Last week I had the opportunity to escape the depressive pre-summer weather in Maastricht in order to go and explore Morocco. Together with about 35 international students, ESN Maastricht had an all-in trip to the south of this beautiful country. The sun, the overwhelming landscape, the people, it’s just another world than the Netherlands. Time for yet another rant on cultural differences.
The Dutch are known to be very direct. If you are not used to this it can be quite the shock in the beginning. If something comes to mind, it will most likely come out in the same way as it floats around in our heads. Politically correctness is overrated. This often leads to the conclusion of the Dutch being very blunt. However, this does not apply to issues we have strong emotions about. We tend to hide everything that makes us look vulnerable.
The contrast with the Moroccans couldn’t be bigger. Their friendliness exceeds normal levels. They welcome you like you are one of their own and treat you like a member of the royal family. I guess it’s partly because we were Western, but they behaved like this to other Moroccans and less obvious tourists as well. And where they show excessive happiness they show excessive emotional reactions as well. A fairly big contrast to the often emotionless response of the Dutchies.
One of the most idiotic, retarded things I ever came across in my life. They introduce it as a game that allows you to come up on top and get something very cheap. Everyone who has more than one braincell should know better. When a salesperson starts at 350 Dirham and settles for 50 Dirham because ‘you are a pretty lady’, you are not the brightest out of the bunch if you believe he did not make any money. It is a way of suckering people into paying 40 times the production value. There is no win situation, because the salesman always comes out on top. He will never settle for a loss and therefore the prices are equal to when they were fixed if you do a strong bargain. Just cut the crap and give me a fixed price, so I can compare price and quality.
Italian traffic rules and behavior sucks, but is nothing compared to the Moroccan way of driving. Roads often don’t have lines and cars avoid collisions based on unwritten patterns. Swinging from left to right is just as common as the word hello in English. Although I would not feel comfortable driving there, I have to admit it works. The pure chaos causes everyone to expect the unexpected. Horrible drivers are therefore less of a risk than they are in our own way of rule-obsessed driving. Sometimes it is just better to just go with the flow.
While the Dutch landscape is very nice for people who come from abroad, it is boring for those who live here for a while. I cannot imagine ever to get bored with the landscape in Morocco. The ancient structures, High mountains and deep valleys, Deserts as well as oasis’ makes it a pure pleasure to cruise forever in. There is no way I can describe the beauty in words.
Dutch people eat anything. If someone gives you something to eat, you finish it. It has one advantage: you eat and like almost anything. They warned me for the spiciness of the Moroccan food (something I am not a big fan of) and the consequential urinating out of my ass. I was looking forward to my new relationship with the toilets over there, but I got friendzoned by my own stomach. It held up and I had no problems at all. The food is delicious and very healthy. Instead of eating excessive fat and carbohydrates just like we do, they eat fruit, dades and nuts when they want to snack. I couldn’t be happier as I do not have the craving for chocolate, sweets and desert most Western people have. Oh and another advantage: you can’t make a lot of ‘fat people’ jokes.
Temperature and climate
While temperatures of 30+ sound like heaven to everyone who loves sun vacations, they limit people a lot. Everything and everyone moves and reacts slow. You sweat like a monkey when you just raise your arms. It’s wonderful for about two weeks when you have nothing to do, but it is pretty limiting if you do not own air conditioning and need to work. I guess you will get used to it after while, but I was not unhappy to come back to the Netherlands and feeling the 18 degree overcast weather. Although I am fully aware of the fact that I will bitch about it when it keeps up like this the entire summer. Hypocrisy; what you gonna do about it.
I was born and raised in a town called Geleen, sited between the hills of the Dutch province of Limburg. I'm a 25 year old Psychology Master student and a member of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). I will enjoy shedding my critical light on life itself and share it with you while I am at it.