© Sven Menschel
I have always had the fascination to live on my own and the curiosity to see what I will make of myself. I finally got the opportunity to do that when I decided to move to Wageningen to do my master’s degree. While my parents were in extreme worry about how I would manage in a foreign land, I was secretly counting down the days to when I could start a life of my own 4,415 miles away from my home country, India. For what it’s worth, it has proven to be the best decision of my life so far.
Many of the Dutch and European readers reading this might think: ‘what’s so special about moving out of our parent’s house, every kid after high school does it’. But it is kind of a big deal where I come from. As I interacted with my Dutch friends in Wageningen, I noticed this drastic difference between how this moving out thing works in the two different cultures. And that’s why I thought maybe it is interesting to learn about the differences and know how I made the best of both worlds.
In European culture children at their tender ages, just like young birds, are expected to spread out their wings and leave their nests, to find their own path and a new identity. Eventually, they make a living for themselves with all the experiences they gathered. During their time away from home, they explore the outside world, various exposures help self-discovery, and the kind of people they meet all along their way moulds them into different personalities. Most importantly, they learn to be self-sufficient and grow by learning from their own first-hand experiences and mistakes.
Boys can even settle down in their parent’s house with their new brides and start a family of their own.
Indian culture, on the contrary, believes in close-knit living, whether they are the grandparents or children, joint families are deeply rooted in the Indian mindsets. It is absolutely normal for girls to live with their parents until they have to relocate for employment or if they are married off. Boys, on the other hand, can even settle down in their parent’s house with their new brides and start a family of their own. In this type of living situation, we learn values and traditions that run in the family and our personalities are moulded by close advice from and guidance of the elders. We eventually create our living from our personal experiences and grow from not only our own mistakes but also those of our elders, as they normally counsel us through important life decisions.
Having lived the first half my life the traditional way, I came to Wageningen to make a new nest for myself. Here I live my own adventure with my parent’s assistance just a phone call away. I enjoy the space that I have for experimenting and self-growth. Now, I can proudly say that with my family values intact, I set trail to make my own identity the Dutch way. Indeed, there is nothing as wholesome as getting the best of both worlds and embarking on the most exciting journey of life. As I write this blog sitting in my room in India, I still refer to Wageningen as home.