A couple of nights ago we went out to celebrate Lily’s birthday. It wasn’t a large gathering and I knew some of the people invited because we always meet for her birthday.
Soon enough though, we were joined by a friend of a friend who happened to be from the Netherlands.
And I was thrilled! It’s not everyday that I get the chance to sit with a Dutchie, let alone a Dutchie living in Lebanon!
After the introductions were made, he asked where I studied and I replied, Maastricht, which was met with a favorable response by him.
“I’m from Amsterdam,” he said earnestly.
Without missing a beat, I opened my big mouth and said, “Oh, I hated Amsterdam!”
The poor guy was so shocked that I spoke so badly of his hometown that his face couldn’t hide it.
“I’m so sorry! But in Amsterdam’s defense, I only spent two hours there. We were on the way back from Keukenhof!”
“And how long did you live in the Netherlands,” he asked while I wasn’t aware that I was digging myself a bigger hole.
“A year and you only went to Amsterdam for two hours and you hated it?”
“Umm, well, yeah. I never had the chance.”
Simply put, at that moment I realized I had no answer and I had insulted the guy’s hometown. When I continued to tell him that I got so horribly lost, he could only laugh but I knew I was making things worse.
So I spent the whole night apologizing and trying to make up for blurting out what I said. I would’ve felt equally as offended if someone said the same thing in the same way about Beirut.
A life lesson to be learned here is that there’s always a way to phrase what you have to say without hurting someone’s feelings.
Luckily, the Dutch are super laid back and by the end of the evening we were laughing and it was such a great opportunity for me to discuss my experience with a native and vice versa.