The Cultural Shock – Mia Troendodrono

Cultural Shock - Mia

I remember walking into the room at the first day of this year. With the introducing round one of the girls tells about her origin, Suriname. She studied one year of Law but then started this year with Public Administration, where I met her.  

Mia Troenodrono, is 21 years old and moved here last year with her boyfriend who has a Dutch background. She has lived her whole life in a district called Commewijne on a family property with nine houses, which is normal over there. She lived with her grandmother because her parents lived in the city and were traveling a lot. To give a little idea of the setting; there is a lot of forest, agriculture and much space. Because of the illegal animal trade, she bought parrots and monkeys so they could life in freedom. The animals stayed in the nearby.

Dejuvination before VWO

“So during this week they had to wear pampers, could only sit on the ground and clean the ground with a toothbrush”

            Before going to the university she also went to VWO in Paramaribo. But before you could ‘enter’ VWO at the Ams, she had to do a dejuvenation, like what we have before you become a member of a student association. The students were babies for a whole week. So during this week they had to wear pampers, could only sit on the ground and clean the ground with a toothbrush etc. And in the end they had to roll in mud, and then they were part of VWO. 

Funny teachers

            A difference with the Dutch teachers is that Surinamese teachers made fun of people, and sometimes even gave names but then in a ‘funny way’, while we think that acting in that way is rude. In addition to that, the Surinamese people are always making fun and they are somewhat looser. To explain why they are looser Mia told that when you were late in class they didn’t really make a point about it, because they were always late.  


            One of the reasons why Mia wanted to study in the Holland was because of the economic crisis that is happening in Suriname. Because of this crisis, the education isn’t at it best. On top of that is there only one university in the country, and this university doesn’t offer many options to study like we have here. In addition, there is many favouritism in the politics of Suriname, you can’t avoid arbitrariness, there is no control over the economy of the country and Suriname has a corrupt government. So every store has different prizes and these prizes are really high. ‘everywhere you look you can find a Chinese store. Only in the city, Paramaribo, there are like the ‘real’ stores.’

Adjusting to technology

            So she travelled all the way from Suriname to Holland, with no idea wat to really expect. The first year she had to get used to the differences she encountered. For starters the cold ‘It is so cold here in Holland, I have no idea what to wear.’ But also on the technology side is a difference, She had to find out how everything worked with the sites and stuff, because back home they used technology less. Everything was written down on a chalkboard and all the information you needed were in books. 

To hear or to read?

            Surinamese-Dutch sounds like Dutch but it has it’s differences which Mia encountered; I remember her being the note taker at a PBL-session, and she asked ‘kunnen jullie het verstaan?’ so if we could hear it, but she meant if we could read what she was writing on the board. That is also a obstacle for her during the lectures, sometimes she doesn’t understand something because in Surinamese they have a different meaning to that word. ‘what Dutch people call stroop (syrup), we call water with a colour and sugar.’ Also what we call banana’s is in Surinamese a bakove and a plantains is a banana over there. 

What’s to miss…?

            One thing she really misses is that where she lived they are more bound to each other. The sugar festival, for example, is celebrated with the whole family and even friends, even those who aren’t Muslim are coming over, they even get a day off. But here, everybody celebrates it who are from that culture and with their own group of people. ‘it brings a disadvantage though, because we celebrate almost every cultural celebration we have so many days off, which is nice but for school it is too much.’ 

‘After my studies over here, I want to do something in international area, because I am interested in the backgrounds of humans and cultures. I want to head back to Suriname. So I can go back to my family property, the animals and the nature.’


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