Cultural Integration

We frequently watch BBC’s program called Coast, which explores Great Britain’s coastlines, along with those of other nearby countries. One episode focused on the Netherlands, but I missed that episode when it first aired and only recently tracked it down. Watching it this afternoon, I realized that although my Dutch is still limited, my cultural integration has definitely expanded.

The program featured a short piece on fierljeppen, which I’ve written about before. I recognized it immediately, and soon realized that I even recognized one of the athletes! Sure enough, I looked through my photos from the event we went to last year and found the guy in the video, Jaco van Groot. How’s that for integration! Not only did I immediately know what sport they were doing, but I even recognized the athlete.
Setting Up

In another segment of the show, there was a Dutchman used as a local guide during a visit to Scheveningen. (They mispronounced it in the voiceover, something which could have gotten you shot during WWII when the name was used by the resistance as a test to prove that the person actually was Dutch and not a Nazi infiltrator.) While at the beachside town, they enjoyed some raw herring. As I watched and listened to the local, I soon realized that I did, in fact, recognize him, as well! His name is Philip Walkate, and I recognized him from his humourous bits about the Dutch inburgeringscurse (integration course).

And, of course, there was the bit about Dutch cuisine. As they commentators discussed the popularity of Indian cuisine in Britain, I knew immediately that they were going to be talking about the popularity of Indonesian cuisine here in the Netherlands. I knew that meant one of two things, saté or the broader rijsttafel. They went with the rijsttafel, a meal that goes well with my love of a selection of lots of smaller dishes.

I was ridiculously thrilled to recognize the athlete and comedian and to realize that I was very familiar with much of the information they provided, although the story about Texel island up north during WWII was something new and fascinating. My cultural integration is moving right along.

Three Years

Domtoren
Three years today and I still love it here, even if today’s weather isn’t so pretty. (This photo was from last week.) We’re celebrating with a Dutch dinner of rookworst and stamppot. Tomorrow I might ride my fiets over to one of the parks to celebrate the national Day in the Park event. My Dutch may still be pretty limited, but culturally, I seem to be getting the hang of this whole inburgering thing.

Olympic Inburgering

The 2010 edition of the Winter Olympics is now finished. What on earth will we watch in the evenings? I’ve seen more ski jumping and cross-country skating that I ever have before. Watching the Eurosport channel’s coverage of the Olympics is much different from watching the NBC coverage in the US. You get to see whole competitions instead of just a few bits and pieces. On the other hand, sometimes you end up missing whole sports. One thing that they didn’t seem to focus on quite as much was speed skating. You have to understand that for the Dutch, not focusing on speed skating is like not focusing on hockey in Canada. Skating is huge here!

Even if you’re not Dutch, you probably heard about poor Sven Kramer’s disaster in one of the races when his coach pointed him into the wrong lane. Poor Sven! A nation was heart-broken! Even I felt bad for the guy. And yes, I did know who he was before the Olympics. That’s how famous he is here. I like to think of that as another step in my unofficial inburgering (integration).

Friday night, at the Potdeksel, the tv came on for the speed skating and snowboarding events in which the Dutch were taking place. Everyone stopped to watch. Nicolien Sauerbreij won gold in the women’s snowboard parallel giant slalom, giving the Dutch their 100th winter Olympic medal! Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well for the men’s team pursuit skating event. Worst of all, it came down to the Netherlands vs USA to see who would go to the finals. I was actually cheering for the Dutch team against the US team, even though it was the US team that eventually won the challenge. Surely, I must truly be integrating.

To be honest, I found myself somewhat removed from cheering for the US athletes in general. To be fair, that was the only time I was cheering against them, and there were plenty of times I wanted them to win. But I just didn’t feel a strong connection this time around. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the coverage I was watching was fairly neutral and not the big USA love-fest that I grew up watching. Perhaps it’s also because I’m trying to make my home here now. I’m not saying that we’ll never move back to the States, but it’s also not something that we’re honestly planning for the future, either.

Do I feel guilty for not feeling more patriotic? A bit. Mainly, I prefer to be multi-patriotic.