Friday, September 26, 2014

Cultural Differences

I've been brewing this one for a while.  Since things are a bit stressful here, I thought I would make a fun post. Since I've been talking about doing this post for a while, I thought it was high time.

Births.  I can't comment too much on this because I (obviously) have not had personal experience with this.  However, being able to witness these experiences through my friends, I'm getting an idea what giving birth in the Netherlands is like.  Most births are at home (you can also go to a birthing centre (that is not a hospital) or a hospital).  The Dutch are very relaxed when it comes to birthing and very much believe in listening to the mother's body (not the many machines one would be hooked up to in North America).  I don't know if I would ever choose this option, but a lot of them do it without flinching.  Also little to no meds.  Sometimes they'll even start walking the baby on the birth day.  It sounds silly (really; I'd have to witness this to believe it) but they like to test motor skills - and they keep them walking!  We also have friends who started feeding whole foods to their baby after a few weeks (i.e very soft, very steamed vegetables).  I think this is fabulous.  So they're very much progressed in this area.

Deaths.  One of W's uncle's wives passed away recently (cancer) and I was informed the body stayed at home until cremation.  I'll tell you flat out I did *not* believe this one at first.  What has been considered an old practice in Canada from a hundred years ago, is still done here today.  Not always, but I think it depends what the deceased wants, what the living wants, type of death, etc.  I believe it's very rare for embalming (not typical Dutch practice) so they'll rent a cooler bed and place it under the body to keep it for a few days until the body will be cremated (I think it was 4 in this case?).  I'm not kidding you.  The body was at home.  They were receiving no visitors at this time (I think this is by choice?).  I take things in stride usually and haven't gotten *that* much culture shock here, but this one threw me.  We were unable to attend the funeral as it was quite a distance away, but I heard it was nice.  In typical Dutch fashion, they view death a little differently than we do, I think.  Where you and I might find it obsurd and unfathomable, they find it a personal way to say goodbye instead of in a cold, impersonal funeral home.  There's something to be said for that.  W. promptly told me (when we were having this discussion) that I was going to the funeral home right away and it's not open to discussion :)  I was okay with that.  Not that I'd given it much thought.  Not in this country, anyways.

The dentist.  When I went for my dental checkup I was surprised how little I was in the chair.  Maybe.. 5-10 minutes?  They didn't do all the stuff you'd expect from a dentist in Canada.  No flouride (I think it's discouraged here, but I'm guessing based on cultural observations), no cleaning.  The dentist does most of it himself; he looks you over, flosses, etc etc, but you're not in the chair for half an hour getting things done by a hygenist.  While I was very skeptical he was doing a good job, he did notice a couple things upon observation that you wouldn't know to look for unless you were really looking.  I've seen him a couple times since and I have faith he's a good dentist.  When I become more comfortable, I'll ask why they don't do all that stuff they do in Canada.

It seems to me there were a couple of smaller things I wanted to discuss, but I don't remember.  I think I'll wrap it up for now anyways since it's dinner time (@ 18:30 - late by Dutch standards!) and W. will be home soon.

Hope y'all have a great weekend.  Supposed to be a bit warmer this weekend, if not much sun. Get outside before it gets too cold to!

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