Understanding the Dutch culture

Introduction:One can study and learn a culture truly only by having a close contact with the local people who hold it. In our case (international students) we have the chance to live in the Netherland for at least four years which is enough time to learn the Dutch language in a decent level and integrate to a certain level into the Dutch way of living. The first imprint of the Netherlands for me was the neatly formed square shaped green fields and farms that I saw from the airplane window in a splendid sunny day of August while the airplane was approaching the Schiphol airport.

The first impression of the Dutch culture for me was when I heard the captain of the KLM flight welcoming us aboard in Dutch. I was flying with my best friend who is an acrophobic. Still on the ground in Montreal airport my friend looked at me with wide open worrying eyes and said she was afraid that the Capitan was choking because he sounded so and we all were going to die! Of Couse it is a silly and over exaggerated story. However it is not far from reality for most of the non-Dutch speakers who try to pronounce “G” and “Sch” especially in my Dutch class, they almost choke whenever they try! Luckily for me it is easy since we also have it in Persian.

I simply enjoy the slow and neat lifestyle of the Netherlanders. Everyone seems that they enjoy their family time and love to keep their home clean. Whenever I take a bus and pass by homes I see a couple or a three person little family in a very cozy small home. An average Canadian house might be twice of the size of an average Dutch house but they are not as peaceful as Dutch ones. In the Netherlands parents have only one job and most of the people work 8-9 hours per day however in Canada due to wanting a higher life style parents and partners have 2 jobs or more therefore families are not as strong as the Dutch are.

ScheveningenEarly days: Scheveningen beach is a mesmerizing attraction place in the Netherlands for the local people and tourists. This long white sandy stunning beach is not only a place to relax and enjoy with your loved ones but has a very fascinating background in Dutch history. The earliest reference to the name ‘Scheveningen’ goes back to around 1280 (The Hague Tourist Board page on Scheveningen) this name is also being used as a shibboleth or code word during World War II to identify German spies!

They would pronounce the initial “Sch” differently from Dutch native speakers (McNamara, 2005) From 1470 to 1894 small villages have been built around the cost and have been destroyed by various storms throughout time. After the last storm, the villagers decided to build a harbor and this was the end of using flat bottom boats. Once the harbor had been constructed in 1904, more modern ships replaced the flat bottom boats.

A road to neighboring Den Haag (The Hague) was also constructed and named Scheveningseweg which exists today. In 1818, Jacob Pronk constructed a wooden building on a dune near the sea, from where people could bathe in four separate rooms. It marked the start of Scheveningen as a bathing resort.( The Hague Tourist Board page on Scheveningen) Since then, Scheveningen has attracted numerous tourists from all over Europe, notably from Germany. Places and Events

There are several interesting buildings and events which make Scheveningen even more attractive. Buildings and events that exists and take place in Scheveningen also have historical roots and have a huge contribution into the Dutch culture. From small authentic fish restaurants to the eye catcher Kurhaus hotel you can enjoy Dutch and international cousin at the beach surroundings.

The sand sculpture and fire work competition are examples of artistic and entertaining cultural events. However for the limitation of the lengths of the easy I will only cover the most important and popular places and events mentioned more in details. * The Kurhaus

This edifice is a symbol of European heritage architecture and art for those who appreciate it. The Kurhaus was built between 1884 and 1885 by the German architects and Friedrich Ebert. It consisted originally of a concert hall and a hotel with 120 rooms. Having suffered serious damage by fire, it was rebuilt between 1886 and 1887. The ceilings were painted by the Brussels artist Van Hoeck and his large workshop. Until the 1960s, the Kurhaus remained an attraction to the public via the many performances by top artists.

The last performance in the Kurhausazaal was by the Rolling Stones 8-8-1964. This is an evidence of its importance in Dutch culture. Fallen into disrepair and closed in 1969, the Kurhaus was saved from demolition in 1975 by being listed as a historic building. It is now completely renovated into the high-class Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel and owned by a germen chain of hotles. * The pier

Scheveningen boasts the largest pier in the Netherlands. It was completed in 1961. A crane, built on top of the pier’s panorama tower, provides the opportunity to make a 60-metre high bungee jump over the North Sea waves. The present pier is a successor of an earlier pier, which was completed in 1901 but in 1943 destroyed by the German occupation forces. Walking on water!

The 300 meter long Pier is perfect for walking on the water if you ever wished so. You can enjoy a dazzling view of the North See regardless of whether it is summer, winter, whether it rains or the sun shines, the Pier is always a sociable place to be. Cozy leisure shops are spread around with an art shop or traditional Italian ice cream parlors. If you enjoy the feeling of the wind blowing through your hair then the pier is the right place for you.

From this promenade you can breathe the salty sea air and watch the fisher boats enter the Scheveningen harbor with your naked eye. If you turn your head around you can see the unique view of the boulevard and the Kurhaus.

The good news for students like us is that access to the Pier is free. Therefor do not miss this opportunity whenever you are there because a visit to Scheveningen is not complete without a promenade across the Pier which can be an extraordinary experience. A visit to Scheveningen can also include:

* The Muzee Museum (official museum of Scheveningen)* The miniature city Madurodam* The sculptures at sea museum Beelden aan Zee* The Panorama Mesdag* Visit the 4 different beaches of Scheveningen* Night life centers on Pathé Scheveningen movie theater and the sea-front boulevard with its bars, restaurants, gambling halls and other entertainment. Events:Annual events include:* Winter swim on New Year’s Day, locally known as Nieuwjaarsduik (New Year’s dive) * Annual sand sculpture competition at Scheveningen* Flags Day in spring when the first new herring of the year is auctioned * Fireworks in summer, once a week and several days during a festival week Juul Geleick – Geschiedenis Veronica 1973

The Hague Tourist Board page on ScheveningenMcNamara, Tim (2005). “21st century shibboleth: language tests, identity and intergroup conflict”. Language Policy (Springer Netherlands) 2005