons, stopped for a red traffic light. The car behind, one of those big Volvos a.k.a. “the tank”, could not stop on time (the story doesn’t say if it was because of the slippery pavement) and crashed into the station wagon.
Earlier this week EP-NUFFIC launched what is meant to be “your first step towards mastering the Dutch language. It shows you how much fun it can be to learn Dutch” and also helps you discover some typical aspects of culture.
“Dutch business people arrived in Seoul for negotiations with a Korean supplier. After the proper exchange of cards, the Koreans handed them a set of silver pens. Perhaps it was jetlag, perhaps a headache, but the Dutch felt uncomfortable and refused, ever so politely. The next day, the Koreans arrived with golden pens”, writes my colleague Ursula in a recent publication. Were they trying to influence their Dutch negotiation partners?
A native of Strasbourg, I’ve lived 33 years in the Netherlands and worked 30 years at TU/e. I teach intercultural communication in various forms and also help develop further our Community. As such culture and communication are part of my entire life and they activate my 5 senses all day long! And I like to share these impressions and experiences. So stay tuned for more!