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"During my stay in the Netherlands, I mainly made the culture my own, by making Dutch friends. By doing things with them, visiting famous places and delving into society and politics, I became more and more familiar with the culture. Going out also played a major role in that, because that's how I got to know Dutch music." - Nathaniel Musters

To delve into another culture, I contacted one of my best friends, the Australian-Dutch Nathaniel Musters or Nate, as I call him. He was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, but has dual citizenship through his Dutch father.


His talent as an athlete and basketball player gave him the opportunity to study abroad. He received his bachelor's degree in Economics and Psychology from Lafayette College in the United States and his master's degree in Dublin. He then continued his career as an athlete in a number of European countries, including the Netherlands, where his father grew up and his parents married.

Although Nate and I have not seen each other for quite some time due to the pandemic, we speak regularly. In the interview, which took place remotely, we talked about the Netherlands and Australia and the cultural differences between the two countries.

How did you experience Dutch culture and its norms and values during the two years you spent in the Netherlands? And how is it different from Australian culture?


“It's a difficult question, because from an early age I got a little bit of Dutch culture here and there through my Dutch father and I also regularly visited the Netherlands. As a result, some parts of the culture will stand out to me, while others will be woven into how I was raised.


During my stay in the Netherlands I mainly mastered the culture by making Dutch friends. By doing things with them, visiting familiar places and immersing myself in society and politics, I became more and more familiar with the culture. Going out also played a major role in that, because that's how I got to know Dutch music.


I think the directness is the biggest difference between Dutch and Australians. The Dutch tell you exactly what they think and think and I can appreciate that. Australians could use that a little more. There are Australians who are, but you have to read between the lines a little more often to find out what they actually mean.


What is also very different about the Dutch is that, in my opinion, they attach a greater value to social status and how others think about you. I think this is best reflected in the way the Dutch dress. It doesn't matter where you go. It could be the supermarket, a club or a fancy diner, but the Dutch are always well dressed. Australia is the opposite. People try to dress as casual as possible here. Only when they go to a really dignified affair will they put on smart clothes."


Can you also tell me more about different aspects of Australian culture, such as food and family life?

“Aussies are very much down to earth and laid back. We also have a lot of self-mockery. Outside of the social aspects I have already mentioned, Australian culture is very fragmented. You have typical 'Ozzies', who have lived in Australia for several generations, but the country is also so diverse that you can't really speak of a real 'Australian' culture.


The country mainly consists of immigrants who have moved here in the last 50-100 years to build a new life. There are many different cultures and influences with people coming from all over. This diversity makes the Australian culture very nice, but it is also very difficult to name specific points there. We have of course taken over a lot of things from the United Kingdom, because we used to be part of England as a colony. We are of course still a relatively young country.”


I myself have always had the idea that Australian nature is also part of the culture and that Australians are very proud of it and want to preserve nature. Is this correct?


"Yes that's right. We are indeed very proud of our nature and the animals. It is often the reason why many tourists come to the country. Still, I think it varies from person to person.”

Nature is also very important to the original inhabitants of Australia. What does the culture of the indigenous inhabitants, the Aborigines, mean to you? And how is the interaction between Australian culture and the culture of the indigenous communities?


“That's a really deep question that I could talk about for two hours, so I'll try to keep it short. Indigenous culture is unfortunately very often overlooked in many parts of Australia when it should be celebrated. For me, they are the real founding fathers of the country. They were here before every form of Western civilization set in. The worst thing is that as a group they are neglected and pushed aside and that Australia urgently needs to improve something."



Can you name a few examples showing this injustice?


“At the moment you mainly see it in mining and the search for raw materials. Money often gets in the way, so native land and their heritage are often not properly protected. In addition, there are also many unjust stereotypes, which create negative images, which are often caused by the arrival of the Western community in Australia.”



Are there also things that have adopted Western Australian culture from the indigenous people? What do you encounter in everyday life?


“What I really appreciate is that Australia has adopted many aboriginal names for place names. There are many places named after Aboriginal people. There is also a lot of art made by the indigenous people.”


Do you also see this in architecture? Which architectural aspects are quintessentially Australian, and how do you see those Indigenous influences when they are there?


“I don't think there is clearly a typical Australian architecture and planning. Occasionally indigenous forms and art are incorporated into the architecture and they also try to recruit architects and artists who are Aboriginal. I think we mainly adopt many architectural concepts from Europe and America. It's really a variation of the two. The indigenous influences are mainly reflected in color patterns. I should add that I may not be the best person to request this. I don't have a lot of knowledge of architecture myself.


Although many architectural elements have been adopted from other cultures and countries, can you say that Australians have adapted their houses and buildings to their living environment?


“A difference between the Netherlands and Australia is that we don't have a hall at the front door here, like the Dutch do. I think it's supposed to keep the cold out and because of the warm climate in Australia we simply don't need it. And the colors of houses here are often lighter due to the climate. Another difference is that in Europe you often have a separate toilet and guests do not often use the bathroom.”




As a last question I would like to know what makes you Australian and which part is really Dutch?


“I wouldn't know what makes me 'real' Dutch. I mainly feel Australian, but as I said before that is difficult to figure out, because my father is Dutch and I don't know exactly which things come from him as a person and which things are connected to the Dutch culture. I am a bit of a chameleon. By that I mean that I easily adapt to the people I am surrounded by. If these are Dutch I will probably behave more 'Dutch'.


The only thing I am really Dutch at is being frugal with money. And my height, I am two meters and eight centimeters. Being tall is also really Dutch.”

Schermafbeelding 2021-01-21 om 02.43.32.
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