SE correspondent Olga Lartseva met with Dr Vyshkin in his office and he kindly agreed to answer her questions.
Tell us, please, about the purpose of your visit the Netherlands?
The purpose of my visit the Netherlands was a business trip. I went to Berlin first with a group of students for the practice. It was called the “Studienbesuch” in German. In English it means a kind of a studying trip, so to say. We visited on the invitation of the Construction Company in Berlin. And it was a very interesting trip in fact because our host prepared a good programme for us. We also visited many museums of the German capital and the city itself is a kind of a museum of history, culture and especially architecture. It was very important for our architecture students to see the new development of the city, of the place of the former war. They built unique complexes, like Sony Centre, Potsdamerplatz. It was very interesting and exciting and I think it was very fruitful for their new ideas.
Вышкин Ефим Григорьевич
проректор по международным связям, зав. кафедрой лингвистики и межъязыковой коммуникации, доктор филологических наук, профессор Самарского архитектурно-строительного института
With the same group of students we went on a sight-seeing trip to the Netherlands, to Rotterdam, a city, which is considered to be an architectural capital of the whole Europe. There was also a programme which included the visits to the main architectural sights and museums of Rotterdam, Amsterdam and other cities. It was a very tense and a very fruitful visit.
Having the main idea of our edition in mind, what could you say about English as the language of communication with the foreigners visiting the Netherlands. Are the Dutch good at English?
The Dutch are very good at English as well the Germans and everywhere else in Europe, maybe except France because the French are very arrogant. Even if they can speak English, they don’t want to do that. They prefer that the people should speak French. But nevertheless English is useful anywhere in the world. After the Netherlands we went to China. In China it was quite a kind of a collapse. Because everywhere I can use English, German or French and in China it was impossible. But still there are rather many people speaking English, especially in southern part, in Shanghai.
But let’s return to our muttons, as the French say. The Dutch are really very good at English. Maybe they are the best in Europe. Due to the geographical situation, I think. Their country is at the crossroads between Great Britain and Europe. There is a ferry and they also travel a lot. So, everybody speaks English, except very old people, they tend to speak German.
Were there any stereotypes about the country and the people which were destroyed during your visit to the Netherlands?
I had no stereotypes about this country because I visited it so many times. It was the first country I went to and it was 15 years ago. So I had no stereotypes and there was nothing to be destroyed. I love this country because it’s really very nice. The people are very friendly and open. The fact that they speak English is very important because they are not nationalists. They love their Queen, they love their country and they do a lot to preserve it, to preserve their language and culture. So, I would not say that I had any stereotypes that were destroyed.
Did you notice any ethnic peculiarities which were unexpected?
I could repeat that because of my experience with the country there was nothing unexpected. Maybe for the first time when I came I was surprised at quite a mix of the people from different nationalities. There are a lot of people from the oriental countries, especially from South East of Asia. Indonesia was a colony of the Netherlands for a long time. And there are a lot people from Surinam in South Africa. It was also a colony.
Well, I was shocked, sorry to say that, in the part of Amsterdam the tourists visit, which looks like as a red-lanthern district where I could see women sitting by the windows and many of them were of oriental origin.
The last time I was there it was a little bit weird travelling by train, and the people were horrible, I would say. There were drug addicts or something like that. It was late at night and I didn’t like it. But they were not the Dutch, maybe not all of them were the Dutch. They were a mixture of international crowd.
How for short could you characterize the people inhabiting the Netherlands? The Dutch. What are they?
The Dutch are very friendly. I have made many friends among them. They are very helpful. You can address everyone in the streets just asking for help and they do it with great pleasure.
What cities did you manage to visit? What were they famous for?
This time we visited Rotterdam. The city was destroyed during the war. But they reconstructed it and built a new city which is considered to be the architectural capital of Europe as they say. Amsterdam is famous for canals and museums. The Hague is a residential and working place of the Queen. Utreht is famous for its monuments. Delft – is an old capital, that’s the burial place for the members of the royal family. So, we’ve visited a lot of nice cities.
I would recommend everyone to visit all of the places I have mentioned. All the cities are very unique. I am sure you’ll be impressed visiting them and you’ll enjoy them.
What type of weather is the most typical for the Netherlands?
When we went there, the weather was not typical. It was February. It was chilly and rainy and not pleasant. But we had a lucky escape from there because after we left the country there struck a very severe frost. It was the first time for many years that the water in the canals got frozen. But luckily we did not see it. It was cold enough and rainy enough at the time we were there.
What can you say about the national cuisine of the Netherlands? Which dishes and drinks did you like (did not like)?
On tthe one hand, the Dutch were peasants and they ate very simple food, all kinds of vegetables, like for example lentil, potatoes, all kinds of carrots and so on.
On the other hand it is delicious. It’s fish and seafood because it’s a sea-country and there’s a season when they eat raw herring. They just salt it a bit, give it some minutes to stay and then eat it raw. It’s delicious and very good and I like it very much.
As for the drinks, the national drink is (dziniva) – a kind of vodka. I can’t say that I liked it. But when the Dutchmen came to me to Samara they did not like kvas, they hated its horrible taste.
There’s a thing I don’t like. It’s their special sweets. They are liquefied with something horrible. But they like it.
Why is it necessary to visit to Netherlands for those who love travelling?
It is necessary to visit to the Netherlands for those who love travelling because it’s a unique country with such a combination of different trends in everything, especially in culture and history of art. There are so many traditional things preserved and they are really so nice and attractive. For the Russians there’s a special museum of Peter the Great, the place that they should visit.