CURRENTLY READING:The Supernova Era by Liu Cixin

29 June 2013

I am Not an Expat.


Ever since I arrived in the Netherlands I've been following some expat blogs on life here. How they adapt, what paper work or situations to expect. What is worth seeing, how they raise a multilingual family, among other things. They write about herring, stroopwaffels, clogs, windmills and tulips. They have typical Dutch themes for the blog name. And in the end I realize these blogs serve mainly as a sort of 'touristic' insider view of The Netherlands. Even though sometimes I do point out some peculiar things about life here, I do not wish to write an entire blog solely on what makes something Dutch. Nor have I contemplated on joining those expat blogging networks. The reason behind this is because in the end I do not wish to be considered a foreigner in this country. In the end I want to belong here as any person born here would. 
When I attempt to use the Dutch language I try to make it so it flows. And when it doesn't I feel strange having to switch to English words. On the street I rather have sale people or store personnel greet me first so I can respond in Dutch and they have no choice but to continue in Dutch. I honestly dislike it when they hear my accent and switch to English. Is not like I can't understand. Especially when I say “Sorry?” with an American ‘r’ sound. Usually I say it because I heard a mumble instead of words, not because I didn’t understood the words. Though I’ve been working on it and now it sounds more Dutch, but I try to resolve to the “wat zeg je/u?” which comes more natural to me. (Hence the name of the Dutch language blog.)

When I listen to people talking about The Netherlands with remarks as "do they really wear wooden clogs?" or "oh yea, they smoke a lot of weed." I also dislike it. It is as annoying to hear as to hear "oh Puerto Rico, you guys have cars? And internet? I though you lived in hoots." (Remark Jessica Simpson pointed out when she first arrived in PR) But the reason these remarks are annoying is because I know there is more to life here than cheese, or so to say. And the lifestyle is worth my attempts to belong here. And I have a wonderful family in law who have taken me as one of their own. And even though I still have to make friends after being here over a year now, I am feeling like I belong. And this is the reason why writing about The Netherlands from a foreigner perspective wouldn't work for me.

I attempt to take those peculiar things that the world recognize as Dutch and make them mine. As if they were always in my life and there is nothing peculiar of weird about it. I try to see this country as my own, as natural and normal as possible. And it is walking with confidence on the street, knowing what and where and how everything works, that makes me feel part of this country and not just a tourist or a temporary resident. Honestly speaking in Puerto Rico I did felt like a foreigner. As for friends and socializing, I do not look for expat networks in such a way, for the same reason. Friendships should be casual and blossom. A day at the park, an accident and then hours of chatting and exchanging facebooks. Forced friendship for the sake of it do not work with me. But considering how most Dutch people create their network since they are born and see no need to add more to their circle, is kind of hard to find such causal friendships. But who knows, perhaps in time.

For now I have all I need and I never feel alone. The moment I do, I can just call any of my in laws or skype home. This is my home, I'm not here for a visit, and this is the way I want to see the country, as part of my daily life. I am not an expat, I am a American/Dutch to be. Although I won't even attempt to try ‘herring’, that is just plain disgusting.


Do you ever feel like a stranger in your own land?





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