Exchange, Panama, The Netherlands

The Nutella Syndrom

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The Nutella Syndrom: 

liking things that you used to hate in your homecountry,
just because it’s something you know and they remind you of home

Having been on an exchange I stumbled upon this odd sensation. It’s probably a very well-known feeling for exchange students and I am sure that we will all suffer from this at one point, some more than the others.

At home, before I went on an exchange, I was never much of a nationalist. Maybe I was even the complete opposite of a nationalist. I pretty much thought everything from my country sucked, and other countries did everything better. Yet being on an exchange, all those things I used to dislike, I now love!

For those who have no idea what I mean with the Nutella-syndrom, let me explain. About 2 years ago we hosted a girl from Italy. She had been in the Netherlands for 3 months already, and when she came to us, her former hostmother told us that she was very picky about food, but she loved Nutella. So we bought her a ton of Nutella and I asked her jokingly ¨So does the Nutella here taste better than the Nutella in Italy?¨ Then she told me that back in Italy she never ate Nutella, but coming here to the Netherlands it was something she knew, something that reminded her of home, so she liked it!
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Whenever I see a Heineken commercial I suddenly feel a very patriotic feeling and I just can’t help it to tell everybody that i`ts from the Netherlands. It even happens with the beers that are ‘importada de Holanda’ (imported from Holland), but that I have honestly never heard of before, like Amsterdam, Hollandia and Breda. And that while at home I never even drank beer.

It’s just these little things that remind me of home, that make me proud of where I am from. Apparently the Netherlands won the Baseball World Cup in 2011, in Panama. I honestly didn`t even know we had a baseball team untill my panamanian classmates told me about it, but I take much pride in the fact that we beat Cuba (which according to my classmates is a very very good team). And as I was reading the history book of my sister, desperately trying to find some Dutch painter to say “Look this is from my country! MY COUNTRY!”.

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Another example: Robin van Persie. Oh I used to hate him so much, I am not even sure why, but thanks to him, some people atleast know the Netherlands is a country, and when I see his interviews he has the same accent I have, which makes me feel like I am not the only one that makes awkward mistakes trying to speak another language.

Somehow it`s oddly comforting to think that we both live abroad, but have the same history, walked the same streets, watched the same TV channels, speak the same language and most of all, shares a culture with you.

They say exchanges are about getting to know and love another country, but it’s also about getting to know and love your own country, and I think the Nutella Syndrom is a part of this*

And when I say “No soy gringa, soy Holandesa!” (“I am not American, I am Dutch”) I say it con orgullo (with pride)!

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*note: after going back home I experienced RNS, Reversed Nutella Syndrom, when you start missing the things you hated the most about your exchange year.

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