A taste of culture
Old cliché can still work sometimes
It is an old cliché that learning a language is an effective way to explore and enjoy the culture. It might be old, but can be gold.
After more than three years living in The Netherlands, the difference between “before” and “after” learning Dutch for me is noticeable. It is not only about doing groceries or reading the train schedule. I am actually having more fun with language jokes. For example, the peanut butter is “peanut cheese”, potatoes are “ground apples”, a sandwich is a “butter ham”, or when you don’t understand something, you can’t make chocolate from that.
Twents low Saxon language workshop
Martin contacted KTIT a while ago with an initiative introducing Twente culture to the international students. The workshop also includes an introduction to Twents language. I immediately think how brilliant the idea was! The Netherlands is small yet diverse enough. If you pay just a little extra attention, you can see everything is different across the country. And if you are going to spend a year staying in Twente, it’s absolutely worth learning a few authentic cultural conventions of the region.
The university is offering a 3-day workshop about this topic, starting April 6.
Three days is a short period to have a comprehensive understanding of a culture or to speak fluently another language. However, the workshop is totally worth trying. Let me role-play a bit to explain the reason. There was one time, a friend of mine talked about the significant difference in weather between the North and the South of Vietnam. At the same time, it can be 10 degrees in the North and 40 degrees in the South. I was very impressed with that story, definitely more than the story about the noodle soup Pho. It really gave me the feeling that the person was genuinely interested in my culture. Just with that, the conversation extended. I believe some other international students living abroad would share a similar experience. It would be the same for your Twente neighbours.
Language as a tool to start the connection
It takes much more than 3 days to have a full understanding of a culture or speak another language, but I don’t think it’s required a complete knowledge or highly proficient language skill to start a conversation with the local people. When I was doing my internship in a company full of Dutch-speaking colleagues, I was a bit nervous trying to fit in and having small talks. Although they were willing to speak English with me, I found it uneasy to break the ice and start the conversation. One time, I tried mentioning the different accents between different regions of The Netherlands. My colleagues were surprised that I notice the difference and happily talked about the accents in all parts of The Netherlands. It was all thanks to the pronunciation of the mighty “g”. Imagine how many ices could be smashed if it was about some special authentic conventions!