International Close-up: The Netherlands

Our university is turning into a melting pot. We see students and teachers from all different backgrounds. Getting to know them, you learn about their culture, local habits, economy, places to visit. And every single country is unique. While preparing this newsletter, we chose to focus on two countries that usually don’t come to mind first and that are totally different: The Netherlands and Greece. Four IUE-teachers and four students were interviewed about their countries. We hope you find something interesting and will enjoy it!

Could you tell us about your connection with Holland?
Monique: I was born, grew up, had my university education and most of my career in the Netherlands. I didn’t come to Turkey until I was 36 years old. A lot of my life is there.
Kaan: My mom is Dutch, my dad is Turkish. They met in England. I lived in Holland for two years.
Alexander: I was born there. I lived there for the first 45 years of my life and then I came to Turkey.
Umut: My mom and dad are Turkish but we live in the Nethelands. I’m here for Erasmus.
Did you face any adaptation problems in Turkey?
Monique: No. I always worked internationally so I worked with lots of people from a lot of countries. I once counted it: I worked and travelled in 22 countries before I came to Turkey.
Kaan: No, because I was born in Turkey and I grew up here.
Alexander: Well, I knew Turkey pretty well before I came here and I already knew Turkish. Adaptation? I have seen a lot of ugly architecture in Izmir and still I have some trouble with it.
Umut: I can’t get used to taking off my shoes when I’m going into people’s houses.

What is your most and least favourite thing about your country?
Monique: My family and my friends who live there are my favourite thing and the least favourite thing is the weather.
Kaan: It is small, funny, relaxed. There is nothing what I really like most, but I hate the weather.
Alexander: It is still a country where noone has to worry about having enough money to survive, getting good healthcare. The government takes good care of the people. However, Dutch people can be very rude. That is my least favourite thing about Holland..
Umut: Freedom. You can do and say whatever you want. My least favourite thing is the weather, it sucks.

Is there any special gesture or word that belongs to Dutch people?
Monique: The kissing. Dutch men don’t kiss each other. Also, when we kiss, we kiss three times. So, that is typically Dutch.
Kaan: “Olala”. It is used to show excitement, that you messed something up.
Alexander: *waves hand near his ear* means that you are crazy in Turkey, but in Holland it means that the food is very good.
Umut: No, Dutch people are very non-verbal. We have lots of gestures but there is nothing special, I think.

What are the must-see places of your country?
Monique: You definitely have to go to Amsterdam because it is great with a lot of history. But also, people should go to the seacoast because Holland was created from the sea.
Kaan: For most people, Amsterdam is a must-see place, the museums and the red light district.
Alexander: The canals in Amsterdam. Modern architecture in Rotterdam. The wind-mills in Kinderdijk. That is where tourists go. Museums. Great paintings from the golden age. The palace on the Dam square. I was a tour guide there.
Umut: In the centre of Holland, you have the city of Utrecht. You have Haarlem, which is a city close to Amsterdam. Obviously, the city center of Amsterdam. There is a lot of art history to be seen in the Netherlands.

Can you give us a special recipe from your country?
Kaan: Zuurkoolstamp: It is something with white cabbage, potatoes and bacon. It is the basic recipe of the Dutch people.
Alexander: Yes. Boerenkoolstamp: It is a kind of green cabbage. You cut them of into pieces and together with potatoes and water boil them for half an hour and then you mash them together. You serve it with sausages.
Umut: Take a bunch of potatoes. Put them in a pan with chopped up carrots and onions. That’s Dutch food. Boil them for about 20 minutes and then mash them with real butter and milk. Finally, mix them with mustard, salt and pepper. This is called Hutspot.

What is the general opinion in the Netherlands towards women’s rights and equality?
Monique: In general, it is very positive. Although it is still very difficult for women in business to get to the same level as men. I would say, we are almost there but not totally.
Kaan: Generally, it seems that there is equality between men and women but actually it is a male-dominant society.
Alexander: The general opinion is that women are and should be equal to men. There are still some jobs where men get more money than women. But, it is accepted that women are independent and make their own choices in every part of life.
Umut: It is good, as good as it gets.

What do you think about the Dutch language?
Monique: Much more difficult than English, more difficult than Turkish. There is no logic to Dutch, which makes it very difficult to learn.
Alexander: When I think about my language it is the most beautiful language. It is my experience that people who tried to learn Dutch say is very difficult to learn. It is much less systematic than Turkish.
Umut: It sounds terrible. It is difficult. It’s got weird sounds in it.

Advice for the Netherlands
Monique: Pack lots of warm clothes because it is a really cold and rainy country.
Kaan: It is a very nice county if you have a really good income because it is expensive.
Alexander: Always be prepared for the weather to change.
Umut: It sounds terrible. It is difficult. It’s got weird sounds in it.

Alexander van Eck (Dutch Professor, Faculty of Fine Arts)
Umut Mutlu (Dutch Erasmus Student,Faculty of Communication)
Kaan Mikael Yürekli (Dutch student, Faculty of Culinary Arts)
Monique Gümüş (Dutch teacher, Prep School)