05 November 2009

Cultural difference

Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting a fellow academic who was originally from Nigeria. Well, from Nigeria, but he had been living in the Netherlands for 20 years. That meant a passport, perfect Dutch...but still a frustration with what he saw as a somewhat stilted culture. The conversation went something like this:

Him: Yes, I like it very much in Holland! But sometimes - well, people don't show their emotions. They're too polite and reserved. They think I'm really outgoing (whirls his arms in the air). For example, if there's a traffic accident here, everyone is very calm, they exchange information, and are on their way. In Nigeria, the drivers are fighting in the streets! They shout and shove - look what you did to my car! My car is worth more than you could earn in your life!

Me: But there are plenty of people fighting in the streets here. Just walk around in any city at bar time. You won't miss the scuffles.

Him: But the difference is - the Nigerians don't need alcohol!

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