Saturday, 20 September 2008

Helen's Birthday: Integration

So in trying to integrate a bit with the Dutch, we attended Helen's Birthday party. Helen is a friend of Ken's, she's half Chinese, half Dutch, half German, half Indonesian, etc, etc. It was a good party, but we didn't integrate as much as we hoped, except with Helen [although we did integrate with others to a certain extent]. It's difficult with this different culture, and especially the language to get into the circle of conversations that occur at a party or anywhere for that matter. And it's not only in The Netherlands; we've been trying to figure out this complex dance of communication and integration ever since France, and then Finland. It's not that I am averse to integration or incapable of it, or that the other person is as well, but it's just a simple the fact that integration is a difficult process and takes TIME - which is what we don't have. It's like a speed dating process for us when it comes to making friends, we simply get to know them and then we move on the the next country [in this case]. How does one get from a simple hello-goodbye relationship to something more substantial and wholesome - a friendship? Is it that they don't want to get close to us since we leave so soon? Do they see our attempts at friendship superficial? Is it that they are shy and we have to make the first move? Is it that they see us as segregated and amongst our selves all the time and that it's difficult to enter the circle? Is it the language? Or is it that they are purely internationally averse and would rather stick with what they're accustomed to?

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