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CCR Inspiration #4 - Emilie Jurus
Like a lot of other CEMS students, I have had the privilege to grow up fully immersed in two cultures.
Although I did spend most of my life in Lyon, France, my mother considered it as extremely important to transmit her “Dutch-ness” to my sisters and I.
In the non-international schools I attended, I was almost considered as “exotic”. My French friends would often ask me to speak Dutch, as they were amused by the guttural sounds of my mother tongue. And I would proudly show these “Northern” roots! At Sinterklaas, I would bring pepernoten for all my classmates, and would cheerfully explain the origins of this tradition. At carnaval, I would dress up as a Dutch milkmaid with clogs, braids and all. I really felt like a belonged to both France and the Netherlands. So obviously when I moved to Rotterdam at the age of 17, I thought I would easily integrate with my fellow Dutchies. However, upon arrival, I quickly realised that I did not fully understand the other Dutch students and vice versa, as I spoke like a person from the 1980s, according to them. Besides the language issue, I also seemed to have missed out on some cultural experiences. For instance, at predrinks, I did not know any of the songs my Dutch friends sang, which to me, mostly sounded like the sailor songs my “opa” listens to. I also seemed to be the only Dutch who did not learn how to bike in busy traffic, consequently breaking my bike in half against a tram shortly after my arrival. Nevertheless, some locals, whom I am now honoured to call friends, seemed to accept me, embracing my broken Dutch and “French-ness”. This unexcepted cultural shock enabled me to realise that I would never feel fully Dutch nor fully French, and that I would still never move to Belgium (Luna, si tu lis ça, je suis désolée).