This episode is about the incredible value of international experiences. I talk about this with Ron Koppers, a Dutch student who was on exchange in Fall 2018 at my university. Ron studied in North Carolina but has also participated in several global programs across the world with his university, Rotterdam School of Management. I visited Ron’s home in Breda, NL during Carnival so we also discuss the unique way his hometown celebrates this festival.
What I Learned from Ron
- Be open-minded
- Act as a “cultural sponge“
- Push yourself beyond your comfort zone
Lasting Impressions from The Netherlands
The Dutch progressive culture really got me thinking. It is wildly different from what I know at home. The whole legal prostitution thing stuck with me as it may be the most extreme example. I don’t know if I could ever personally agree with something like this, but it makes me question things in general that are illegal. Is it best to have strict laws? Or are things safer by legalizing activities, substances, etc. and having proper regulation?
The overall openness of Dutch culture also has stuck with me. In the U.S, it seems as if our actions are often heavily influenced by the perception of others. Differences in religion, politics and other opinions seem to be more accepted in The Netherlands (and Europe as a whole) than at home. Observing these cultural differences has got to be one of the most valuable things I have experienced in my time abroad.