Culture Guide Int'l Lifestyle

The Thread That Connects Us

Guest Post By Jessica Lipowski

Around the world, people are fundamentally the same. No matter where you are, in which country you are visiting or living, you will find numerous similarities. Of course, we all know there are differences, but at the core we are alike. Please allow me to explain.

When I lived in Utrecht, a city situated in the center of the Netherlands, and commuted to Amsterdam on a regular basis, I noticed several universal traits. As I walked along the cobblestone streets to the train station, people were swiftly walking or biking by, in a hurry to get to work. At the station, the atmosphere was even more alive like a beehive. I bumped into many of the same passengers each morning, sometimes waving and nodding a brief hello as recognition.


In the train, some munched on their homemade peanut butter or cheese sandwiches (not the two ingredients together mind you), while others purchased a croissant or piece of fruit beforehand at the station in the few minutes they had until the train departed. Sometimes I’d catch someone doze off en route, but most were busy checking their email, reading or preparing for the busy day ahead. What’s more, I noticed coffee was, and is, a staple. It seems to be a universal truth across cultures that people love and need their caffeine.

As I biked in Amsterdam, weaving through rush hour traffic, I saw the mothers and fathers dropping their kids off at school, tiny, little fingers interlaced with the parent’s. This sight melted my heart. To this day when I see a moment like that, it takes me back to my childhood, when I would go to school and my Mom or Dad would drop me off, kiss me goodbye and wish me a great day. It’s very much the same here in the Netherlands.

Over the last four years, I’ve seen young couples kissing on a bench along the historic canals. I’ve seen elderly couples holding hands, taking a mid-day stroll or just waiting for the tram. I’ve seen young children climbing on a play structure, shrieking in pleasure. I’ve seen families gathered around the dinner table, sharing a meal together and engaging in conversation. These sights, familiar and comforting, are ones you can find everywhere, not just in Amsterdam.

People are people. Amsterdam is home to 178 nationalities, and while we may have been raised in different environments, in general we share the same emotions, stresses and joys. We want to do well. We simply want to live, laugh and love. It is part of being human, no matter from which culture we come. In a way, we are all tied together by the same thread.


This post originally appeared on Jessica Lipowski’s website. Read the post here, titled “What We All Share,” and follow her on Twitter @JLipowski. She is also a host of two weekly twitter chats: a cultural travel chat using the hashtag #CultureTrav and another on the road less travelled (#TRLT) .