Written by

Nikki Mennen (Netherlands)

Hi! I’m Nikki Mennen. I’m originally from the Netherlands and came all the way to Bournemouth to study a MA in Creative Writing and Publishing. Although my home country is just a one-hour flight away and we are taught in English from the age of six, there are still some surprising differences between the Netherlands and the UK. I will tell you about my experience as a ‘Dutchy’ in Bournemouth.

 What makes us alike?

 Despite the differences between my life in the Netherlands and my time in the UK, there are many similarities between these two countries. The overall culture feels alike, the weather is the same and so is the food for the most part. I didn’t have any trouble blending in and didn’t experience any culture shocks, although of course I noticed some small differences.

What tells us apart?

 Specially in the first week, I noticed some small differences to the Dutch way of living, but these were all pretty standard and highly expected. For example, British people drive on the left, have British accents that I sometimes can’t understand, drink lots of tea and take a more practical approach to studying. I also never had the pleasure of living near the beach, which I absolutely love and take advantage of it as much as I can.

Taken by surprise

 I also came across some  British ways that I had never thought about. Firstly, I noticed that British people are more religious and set in their ways, while the Netherlands is known for its innovation and open mindedness. Luckily, I didn’t experience any problems with this, but I feel I sometimes have to be respectful of other people’s perspectives on things.

On foot or on wheels, mind your moves!

Secondly, British people don’t move to the side on the streets. I know this is a weird thing to point out, but it’s something that I notice every single day. Amsterdam is very busy with pedestrians and bikes and people move to the side to make space for others approaching them on the same sidewalk. Here, everyone just keeps walking and I have crashed into people more than once. Luckily, they do have bike paths here in Bournemouth, but keep in mind that they sometimes merge with the road, especially at roundabouts, which means you have to bike in the middle of the road and behave like a car. A bit scary, if you ask me!

The nightlife: start late or finish early

The nightlife is a bit different from what I am used to. In the Netherlands, you can spend the night at a nice bar, which stays open until 4 am, or you go for a wild night out in a club, which is usually open until 5 am. Here, if you don’t want to go to one of the several night clubs and prefer a quieter get-together in a pub, you will be sent home much earlier. I haven’t really found an alternative to stay out late and avoid the clubs, except for house parties. In defence to the pubs though, they do have a lot of quiz nights and live music, which I love!

By Nikki Mennen, The Netherlands, MA Creative Writing and Publishing, 2017/18