No spang in Suriname

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Living for a few months in Suriname was one of the most unique experiences ever. In October 2016 until January 2017, I did my internship in Suriname. A year later in the summer of 2018 I decided to go back to Suriname to visit all my friends again. In this blog I’m going to tell you why I love Suriname and why you should visit this underrated country. I can’t wait to go back.

If you want to know more about Suriname, read the blog What to know about Suriname.

During my life in Suriname, I did two internships because I needed enough hours for school to pass the internships class. The first internship was at the MOB (Medisch Opvoedkundig Bureau) which is a medical educational bureau. My second internship was in the Kennedystichting which is a boarding school for children who are deaf and hard of hearing. For the latter, I learned Surinamese sign language so I could communicate with the children and youth.

Why you should visit Suriname

Suriname is the perfect destination if you love some adventure. Most people live in the north on the coast because the more you go inland, the more the land is covered in jungle.

In Suriname there is the saying “no spang” which is Sranan Tongo (language of Suriname) and means no stress. It’s the perfect destination to relax.

There are many ethnicities in Suriname which makes the country rich in culture. You will see many cultures coming together and they have respect for each other. There are prejudices about different religions, and you sometimes hear them talk about some religions but in general they all get along.

The hospitality is amazing in Suriname. Surinamese are friendly and very open; people will just start talking with you, but they can be direct and say things like ‘that person is stupid’ or ‘you’re too thin’ or ‘you are really white’ etc. Most people say what they think so you really know how they feel about you. Another thing you need to know is that if you’re a woman, the men will annoy you at some point. They will constantly shout things or obviously look at you or make a specific noise with the mouth. It’s annoying after a while but I recommend you to not give attention to this behavior.

What can you do in Suriname

There is much to explore in Suriname. You need to know that there is a lot to do in Suriname.

You can do a lot of adventures like going hiking in the jungle, a back to basic, going on a quad tour, doing a helicopter flight, etc. There are many workshops like cacao workshop, coffee workshop, etc. Another this is just to relax in one of the resorts in Suriname. There is something for everyone. You can easily book a tour with SU4You or with one of the many other tour operators.

There are some things you can do by yourself and rent a car, take a taxi or take the boat but if you want to go to the jungle, you should look for a guide because there are many dangerous spots and animals. It’s easy to make friends and maybe they can take you on a tour in the jungle if you prefer.

Things you can do by yourself are visiting Paramaribo and other city or villages in Suriname. You can also go by yourself to resorts or glamping spots in the jungle, you can ask them how to get there. Some other things you can visit by yourself like Parabello, Brownsberg, Ston island, Brokopondo, Peperpot Nature parc, plantation Laarwijk, plantation Frederiksdorp and much more.

My experience living in Suriname

After flying for 9:30 hours from the Netherlands I arrived in Suriname and the adventure could begin. The first thing you will notice when you get off the airplane is that it’s hot and humid.

My experience in Suriname was amazing. I loved my months living in Suriname I really wanted to stay because I had the best time and I felt good living here. Most people are so friendly, and you can easily make friends. The culture is so diverse that you learn a lot from different religions. There is a lot to visit in Suriname and you will not be bored. If you love adventures, Suriname is the place to be! Of course, I also had some bad experiences which you will have everywhere you live. There are always the up and the down parts, my overall experience was just over the top amazing.

I was what they called a lot of the time ‘bakra’ which they refer to if you’re a white person, most of the time a Dutch person. This term is linked in history to the slave masters. It’s not nice to hear and it made me uncomfortable but after hearing this for three months sadly I got used to it.

My internship experiences

My internship in the MOB, the medical educational bureau was an interesting experience to see how they help parents and children with problems at home or in school. It’s accessible for every family in Suriname and they focus on helping with the physical and mental development that is at risk of the group of 0-23 years old.

The sad thing is that I didn’t feel too welcome during this internship. Together with other interns we were sitting in a separate office, and we couldn’t tag along with the workers to learn. Some colleagues didn’t want ‘bakras’ as interns. I felt bad, it hit hard especially because I came to learn their way of working so I could grow in my work field. Still, I learned a lot from some people in the MOB. There were also some friendly workers there that explained the school system to us, and we still could observe a lot. We visited different schools and learned about all the different services they offer.

The Kennedystichting was my second internship. This boarding school, for children that are deaf or hard hearing, finds it important that students are educated to become independent people who know and dare to take responsibility in society. The education is motivating and challenging. I had to learn sign language which was quite hard but luckily everybody helped me a lot. I had an amazing relationship with the supervisors, and I learned a lot from them. This experience was truly amazing. I learned a lot about myself, came outside my comfort zone and stopped being scared to make mistakes.

Besides the supervisors I also got along with the children and youth. I worked with the youth and in the beginning, it was hard to get a connection because not everybody was glad about a new intern but after a while, I got along with everybody.

In Suriname, I think the deaf and hard of hearing don’t get enough opportunities. They often cannot find work after high school. When they find work, they must be lucky if the family lives nearby so they can stay somewhere. Another issue is that if another person who can hear also applies for that job, they choose the person who can hear because they can communicate with them more easily. I think it’s unfortunate because those children and young people are just like everybody else, they are so talented, they just communicate in another language.

My adventures

There are many things to do in Suriname and I did a lot of adventurous things. You should really do a hike in the jungle. I would recommend hiking the Voltzberg and the Fredberg. Those two hikes are indescribable!

If you love adventures, you should also do a back to basic tour and do a quad tour through the jungle. A kayak tour is another adventurous thing you can do, and Bigi Pan is a beautiful place to enjoy the beauty of nature.

A helicopter flight is a unique experience and cheaper in Suriname than in most countries. Another unique experience that I will never forget is visiting the Kaieteur Falls in the neighbouring country Guyana. It’s the world’s largest single drop waterfall. In Galibi you have the chance to spot the leatherback sea turtle which is the largest of all living turtles.

One of my favorite experience and adventure was showing this amazing country to my family. My parents, siblings and boyfriend came visit me for a week. I knew my parents and siblings were coming but they brought my boyfriend as a surprise. Do you want to know something totally crazy? My boyfriend (now husband) asked me to marry him in Suriname. Of course, I said yes! I had no clue at all that my boyfriend was coming or proposing. It was the biggest surprise of my life! I was a student and engaged, woohoo, there aren’t a lot of people who can say that.

Suriname is this amazing country which you should put on your travel destination list! If you want to know more about Suriname, read my blog What to know about Suriname.

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