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Post The Culture Shock of Moving from The Netherlands to Grand Rapids
Created by John Eipper on 09/20/20 6:31 AM

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The Culture Shock of Moving from The Netherlands to Grand Rapids (Rodolfo Neirotti, USA, 09/20/20 6:31 am)

John E asked me on September 18th: "Rodolfo, tell us about the culture shock of your move from the Netherlands to Michigan (Grand Rapids). Didn't GR's cultural roots in the Netherlands help to smooth the transition?"

My answer will be short: Not at all. Remember that many of the Dutch people who emigrated to the USA, were those that considered their fellow citizens to be too liberal! Anyone who lives in the Netherlands for a while will notice this.

The cultural shock varied with the region/context. Regarding East Michigan, I can mention 1) poverty, 2) inequality, poor access to good education, limited opportunities and disregard for the environment by the local authorities and the wealthy. As for West Michigan: 1) mindset dominated by religion and the wealthy; 2) general ignorance of what was going on in the rest of the world; 3) a group of very rich people that with their donations get their names and control of a Hospital, a concert Hall, a Research Institute and control of Grand Valley State University. A telephone call was enough to change decisions, etc.

Nevertheless my family and I managed to live there for thirteen years and made good friends which whom we are still often in touch.

I hope that answer your question.

JE comments:  I filed this one under "culture," as in culture shock.  It would be interesting to do a comparative study on the Dutch "diaspora," in places such as West Michigan, South Africa, the Antilles, and Indonesia.  (Manhattan was traded away too early to make a difference.)  Could we generalize that the Nederlanders who left tended to remain more conservative than the ones who stayed?  Now that I think about it, this rule may apply to most nations that colonized other parts of the world.

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