Getting to know a different culture – for me it was one of the reasons to go abroad. It was a great experience; insightful and frustrating (sometimes) at the same time. I learned about a different culture, my own culture and how to work and live in a new culture. I will tell you a bit about the differences that I experienced and my views on Dutch and Australian culture.
One of the very first cultural differences I noticed was the working ethic. In the Netherlands it is ‘highly appreciated’ when you work hard. You can show that, for example, by staying in the office as long as possible, even (or maybe especially) as an intern. This way of working was normal to me.
So when, on our first day at MCRI, a few of the other students said they were going home at 3 o’clock, because they were done for the day, I was pretty surprised.
Another big difference was the level of assertiveness/bluntness. I knew Dutch people are quite blunt in general. I never considered myself to be blunt and I did not expect this to be a problem. But there were a few situations were other students did not feel comfortable. These were the sort of situations that could easily be solved by a honest chat with the supervisor. I encouraged them multiple times to do so. Yet they were too polite (in my opinion) to do so. I learned that I quite like the fact that assertiveness is appreciated in the Netherlands; I think it makes life so much easier.
One (of many) cultural aspects that I liked about Australia/MCRI was that everybody thanked each other for everything. Every single day someone thanked me for the work that I did that day when I went home. I became more conscious about saying “thank you”. I love it; it is so easy, it makes you feel appreciated and it makes you appreciate what others do. Definitely one culture difference that I will bring home!