3 February 2013

Home is where... where the... Where is Home?

Once again I offer my sincere apologies for being completely incapable of maintaining any schedule, be it self-imposed or enforced by others. In other words: I'm being lazy again.

Despite my talent to procrastinate, it isn't entirely my fault this time around. You see, after the whole Holiday mess that was so eloquently described in our previous post, we eventually had to make our way back to our daily lives in freezing, windy Holland and snow-filled Germany.

Speaking of which, some belated congratulations are in order for Immah, who has successfully breached yet another border and infiltrated the German ranks for roughly 6 months while she's doing her internship there. Maybe a post would be in order from her part, so she can share the Bavarian experience with the rest of us mortals (which would also mean I can postpone writing a post myself).

Back to the point, it's always weird going from home to… well… home. Yeah, I said it. It's not a matter of cultural identity, national pride or anything of the sorts. For most healthy beings, home is where you're comfortable, where you're happy and where you sleep at least 4 nights a week; therefore, it can get a bit confusing when you have a home in Romania, a country whose beauty is overshadowed by some of its less-evolved inhabitants, and another home in the Netherlands (or Germany, for some) where the streets are clean and the stray dogs absent (although there is a slight possibility that both situations are caused by the horrible wind that can probably kill even cockroaches).

Jokes aside, I often find myself torn between my birth and adoptive country. They've both been nice, caring, and giving to me. And they've both had many an opportunity to screw me over. But then again, there is one incredibly essential difference between Romania and the Netherlands that has to be pointed out.

The people.

While I can't say I've met every person in either country personally, I can sum up my experience with Romanians and Dutch as follows: hot and cold.

Event that actually took place: after he was struggling with a store door for who knows how long, this poor man received a moment's help from Vivid, which caused him to promptly burst into tears while riding away on his bike. Only in Romania.

Romanians, despite being a part of the former Soviet Union, still track their heritage back to Ancient Romans. And we're so damn proud of it as well. We boast with our Latin blood, using it as an excuse for mostly any outburst. Yes, we are a passionate people. We love, we hate, we rebel, we fight, we drink, we kill, we swear, we cry. And we do all of it with passion. Unfortunately, we're also misguided, conceited, and sometimes ignorant. At our best we are caring, sympathetic, and generous. At our worst we're uncivilized, deceitful, and petty. With the clear distinction that the latter stand out a lot more (not because of numbers, simply because pain, filth and destruction are more easy to notice than an act of kindness).

And then, there is the Dutch people that are simply… cold. They are extremely polite and helpful, but will never go out of their way to do something for you. They will wave or smile back, but just because it's polite to reciprocate. As a whole, they are very well-mannered, just overall decent people. But you'll have a hard time actually gaining their friendship, trust or glimpses of who they actually are. Of course, there is a high possibility that I perceive them as such because I am, after all, a foreigner to them, but it seems more likely that it's simply how they decided to build their society. It's “live and let live”, with a touch of social responsibility. Don't get me wrong, once you manage to penetrate that polite barrier of theirs, they can be pretty amazing people (which applies to most of the Dutch people I've actually befriended), same way I'm convinced some of them are complete scumbags. But it's so frustrating that you never know until it's too late.

Excuse the part about the Germans, Immah has her own humouristic way of seeing the world she lives in. I'm sure she's just teasing.

You learn to love both of them (sorry, German people, I lack exposure here). The same way I'm certain I could learn to love Spanish, Croatian or Norwegian culture. But the weird part is trying to adapt to your new habitat, without losing track of who you are. That's why I said it's not a matter of national identity: all that matters is who YOU are. Just because you were born in a country, doesn't mean you belong to that country; it is entirely up to you where you end up and what you do there, just make sure you do it as YOURSELF.

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