There’s something beautiful about the difference between nations and the uniqueness of cultures.
I never want to compare cultures, not in the way of ‘this country is better than this one’ or ‘I don’t like this or that about this nation’. Judging and negatively comparing cultures has never helped anyone, especially not those who wish to enjoy traveling. I do, however, love to notice the differences and wonder about the cause and purpose of the unique identity of a culture. I spent my summer in the Netherlands, the country I grew up in, and I was confronted with the hurried pace, the driven atmosphere and the critical attitude of Dutch people. Although these sound negative, I realized that they’re just merely indicators of a HUGE treasure underneath the surface. The Netherlands is a nation of innovation, excellence and initiative. It’s loaded with potential and creativity, and that potential is driving us forward. The Dutch people have a great sense of discernment, which sometimes can result in a critical mindset, but in its origin is a very precious tool to find out what’s truly going on. This is a country where world-class leaders, record-breakers and history-shaping inventions will be birthed. Seeing the Dutch culture through this lens, made its ‘flaws’ forgivable.
But I have to be honest, sometimes the constant drive and hurry made me tired. So my family and I planned a vacation; quality-time and rest, starting in France. It was exactly what I needed. If France would be a Disney Princess, she would be Sleeping Beauty. There’s a peaceful stillness laying on the land, like a warm blanket that preserves the character that’s been crafted for centuries. Her villages are living stories of her rich history, with castles and bridges telling of her medieval glory-days. After those days, she seems to have fallen into a peaceful slumber. There’s no striving for change, no rushing into innovation. This is France and it is good.
Every time I visit this nation, and especially her country-side, I’ve been welcomed by the calm atmosphere that’s she wraps herself in. France knows how to take her time, and in this lack of hurry, an outstanding quality is crafted. France is famous for its art, its fashion, its history, its bread and wine. This is no surprise to me. Beautiful things take time. And France takes that time. She maybe isn’t striving to become the best of the world in everything, but she knows how to put quality in the things she loves. Quality that’s being shaped by centuries. Quality that can’t be rushed.
So I leaned back into her peaceful embrace. I enjoyed her quality, her history and her friendliness. Even in Paris, which seems to be the outburst of the energy that hasn’t been expressed in the rest of the country, I could feel the constant presence of beauty that took her time. The city of lights, the city of history and the city of love; a perfect statue in a country of sleeping beauty.