My first post with a Dutch title! I'm learning a little bit I swear!
I'm in my third week of school now and honestly, there are a lot more differences than I originally had thought there would be. One thing that I was introduced to even before school started was boeken kaften, or book covering. After your school books arrive in the mail, it is your responsibility to preserve and take care of them for the year.
In the United States, or at least where I live, you pick up your books and just throw them in your backpack. There is no real concern for the wellbeing of the books. Throughout the year pages will be ripped out, corners creased, and most commonly, the covers will continue to wear away.
Here, they take care to cover their books before the beginning of the school year. Whether it be with "wrapping paper" or fabric sleeves, by the first day of school everyone's books will be covered.
As my host mom told me, it is a tradition for the family to sit together and cover their books with one another in the weeks before school. Learning how to cover your books is something that you learn from your mother and will then teach your children later on. It really is a family affair. One of Luts' friends, Petra, came over to teach me how to cover my books because "she's an expert". She wasn't kidding! Every corner of my books is crisp and perfect because of the methods she showed me.
Books also just look so much better and more uniform when they are covered. On the first day of school, I was shocked by all of the different colors and patterns that everyone had on their textbooks. To me, it's just another accessory or extension of your style. Much like clothes, you can express yourself through the way you cover your books. Plus, they look super cute.
I know that this might not be fascinating to everyone, but I found this interesting because it supports a larger theme I've been picking up on. Especially compared to the United States, the Dutch are all about conserving and limiting waste. By protecting their books, each book can have a lifespan two times or more than of an American textbook. Even though this doesn't necessarily seem like much, imagine how much money and paper it spares over an extended period of time.
According to Luts, the Dutch still think they throw away too much. She was comforted when I explained just how much more waste the average American creates... Yay for new perspectives and points of view!