Stranger in my own country

I never considered myself to be a Dutchie, but I must admit I am one. I am blond, pretty pale and once a year I even eat stamppot. I did not really get the tallness, nor the ability to eat cheese and drink milk that come with being Dutch. I never felt the need to dress in orange, but I do fo everywhere on my bicycle and I am very direct. No matter how much I want to deny it, I am Dutch.

I am Dutch, without being Dutch

After some family history research I must admit I am 100 percent Dutch, not a single ancestor (till ca. 1400 AD) gave me any foreign blood. But no matter how Dutch my genes are, I never felt connected to my country. I never felt part of the Dutch population, I don’t like the language, I don’t like potatoes or soccer and I don’t wear my summer dress when the temperature exceeds the 15 °C. I don’t do what the Dutch do, and this has always made me feel strange.

Despite the struggles I encounter on king’s day or whenever the Dutch soccer team plays a match, on which I’m confronted with me being the only person not owning a piece of clothing in our counties national color, my feeling of not belonging goes much further. In my everyday life, whenever I encounter a true Dutch, I recognize the many differences between us. I often wondered if the differences where just created by my ADHD brain, or if I was born in the wrong country.

Switching to English

During my masters at university I entered a non-Dutch world within the Netherlands. My courses switched to English and the lecture halls where filled with students from all over the world. I noticed how the Dutch sticked together, not willing to switch to another language or learn about a different culture. For me however, this was a change I have been waiting for.

I connected with the students that had left their own country for this little rainy one. I was interested in their life and how it had been growing up in their country. But more importantly, I felt connected to these foreign students because they shared my feeling of not belonging. Together we could make fun of the Dutch that surrounded us, their bread with sweaty cheese from a plastic bag, their extreme reaction to a non-rainy day and their extremely boring birthday parties.

People make me belong

I belonged with the people that did not belong. I found 3 amazing friends that are closer to me than any Dutch has ever been. Iranian, Indian and Italian where the people I connected with. We have major differences, we are all completely different people with an even more diverse background, but together we belong at my university and in this country. Together we found a place that was home, for the first time for all of us.

I discovered that I am not the only one that feels like I don’t belong in the country I was born in. Many more people have this, many more people feel disconnected or different. I found a Dutch friend with the same feeling, as well as many colleagues and my Greek boyfriend. I still feel disconnected from the Dutch, but with the right people around me it doesn’t matter where I am, with them around I can belong anywhere.

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