Tuesday, February 5, 2013


You learn about culture shock, and you read about culture shock but nothing truly prepares you for when you experience culture shock for the first time in a new country. 
On our first day in the Netherlands my wife and I had planned to take the train from Oss to Den Hague to spend the night.  However, there is no ticket window at our station, only self serve ticket machines that DO NOT take VISA or Mastercard, just euro coins, NOT bills.  In order for us to go from Oss to Den Hauge it would have cost us €37.20 and it ALL had to be in coins. So we collected enough change to at least get us to the next big station (Den Bosch) “with a human” at a ticket window.  Then we could purchase the rest of our fare for our journey.

(VISA & Mastercard NOT accepted at these ticket machines)
So, we figured out our plan, got our tickets to Den Bosh and we were ready. The train arrived minutes after we completed our purchase and we jumped aboard. We were feeling good, really good, that was until the train stopped.  Suddenly announcements were being made (in Dutch) but we didn’t panic yet.  It had snowed early that day so we figured it was just a delay because of the storm.  We began moving again but then came to another stop.  This went on a few more times until we came to a complete dead stop for almost an hour.  During the whole time announcements were being made (still al in Dutch) but no one was really panicking so we just went with the flow.  
We finally got the scoop from a travel companion who interpreted the annoucement for us.  Apparently there was a defective train ahead of us and they needed to remove it from the track.  As a result, our train after sitting for an hour had to go back to the station that we just left. We would all need to exit and wait for another train to come. We were headed right back to where we started.  Oh, FUDGE. They said another train would be at that station shortly so we could begin our journey again.
After returning to Oss Station, my wife and I and all of our other fellow distraught passengers boarded the new train and we were off (again.)  This is where the culture shock began to set in.  I was fine with the train stoppage, and not being able to understand the announcements earlier, because I figured based on other reactions we’d eventually get on our way.  But it was the post experience that affected me.  All of the other passengers were sitting and talking, some joking (deducted by their laughing), others (I guess) grumbling about the situation.  I felt myself being on the outside looking in during this period.  It was strange since this scenario would have been something I would have loved to have been participating in if something like that happened on the R6 Septa train  back home.    
These types of situations seem to bring people together for a least a few short minutes. No lie, I was watching two passengers joking and at the one point the girl offered the man a bit of her orange snack. I felt like I was in one of those feel good Coke commercials where everyone was sharing sodas and singing with polar bears.  But alas, no Coke for me, not even a lousy orange.  I wanted so much to listen and to contribute to what was going on around but couldn’t because it felt strange with the language barrier and the fact that I was a bit intimated by a train full of disgruntled Dutch passengers.
This was the first, and most likely not the last culture shock moment.  But in a way I’m grateful for the whole adventure not only just so I could blog about it but I think I needed the experience to help me break out of my comfort zone. 

1 comment:

  1. And you can get your money back, since the train was more than an hour late.