When I came to the Netherlands, one of my cultural shock was about the weather – being the first open topic after exchanging greetings in every social gathering or in every new contact I made. The introduction and first question usually goes like ‘Hi I’m Eleane, where in Netherlands do you live’? Then I will answer and the next followed question will be ‘oh nice, how is the weather in Rotterdam’? After answering that, the next first 15 minute of the conversation will all be about the weather with questions like ‘how is the weather in your country, how do you feel with the changing weather here, do you miss the weather in your country etc’? And if I get unlucky and someone also joins the conversation, then the whole weather talks starts all over again!
Back then it was kind of annoying me because technically, I didn’t see anything special about the weather taking a chunk and being the focus points in most conversations. At some point when questions and talks about the weather start to unfold, the thoughts that goes through my mind would be like ”Isn’t it obvious that it’s cold or rainy or sunny here? Why ask me about the weather when we’re all in the Netherlands experiencing the frequent weather changes”? I didn’t really see the big deal in talking about the weather and using it as some kind of icebreaker in most conversations because in my country, it’s not a big deal and we barely talk about the weather. We have only two weather conditions, either sunny or rainy but mostly sunny! The consistency of the weather in West Africa makes the work of weather forecasters quite easy in predicting the weather for the week; it’s either 32 or 31 degrees, so I guess you’ll understand if I say I didn’t see it as a big deal to talk about the weather during social gathering or first contact with people!
After several years of living in the Netherlands, I have come to understand why the weather comes in, in almost every conversation. The weather was once described to me by a friend in a very funny way. Back then when my friend made that statement, I got annoyed and thought he was being sexiest but now, I do understand the connection he tried to make. In a social gathering where the weather was again an opening conversation, my friend whom I couldn’t tell if he was trying to be funny or not made this statement about the weather “the weather here in Holland is indifferent from their women, they change unexpectedly, they are nice and cheerful in a short while and you meet them again later in the day, and they are moody and grumpy”. He laughed after his statement but I didn’t find it funny and maybe because I didn’t see it as a joke or funny! However, reflecting back on my friend statement, I don’t think the analogy he made about the weather changes should only relate to Dutch women but to almost every Human being. By nature, we do have our own mood swings just as the weather in the Netherlands do have it’s surprising changes!
Woe I can’t believe I’m writing about the weather, I have become really Dutch!
Looking at today’s lovely weather in the last day of March 2021 – spring, I just couldn’t wait to finish my lessons and step out. As a result of my eagerness to wanting to step out but couldn’t made me to appreciate the sudden sunny weather we have and came to understand why in the Netherlands, talking about the weather is a big deal in most conversations. The reason being that throughout the year, the warm lovely sun shines it light on us just one time in a season. And of all my long stay in Europe, today is the only day I have been so thrilled about the weather and really wish to step out to go lie down at the beach with a glass of cocktail in my hands, sipping it gently to quench my thirst while I look at the beautiful sun through my sunglass. However, I cannot do all that at this moment because of my work related obligations. I bet I’m not in this alone, my colleagues, students and a lot more other people would love to step out as well but cannot do so as a result of their work obligations that Covid 19 has caused us all to stay and work in the confines of our homes. And so we cannot freely be outside to meet physically at work while enjoying the beautiful sunny weather the day brings.
I wish to be at the beach in this sunny weather, where do you wish to be?
Wow I can’t believe I’m writing about the weather!