Dutch Language Blog

Volkskrant: I am not Dutch Posted by on Feb 17, 2016 in Culture, News

The writer for the Volkskrant, Nadia Ezzeroili, published a very interesting and controversial column titled Ik ben geen Nederlander: Nederland en ik, we gaan uit elkaar. In this column, Ezzeroili begins by comparing her relationship with the Netherlands as that to a partner or spouse. She recomends that maybe it is time for both to go to couple’s therapy to work out their difference. The column continues with her stating her differences with the Netherlands and how much of an outsider she has felt even though she was born in the Netherlands. She is always labeled as Moroccan rather than Dutch, and this has caused quite a separation for her. She feels like an outsider. She goes on about how the Dutch dream is inexistent for those of different nationalities and she concludes with how the Netherlands pretends to worry about minorities and migrants, but in reality, the country separates them. She concludes the column by saying:

Maar ik vrees dat we relatietherapie niet eens meer moeten overwegen. Onze scheiding van tafel en bed is al realiteit (Ezzeroili, Volkskrant, 30 Jan 2016).

This column has created quite the stir in printed and electronic media. Some writers sympathize with Ezzeroili while others reject her and pretty much ask her to go back to Morocco.

While I was reading some of the responses, I started thinking about a post I wrote a few months ago about the integration process in the Netherlands. One of the readers brought up a very good point about how hard it can be to be part of the Dutch culture regardless of the fact that he speaks Dutch and has lived in the Netherlands for many many years. Then I started thinking of the readers who are Dutch but live outside the Netherlands. Do these readers also feel like outsiders in their cities and towns?

The truth is that we all want and need to belong. The psychoanalyst and social philosopher Erich Fromm states that being separate arouses anxiety. He goes as far as saying that separateness is the source of all anxiety because “to be separate means to be helpless, unable to grasp the world” (Fromm, 1956). Since primitive society, we have been part of a group, whether this group consists of the people we share blood and food with to more developed groups such as those with whom we share citizenship with. In the case of Ezzeroili, she hasn’t felt part of her country for a really long time. It is hard to say if she would feel part of her group if she actually moved to Morocco. I dare say, based on my personal experience, that visiting creates an illusion of “being at home” but actually living there highlights everything that makes you not be at home.

So what do we, migrant citizens, do? Do we need to leave behind our culture and customs to feel at home in the country we live in? Is there a way to feel at home anywhere?  When it comes to Ezzeroili’s column, I do not agree with her. Personally, the column Harriet Duurvoort wrote this past Monday for the Volkskrant comes closer to how I’ve felt like an repeat-immigrant.

Ook voor mij is identiteit voortdurend veranderlijk, dan weer hellend naar de ene kant, dan weer een tijd onder invloed van de andere. Om vervolgens misschien weer een heel nieuwe kant uit te proberen. Grillig en eigenzinnig beïnvloed door de meest uiteenlopende factoren: van familierelaties, vriendschappen en geliefden tot leeftijdsfasen; van opleidingen, de buurt waar je woont en werkkringen tot politiek klimaat en het ervaren van uitsluiting; van indrukwekkende reizen tot spirituele zoektochten. Maar ook films of boeken kunnen plots een nieuwe dimensie toevoegen aan hoe je je identiteit ervaart. Enzovoorts […] Ik heb mezelf altijd meer met het weinigzeggende ‘wereldburger’ geïdentificeerd dan met ‘Nederlander’ […]  Thuis is toch overal en nergens (Duurvoort, Volkskrant, 15 Feb 2016).

What are your thoughts on this? Where do you feel most at home and why?

One Planet . . .One Family . . . Please . . .

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About the Author: Karoly Molina

Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with languages and writing. I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and a little bit of French. I am a writer, reader, language teacher, traveler, and a food lover! I now live in The Netherlands with my husband Riccardo, our cat Mona, and our dog Lisa, and the experience has been phenomenal. The Dutch culture is an exciting sometimes topsy-turvy world that I am happily exploring!


  1. Tony Potter:

    So why ask people to leave comments when you don’t publish them if they don’t agree with your own views?
    There is a lot that is negative in Holland. A LOT
    It’s like your paid by some politically correct group to espouse the virtues of the Dutch.
    Free speech? Not here.

    • Karoly G Molina:

      @Tony Potter Tony, I’m not exactly sure what comments you mean. Unless it is absolutely offensive or spam, comments do not get blocked. I agree with you that there are a lot of negative things in the Netherlands. I also think that there are a lot of positive things. I would be very interested in reading your thoughts.

  2. Errol:

    I think people who have the good fortune to be living in the Netherlands, and have the advantage of having a decent job, should be grateful for their good fortune. Silly things like worrying about feelinng like an “outsider”, not “feeling at home”, and so on are just nonsense. It sounds like people who have nothing to worry about desperately searching for something to worry about.

  3. Kruzee:

    I agree with Errol. Happiness is a choice. Most off the time a pretty easy one at that but choose wisely!
    Question: can you suggest a Dutch language course? My parents spoke it but I only know some slang expressions and sayings. I’m a new addict to your blog. Love it!

    • Karoly G Molina:

      @Kruzee Kruzee, I’m glad you like the blog. I also enjoy reading the posts from the other Dutch bloggers as well! We have quite a variety of topics. I don’t know where you live, but I can suggest the Transparent language platform to learn Dutch. I was able to look around and see what the language courses are like, and I think it is a great platform and you can do this from anywhere in the world. You can also check the language courses universities offer. It is just a matter of trying a few out and seeing what best fits.

  4. Missy:

    EVERYONE feels like an outsider unless she is surrounded by a group of people she has known since childhood. Feeling an outsider has more to do with living physically distant from your extended previous generation than it does with residing in any particular country. Aunties/uncles/grandparents serve a purpose in our individual psychological well being that yes parents/friends cannot provide!
    Great topic!

    • Karoly G Molina:

      @Missy That is very true!