I realize that I actually did not introduce myself in this blog – how rude of me! Since I just started this blog, I guess it is not too late yet.
My name is Boudewijn Dekker – just your regular Dutch guy, living and working in Slovakia (Bratislava) for more than 3 years now; married to a beautiful Slovak woman; and absolutely enjoying my time in this country.
If anything, I am naturally curious – curious about what make people act, say, believe, support, enjoy; and, the other way around, what makes them to do quite the opposite.
I am trying hard not to live in Slovakia as a “foreigner”, even though I know I will always be one. I want to experience the Slovak culture, habits and history; I want to learn the ways of Slovak society; one day I want to be able to speak the language; I want to feel the importance of that what Slovaks feel as important – put differently: I want to understand what it means to be Slovak.
How else would a Dutch guy (or any foreigner for that matter) be able to actually build a life here, if you don’t understand where you are living? I am not just passing through – a tourist, an exchange student or one looking for a temporary working experience before moving back to his home country.
Slovakia is my home now. This is where my heart is.
And I intend to make the most of it.
That doesn’t mean I will forget my Dutch roots, my own culture, habits and history – that I will never allow. A beautiful side-effect of living in a different country is that you start to appreciate and respect what you willingly left behind, how your parents raised you, the good things that you won’t get here, the bad things you are glad to be rid of. You see your own country through a different set of glasses.
However, when I still lived in the Netherlands, I would be the first one you’d hear complaining about how things are done – things that are actually great but were never great enough. I never really understood why foreigners liked the Netherlands and thought it was a beautiful country where everything worked so well. Wasn’t the Netherlands just flat, cold and rainy? What is so beautiful about that?
Now I start to realize that what I missed at that time was someone “on the outside” reminding me of where I came from.