Story by: Shatha Tamim, NewBees Matching, Zaandam
“I managed to find my right path here — I'm happy to share my experience in this wonderful country, and inspire others to undertake this new journey in their own way."
During the course of my time living in Netherlands, I've faced a different culture, a difficult language, and many new religious dimensions and diversity. I was introduced to experiencing a new life full of new challenges.
I was honored to join the NewBees team, and I enjoy working with such wonderful, amazing and thoughtful Dutch people. During this time period, I've been observing the similarities and dissimilarities between Dutch and Arab cultures, especially in the workplace.
Different cultures, different mindsets
Let’s start with the Dutch mindset in the workplace. Normally, the Dutch are used to taking time to think before starting any step: make plans, then discussion, discuss the discussion and so on. I was really impressed with this teamwork and mindset, which is based on maintaining very structured, organized and well-planned steps.
Moving to the Arabic mindset: there's one meeting where we discuss things, and Abracadabra, the project is ready! Most of the time, you'll find that the bosses are the only decision makers, and they don't mind ignoring the ideas of the employees participating in the project — they think they are the experts and know how to lead the project towards success. Sharing your feedback might lead to termination or being blacklisted.
Coming to the most enjoyable part of the day: the lunch break at work. As you might be aware, Arabs are food lovers. And we like to share it! It's part of our tradition to share our food with our friends at school and colleagues at work — at one table, eating the same food together. During lunchtime in the Netherlands, people eat from their own lunch boxes. Some sit alone, and others share a table, but not the food.
Do you feel sleepy at work?
The Dutch are very talented in making short stretching exercises (planking) as a way to refresh during the long working hours. For us Arabs, we can simply get refreshed by a cup of coffee and a big slice of dessert.
The heart of the matter
As for the Dutch people's character, I can say that they are very practical, direct, and forward — but at the same time, they are very sensible and supportive. The Arabic character is quite different: they love to choose the grey color when asked to choose between black and white! It sounds funny, but this is the reality. The Dutch work at the work time, enjoying the time off: good balance! Arabs can't separate professional and private life — in my work, I can not do it!
With all the dissimilarities, we're able to meet on one point: we make sure that no matter how different we are, we're still very similar. I enjoy every day with this team. We speak, laugh at Arabic and Dutch words — "Inshallah" (Arabic language expression for "God willing") is a positive Arabic word, but to Dutch people, this means it will never happen! The expressions are often very hard to understand, but still a funny way to learn.
I learn new things every day — I am inspired by their ideas, and I hope I can give them some inspiration through my thoughts. I managed to find my right path here — I'm happy to share my experience in this wonderful country, and inspire others to undertake this new journey in their own way.