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January 20, Rotterdam School of Management, Rotterdam, 2:40PM Local Time

It's my first time on campus! I received an email this morning about a Practical Information Session being run by the International Office, so decided to check it out. Highlights included the presenters recommending that we get a Dutch boyfriend/girlfriend so as to better learn the language, hearing about the Erasmus Student Network Rotterdam (a group that aims to enrich the experience of international students), and being the only individual in the room to raise their hand when asked if the temperature at Rotterdam was warmer than at home (this is how Canadian stereotypes are propagated).

However, the most interesting section was the one on Dutch culture. The Dutch are very down to earth, and don't like it when people show off or even stand out, both socially and in the school setting. This is completely different from my North American upbringing, where striving and standing out are encouraged. As a first-generation Canadian, this ideal was even further reinforced by my immigrant parents. In contrast, Dutch students aim to pass, not succeed. A 6.5/10 is perfectly acceptable, and teachers very rarely distribute perfect, or near perfect evaluations. Basically, as the presenter suggested, "try not to stand out". You can imagine how uncomfortable this made me feel as I sat there in my favourite silver combat boots. 

I'm curious as to how this mentality might manifest at a business school, an environment which promotes self-marketing and self-sales, at least from my experience back home. Furthermore, as business schools are also often viewed as a breeding ground for "douchebags", I wonder how other students at Erasmus University view their peers from RSM. At the same time, this is just a stereotype; I've met my share of rude "nice Canadians" and nice "rude Americans", so I'm refraining from forming opinions until I've interacted with more Dutch people myself!


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